Construction &validation of employee wellness questionnaire.

AuthorSulphey, M.M.


There was a time when most of the economies were in the transition phase, human morbidity and mortality were mainly attributed to improper sanitation, poor nutrition, and the lack of immunization. This situation has undergone a sea change, with infectious and contagious diseases being replaced by a wide range of lifestyle diseases. Some such diseases include cancer, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, alcoholism, emphysema, gastrointestinal disorders, and certain other chronic conditions (Ramsey, 1982). Certain others include diabetes mellitus, low back ache, eye diseases, etc. The easiest way to deal with such diseases is to implement appropriate employee wellness programs in their place of work.

There is no universally acceptable definition for employee wellness. Wellness is badly defined, because there is little agreement about what the definition should contain (Sieberhagen, Pienaar & Els, 2011). A few available definitions are presented here. Ardell (1985) defines wellness as 'a conscious and deliberate approach to an advanced state of physical, psychological, and spiritual health'. To Gilmore (1979) wellness is the daily striving for the goal of becoming healthier through ongoing assessment, intervention, and reinforcement. Corbin & Pangrazi (2001) define it as 'a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being'.

An entirely different dimension is presented by Hettler (1984) when he describes wellness as an active process through which the individual becomes aware of, and makes choices toward, a more successful existence. Corbin, Lindey, Welk & Corbin (2002) describe wellness as a person's state of well-being that contributes to an improved quality of life. The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (as quoted in The Journal on Active Aging, 2006) defines wellness as 'a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being'.

It is also defined as 'an integrated and dynamic level of functioning oriented toward maximizing potential, dependent on self-responsibility'. Wellness involves preventive health behaviors coupled with a shift in thinking and attitude. It is thus a comprehensive mindset of lifelong growth and achievement in the emotional, spiritual, physical, occupational, intellectual, environmental, and social dimensions. Thus through wellness an individual strives toward higher levels of functioning for a lifetime, keeping complacency and passivity at bay. Wellness is not a goal to be attained but a continuous process that needs to be maintained.

It can also be considered as a way of living, which seeks growth and improvements in all areas. It involves a lifestyle of deliberate choices and self-responsibility that require conscientious management and meticulous planning. There are many who consider wellness to be of curing sickness, counting fat grams, jogging, and measuring body fat. It is much more comprehensive than that. It is a mind-set of personal empowerment that attempts to approach life with optimism, confidence, and energy. Wellness is a lifelong quest toward optimal functioning. Individuals who strive for wellness have an exceptional openness to experience, and never fear new experiences and life's changes. They welcome changes, take control of their life and face it with creativity and freshness. Studies have shown that living a wellness lifestyle has tremendous potential for increasing longevity. Wellness is thus the idea of being aware of, and actively working toward better health. It can be commented to be 'making the rest of your life the best of your life.'

Wellness is a continuous, active process which is an ongoing, lifelong effort that is oriented toward maximizing one's potential. It is a commitment and determined choice to move toward optimal well-being. It is a proactive approach to living, which involves loving, working, and playing based on values. Wellness is also said to be a self designed lifestyle that facilitates optimal health. Overall it is integration and an appreciation that everything which is done, thought, felt, and believed has an impact on the well-being. There is now increasing general interest in wellness which has made it easier for individuals to adopt a wellness lifestyle.

In management literature the terms wellness and well-being are often found used interchangeably (Martin, Kirkcaldy & Siefen, 2003). According to Sieberhagen, Pienaar & Els (2011), the absence of a universal definition, and confusion about a preferred term to describe wellness are aspects that pose innumerable difficulties in developing guidelines for good wellness practices in present day organizations.

From the available literature it can be seen that EWPs are intervention strategies that are intended to promote the wellbeing of employees. They could take the form of either curative or preventative in nature. The main purpose of a wellness program is to create an awareness of wellness issues among the employees, to facilitate personal change and health management among them, and the promotion of a healthy and supportive workplace.

Experiences show that EWPs often do not form part of core business structures (Bennett, 1999). This is because organizations fail to realize the extent to which employee wellness contributes to organizations' bottom line. However, according to Dhanesar & Hales (1994) organizations that invests time and resources in EWPs, with the focus on being proactive...

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