Building capacity in workplace health promotion: the case of the healthy together e-learning project
Asgeirsdottir, Asa G.
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Hodgins, Margaret; Battel-Kirk, Barbara; Asgeirsdottir, Asa G. (2010). Building capacity in workplace health promotion: the case of the healthy together e-learning project. Global Health Promotion 17 (1), 60-68
The current global economic crisis poses major challenges for workplace health promotion (WHP). Activities that are not perceived to obviously and directly contribute to profits could be sacrificed. This paper argues that WHP must remain centre-stage because of the rights of workers to a healthy, safe working environment but also because of WHP's beneficial financial implications for enterprises. Capacity building for WHP can be developed even within a recessionary environment, particularly if the focus is on the wider workforce, described here as people for whom workplace health promotion may not be their primary function but who have an important role to play in health improvement in workplaces. There is a strong case for the development of the wider workforce based both on the lack of suitably qualified specialists and on the practicalities of having WHP implemented within organizations, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs make up a very significant proportion of the global economy and are identified as a priority area for action internationally. An example of an e-learning course, the Healthy Together programme, developed by a partnership of three countries, is discussed as an approach that has potential to develop capacity for WHP in the current climate. The findings of the evaluation of the Healthy Together programme indicate that there is a real potential in developing e-learning materials for training those with a brief for promoting workplace health and safety in SMEs. Although modifications in some aspects of delivery identified in the evaluation of the pilot course need to be considered, the course was well received, and was reported to be relevant to the learning needs of students, to their workplaces and specifically to small businesses in rural areas. Specific features of the e-learning approach increase its potential to address capacity building for WHP. (Global Health Promotion, 2010; 17(1): pp. 60-68)