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Business Faculty Study Exercise Motivation and Work-Related Health Programs

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What prompts people to start and continue an employee wellness program? Two Cal State Fullerton business faculty members are delving into what motivates and influences workers to join such programs.

Susan Cadwallader, associate professor of marketing, and Adelina Gnanlet, associate professor of management, used CSUF’s own Employee Wellness Program to study a number of factors: recruiting success, retention over time and customer satisfaction with the service itself.

The study began last spring with a survey sent to both current and past attendees of the University program. The survey asked a number of questions ranging from how the individual had heard about the program to satisfaction with the program, as well as whether it was beneficial to have on campus.

“We are interested in learning what drivers — other than a desire to improve health or fitness — may influence an individual to join a company wellness program,” said Cadwallader. “One area we examined is what role situational motivation to engage in a specific task plays in an individual’s decision to participate in a specific work-related activity, such as CSUF’s Employee Wellness Program (EWP).

“Specifically, we expected that individuals with high levels of intrinsic or internal situational motivation will be likely to join and stay in the program,” said Cadwallader. “We also examined the outcome of situational motivation in terms of affect/feelings, cognition/thoughts and behavior, and how this differed for those who joined and stayed with the program, who chose not to participate, and those who did join but did not stay with the program.”

“Using the data collected from members of the EWP and a group of non-members, preliminary analyses suggest that employees who exhibit high levels of intrinsic motivation about the EWP offering are more likely to join and continue using the program,” explained Gnanlet.

“Intrinsic motivation measures assessed interest and belief that the program will be of value to them,” Gnanlet added. “More than 90 percent of those surveyed indicated that they had joined the employee wellness program to maintain physical condition. They find the convenience of the location and price to be attractive factors to work out at the EWP.”

The campus program was established in 2003 and offers faculty and staff members opportunities to participate in a variety of physical activities and health-related fitness assessments. Offered year-around are strength and conditioning, and women’s workout courses, as well as yoga, Pilates, lap swimming and open gym classes. The programs are overseen by graduate students and undergraduate interns from the kinesiology program.

“It’s a win-win for faculty and staff, who are getting more individualized attention than they would in a busy commercial fitness center, as well as students who are getting high-impact experiences on how to work with a wide range of people from those who are fit and those who have health issues or concerns,” said Christine Quiros ‘10, ‘13 (B.A., M.S. kinesiology), program coordinator.

For more information regarding the EWP, including how to sign up for an upcoming session, go to the EWP website or email