Workplace Health Promotion of Adolescents
An app with various supporting functions is expected to show a positive effect of a supporting peer culture on the well-being of the trainees as well as on the economic success of the company.
In Switzerland there already exist various evidence-based and practically approved programmes to promote health and prevention at the workplace such as SWiNG, Friendly Work Space, vitaLab, zWäg!, KMUvital and S-Tool. However, these programmes relate to all phases of working life and do not aim at specific target groups. There are no workplace health promotion and prevention programmes which consider trainees with their specific needs. Adolescence – comprising the period of company training – represents, though, an important phase of life during which health-related modes of behaviour are developed, consolidated and can have an impact on the whole span of life. In this respect, adolescence constitutes a crucial period of time concerning measures to promote health which effectively strengthen the personal resources of trainees and reduce the costs due to mental problems.
In this project the research findings regarding health promotion of adolescents are transferred to health promotion of trainees. Therefore, when developing corresponding measures the following assumptions ought to be considered:
- In the process of detachment from their family adolescents model themselves mainly on their peer group. Hence, measures of workplace health promotion should relate to the in-company peer groups which are formed on the basis of internal structures, projects or interests.
- Within peer groups a positive peer culture can mostly be found. Adolescents support and learn from each other, which allows them to live four components of healthy growth: belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. Thus, workplace health promotion ought to provide for these important factors.
- Empowerment, i.e. strategies for increasing one’s autonomy, responsibility and self-determination, represents a central value to adolescents in search of their own identity. Therefore, health promotion measures should account for a high degree of empowerment.
- The smartphone as a mobile and interactive communication medium plays an essential part in the life of adolescents. All kinds of information are exchanged among peers. Consequently, workplace health promotion ought to be implemented via smartphone.
In consideration of these assumptions a project has been devised with the aim of promoting a positive peer culture and thus good health of the trainees within a company by means of an app. On the basis of a pilot project in collaboration with Health Promotion Switzerland and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (School of Business, Institute for Information Systems) such an app will be designed, implemented, evaluated and refined for two pilot companies – the Swiss Post (Middle Region) and the Centre of Competence ‘Work’ in Berne. Peer mentoring will thereby form a central component: Young trainees can get help and support from older trainees via app within the same company. Further features such as a live chat, a forum for information exchange and discussion, a job-related glossary, a wiki from trainees for trainees, a time management tool, self-assessment tests, etc. will be implemented according to the trainees’ needs. The handling of the app will be easy and playful; ethical problems as for example cyber-mobbing will be taken into account.
An evaluation of the process and the findings is expected to show a positive effect of the in-company health promotion measures on the health-related behaviour of trainees which in turn contributes to improve or preserve good health and so maintains their working capacity and productivity in the long run.