University of Twente (UT) and FH Münster have joined forces to find out ways to increase health and vitality in small and medium-sized (SMEs) enterprises. This project, called Health Pro Fit, is financed by INTEREGG and EUREGIO.
Similarly to large organizations, SMEs in the Netherlands and Germany are facing several challenges related to health and demographic changes. These changes often entail burdens on employers, such as shortages of skilled labor, and employees’ increased workloads and increasingly spoiled or demanding consumers. While large organizations can often fall back on a safety net of already established health management concepts, SMEs often lack targeted measures or interventions for the promotion of the health of their managers and employees. Indeed, a targeted consideration of the health-promoting and health-threatening structures of SMEs is necessary in order to derive and work out precisely fitting, practicable and cost-efficient measures that contribute as well to high job performance. To develop intricate, effective measures, the inter-regional project Health (Pro) Fit was thus established.
In the project Health (Pro) Fit four SMEs in Twente and four in the adjacent part of Germany will receive a tailored health program for their specific organization. The Health (Pro)Fit project stands for the preservation and promotion of healthy, vital, and motivated managers, employees and teams. The overarching aim of Health (Pro) Fit is the sustainable strengthening of SMEs through measures for health promotion, team development and health management. Further, more detailed goals are the reduction of absenteeism, as well as the promotion of employees’ capability to work up to the retirement age and possibly beyond. From the employer’s perspective, the focus is at the same time on reinforcing the attractiveness of their own company. The core of the project is based on a maturity level model that includes, among other levels, developing ‘healthy leadership’ within SMEs.
Typically, the kind of leadership of a company has a great impact on the health of the employees. ‘Healthy leadership’ is used in the academic literature to describe several actions and behaviors role-modeled or enacted by managers that are beneficial to the improvement of employees’ health. During this project, the UT and FH Münster will investigate what determinants will influence the improvement of healthy leadership behaviors. The companies will receive management coaching sessions and be involved in several other activities, among which a plenary dietician talk; an online workshop about reading ingredients on food labels; and Tai Chi on the university campus, after work.
From an academic perspective, a systematic literature review, based on the BSc-thesis of Health sciences student Cedric Bijl, co-guided by dr. Wouter Keijser and prof. dr Celeste Wilderom, has been submitted already and accepted to present at the prestigious (US) Academy of Management annual meetings of 2021: more to come soon.
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