Supporting the Health of Low Socioeconomic Status Employees: Qualitative Perspectives From Employees and Large Companies

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Abstract

Objective:

The aim of this study was to identify alignments between wellness offerings low socioeconomic status (SES) employees need and those large companies can provide.

Methods:

Focus groups (employees); telephone interviews (large companies). Employees were low-SES, insured through their employers, and employed by large Washington State companies. Focus groups covered perceived barriers to healthy behaviors at work and potential support from companies. Interviews focused on priorities for employee health and challenges reaching low-SES employees.

Results:

Seventy-seven employees participated in eight focus groups; 12 companies completed interviews. Employees identified facilitators and barriers to healthier work environments; companies expressed care for employees, concerns about employee obesity, and reluctance to discuss SES.

Conclusion:

Our findings combine low-SES employee and large company perspectives and indicate three ways workplaces could most effectively support low-SES employee health: create healthier workplace food environments; prioritize onsite physical activity facilities; use clearer health communications.

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