Cover for Working Paper 2402, Health Lifestyles at Work.

2402 | Health Lifestyles at Work

William Fleming

The workplace is an ever more popular site for health promotion, but remains an underexplored factor in health lifestyles theory; whereas, sociological accounts of workplace wellness view it critically as managerial control. These perspectives both miss that participation in workplace wellness may represent socially structured health lifestyles. Addressing this gap, I extend a theoretical model for bringing together health lifestyles theory and critical wellbeing studies. Supporting this model, I provide an empirical account of the availability of, participation in and barriers to workplace wellness. I analyse a multi-organisation sample of British workers (N = 27,919 individuals; 143 organisations) to reveal that engagement with wellness has distinct associations with multiple social factors (class, race and gender), job factors (level, contract, working hours and commute) and organisational context. Theories of health lifestyles ought to include work characteristics and managerial regimes, and critiques of wellness must analyse how social position affects workers’ experiences of wellness.