Innovations in Wellness: Elevating the Standard of Well-Being

Glorian Sorenson


Dr. Glorian Sorensen

Dr. Sorensen is Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Director of the Center for Community-Based Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  She also leads the Harvard Chan School Center for Work, Health and Well-being, a NIOSH Total Worker Health® Center of Excellence.  Her research focuses on integrated approaches to worker and worksite health and safety, and has included intervention studies across a range of industries (e.g., manufacturing, construction, health care, social service, and transportation, and with small and large worksites).  She also has ongoing worksite tobacco control research in India.


Innovations in Workplace Wellbeing: Taking a Systems Approach

Increasing attention is being given to the ways in which conditions of work may shape worker wellbeing, health and safety.  For example, the Total Worker Health®  initiative uses a holistic approach to worker well-being, recognizing the role of work as a social determinant of health outcomes.  This presentation will describe an innovative, evidence-based solution to improve employee and employer outcomes related to safety, health, and well-being, using a management systems approach shaped by employee input and participation. Starting with a safe work environment as fundamental to every workplace, this approach builds on traditional health promotion and protection efforts by strengthening policies and practices contributing to worker wellbeing. 

This presentation will provide a conceptual model to elucidate the pathways through which working conditions may shape worker wellbeing. This conceptual model is based on the premise that addressing multiple pathways in an integrated manner will contribute to greater improvements in health outcomes than addressing each pathway separately.  We have demonstrated that worker safety and health outcomes share common pathways in the conditions of work, underscoring the need for system-level changes. This presentation will also describe a set of implementation guidelines to build organizational capacity for integrated approaches to worker safety and health. These guidelines are intended to help decision makers within an organization build support and collaboration, plan and implement a program, and evaluate their efforts. We will explore the evidence for the effectiveness of this systems approach, and examine potential adaptations necessary for adapting this approach to diverse settings.