Understanding the perceptions of lower socioeconomic groups towards workplace health promotion is important because they are underrepresented in workplace health promotion activities and generally engage in unhealthier lifestyle behaviour than high SEP groups. This study aims to explore interest in workplace health promotion programmes (WHPPs) among employees with a low and medium level of education regarding participation and desired programme characteristics (i.e. the employer’s role, the source, the channel, the involvement of the social environment and conditions of participation).
A mixed-methods design was used, consisting of a questionnaire study (n = 475) and a sequential focus group study (n = 27) to enrich the questionnaire’s results. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to analyse the associations between subgroups (i.e. demographics, weight status) and interest in a WHPP. The focus group data were analysed deductively through thematic analysis, using MAXQDA 2018 for qualitative data analysis.
The questionnaire study showed that 36.8% of respondents were interested in an employer-provided WHPP, while 45.1% expressed no interest. Regarding subgroup differences, respondents with a low level of education were less likely to express interest in a WHPP than those with a medium level of education (OR = .54, 95%, CI = .35–.85). No significant differences were found concerning gender, age and weight status. The overall themes discussed in the focus groups were similar to the questionnaires (i.e. the employer’s role, the source, the channel, the involvement of the social environment and conditions of participation). The qualitative data showed that participants’ perceptions were often related to their jobs and working conditions.
Employees with a medium level of education were more inclined to be interested in a WHPP than those with a low level of education. Focus groups suggested preferences varied depending on job type and related tasks. Recommendations are to allow WHPP design to adapt to this variation and facilitate flexible participation. Future research investigating employers’ perceptions of WHPPs is needed to enable a mutual understanding of an effective programme design, possibly contributing to sustainable WHPP implementation.