Total Worker Health®
(TWH) frameworks call for attention to organizational leadership in the implementation and effectiveness of TWH approaches. It is especially important to study this within in the small business environment where employees face significant health, safety, and well-being concerns and employers face barriers to addressing these concerns. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of how small business leaders perceive employee health, safety, and well-being in the context of their own actions. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 18 small business senior leaders and used a qualitative coding approach to analyze the transcripts to determine the frequency with which leaders discussed each code. When we asked leaders about their leadership practices for health, safety, and well-being, leaders reflected upon their business (65%), themselves (28%), and their employees (7%). Leaders rarely discussed the ways in which they integrate health, safety, and well-being. The interviews demonstrate that small business leaders care about the health of their employees, but because of the perceived value to their business, not to employees or themselves. Thus, they may lack the knowledge and skills to be successful TWH leaders. The present study supports a need for continued small business TWH leadership research.
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