Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Schools and Centres


First Supervisor

Dr Peter Gall

Second Supervisor

Associate Professor Laurie Dickie


The first decade of the 21st century has shown how organisations are dynamic and turbulent. Many employees are time-poor, working longer and longer hours and are expected to be contactable 24/7, motivated and available to work. Research has shown that employee health is at great risk. Some organisations are now offering incentives for employees to exercise (‘exercise incentives’), and rigorous research was needed to understand and manage these incentives and support health.

The major research question in the study involved employees’ experience of exercise incentives in four medium-sized organisations in Western Australia. Four subsidiary questions provided detail as to the term ‘exercise incentives’, incentives currently provided, influences to employees’ use of exercise incentives and implications for organisational strategy and practice.

The research was driven by a Salutogenic (proactive) focus on health, developed by Aaron Antonovsky. A detailed literature review relevant to contemporary organisations was conducted in the areas of health, exercise and employee incentives; it culminated in an Integrated Hypothetical Framework which was tested and expanded through a phenomenological, mixed method of focus groups, surveys and interviews to fully assess the current situation.

Critically, it was found that just over half (52.1%) of the participating employees were likely to meet the Australian recommendations for physical activity for adults, which encompasses exercise. Therefore, the research provides a necessary and timely contribution to organisational strategy and practice and to academic discussion by demonstrating the profound influence of exercise incentives which must be well-considered, suitably implemented and evaluated.

Four key models were developed: an Exercise Incentives Model for understanding the concept, a Gap Analysis Model to assess strengths and opportunities for improvement, an Exercise Incentives Implementation Model for action and a Research Outcomes Model which encompassed the entire investigation. Before publication, models and recommendations were validated with a senior manager from each participating organisation for clarity and refinement.

Employees, organisations and the research community now have access to rigorously-researched, comprehensive information about exercise incentives and processes for implementation, monitoring and future development. The research offers a powerful contribution to support employee and organisational health in their own right, and a vital extension to contemporary Human Resource Management to drive organisational success now and into the future.

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