Literacy, Essential Skills and Health

Literacy, Essential Skills and Health

Literacy, Essential Skills and Health

Date posted: June 8, 2016

Does literacy and essential skills (LES) training at work improve health?

Using data from the large scale UPSKILL study that collected information from workplace-based LES training in the tourism accommodations sector, Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) explored the relationship of literacy and essential skills with health and performance. Their findings have just been released.

UPSKILL Health identified three ways that LES training can benefit individual’s health, mental health, and job performance:
1. By affecting their psychosocial assets such as self-confidence, resilience, and trust in others
2. By influencing their ability to understand and use health-related information
3. By reducing work stress caused when workers feel their skills are too limited to meet job demands.

In terms of job performance, UPSKILL Health found that workers’ mental health and reduced work stress were associated with better communication, teamwork, and/or reduced absenteeism. Workers with high work stress or low self-efficacy prior to LES training experienced greater job performance benefits. Many workers described feeling more confident interacting with colleagues and hotel guests following training, and reported using a greater range of coping strategies to deal with job-related challenges.

Finally, UPSKILL Health found that a reduction in employees’ work stress was related to positive business outcomes such as revenue, productivity, absenteeism and staff costs. Likewise, workers’ self-esteem was found to be important for business outcomes. (UPSKILL Health Study – Knowledge Synthesis Report, p.ii)

For details of the study, read the UPSKILL Health Study – Knowledge Synthesis Report. Technical reports are available separately.

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