Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to explore factors contributing to non-participation in a workplace physical activity (PA) intervention in a large UK call centre.
Design/methodology/approach – In total, 16 inactive individuals (nine male/seven female), aged 27±9 years, who had not taken part in the intervention were interviewed to explore their perceptions of PA, the intervention and factors which contributed to their non-participation. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis.
Findings – Six superordinate themes were identified: self-efficacy for exercise; attitudes towards PA; lack of time and energy; facilities and the physical environment; response to the PA programme and PA culture. Barriers occurred at multiple levels of influence, and support the use of ecological or multilevel models to help guide future programme design/delivery.
Research limitations/implications – The 16 participants were not selected to be representative of the workplace gender or structure. Future intentions relating to PA participation were not considered and participants may have withheld negative opinions about the workplace or intervention despite use of an external researcher.
Practical implications – In this group of employees education about the importance of PA for young adults and providing opportunities to gain social benefits from PA would increase perceived benefits and reduce perceived costs of PA. Workplace cultural norms with respect to PA must also be addressed to create a shift in PA participation.
Originality/value – Employees’ reasons for non-participation in workplace interventions remain poorly understood and infrequently studied. The study considers a relatively under-studied population of employed young adults, providing practical recommendations for future interventions.