According to research by the Conference Board of Canada, workplace health and wellness was estimated to be a booming $6 billion industry and set to permeate 78% of workplaces in 2016.
This trend has continued to grow throughout 2017 with workplaces exploring various ways to ensure the well-being of their employees. And while creating a healthy workplace can be a challenging task in today’s demanding work environment, organizations are recognizing the benefits including reduced health care costs and absenteeism, improved productivity and morale, and increased employee attraction and retention.
What is workplace wellness?
Each organization can define what is meant by a healthy workplace within their organizational culture. For some it may mean a program or activity that is meant to promote a healthy lifestyle for employees, for example, allowing time for physical fitness or providing onsite kitchens. Others may go so far as to provide healthy food options, health education, annual health checks, weight management programs, or workspace ergonomic evaluations. There are multiple opportunities for a workplace to support a philosophy of health and active lifestyle even while at work.
What are some of the ways that companies can stand out from the crowd in prioritizing the health and wellness of their employees?
- Recognize the employee as a whole person and providing opportunities to address the physical, mental and emotional needs of each
- Create a Health, Wellness and Safety Committee within the organization to promote and address wellness concerns
- Create a worksite wellness toolkit to address a variety of health and wellness needs.
- Fully engage throughout the culture of the organization from the Board through the full staff to find out what constitutes employee wellness in your organization and then share in the opportunities and benefits
- Promote physical activity not only outside but inside the office (e.g. hold standing meetings, encourage lunchtime run/walk/cycles, provide exercise balls as substitute chair options, offer standing desks, etc.)
- Recognize employees for both work-related as well as personal achievements
- Create a culture of creativity and innovation, welcoming new ideas and input from staff
- Create a family friendly environment and culture
There are programs and resources available to help organizations create workplace wellness services or programs. These can adapt to fit each unique workplace.
- Workplace Wellness online– A website created to support Alberta employers working to promote workplace wellness. It provides resources, best practices and a toolkit for workplace wellness.
- UPnGO with PartcipACTION – This program offers “unique combination of platform, curriculum and onsite support designed to mobilize your entire workforce towards lasting, healthier behaviours” in order to get your office sitting less, and moving more.
Not all employees need to be involved with each program or activity offered, but having options to address the well-being of employees goes a long way to creating a healthy work environment.
Originally published in www.sirc.ca Wednesday, November 29, 2017 – 06:53
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Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. (2012). Workplace Stress – General. OSH Answers Fact Sheets.
ParticipACTION. (2016). UPnGO with ParticipACTION.
Hrcouncil.ca. Workplaces that Work. Community Foundations of Canada.
SIRC. (2013). Workplace Health Promotion. SIRC Blog.