Most adults spend more than half of their waking hours at work so it is important to build a workplace environment that promotes health and safety as well as psychological wellbeing to increase the effectiveness of your organization.
Addressing health in the workplace can create a positive organizational culture, which supports healthy employee practices and behaviours, and can meet the requirements of current occupational health and safety legislation.
A workplace that takes into consideration individual health behaviours, positive organizational culture and community involvement, and occupational health and safety may see the following:
Individual health practices and behaviours can be supported through workplace health initiatives that support employees to make healthy choices.
To help improve the behaviour of employees, consider offering:
Organizational Culture refers to the underlying values and beliefs that guide workplace behaviours and influence the work environment. A healthy workplace culture promotes work enjoyment and productivity. Workplace initiatives can enhance the physical and mental well-being of the employees.
Workplaces that address the broader social and environmental determinants of workers’ health and engage in community development practices experience benefits. Evidence suggests that workplaces offering employees time to volunteer or give back to the community report higher rates of satisfaction. Equally beneficial is the reported improvement in organizational culture, when employees volunteer their time together.
Occupational Health & Safety initiatives help to provide a safe physical environment that prevents illness and injury.
Workplaces can implement various strategies to encourage an environment that supports healthy eating.
Here are some ideas:
Use Canada’s Food Guide to help you pick healthier foods to offer at your workplace.
Learn more about nutrition and creating a healthy workplace environment.
Many organizations recognize the importance of promoting mental and emotional well-being, managing stress, and supporting employees to manage stress.
Prolonged work-related stress can contribute to cardiovascular problems, musculoskeletal disorders, workplace injuries, low morale, decreased job satisfaction, emotional distress, increased anxiety, depression, and burnout. The cost to the organization can be significant as a result of disability claims, absenteeism, high turnover, decreased productivity, and increased risks of liability.
Identifying stress-related hazards and working to reduce those risks, as well as making workplace health promotion a priority, are key to improving health.
Ensuring civility and respect among staff is also an important aspect of fostering mental wellness in the workplace. Civility and respect is about being considerate and inclusive with others, including staff, clients and the public. It involves having an understanding of other people’s perspectives as well as one’s own preconceptions, respecting differences and seeking common ground.
Benefits of mental health promotion include:
Some strategies to help foster mental wellness in the workplace include:
Your work environment has a significant impact on your employees’ overall health and wellness, which could affect their performance at work.
Sedentary behaviour is associated with an increased risk of health complications like:
Encouraging employees to be active benefits both employers and employees. A little creativity can go a long way. Actions a workplace can take to promote physical activity include:
For more information on physical activity:
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking of tobacco, using e-cigarettes to vape any substance, and smoking medical or recreational cannabis in enclosed workplaces and enclosed public places in order to protect workers and the public from the hazards of second-hand smoke and vapour.
Every employer of an enclosed workplace must:
Learn more about how to promote a tobacco-free workplace and create an environment free of second-hand smoke.
Ottawa Public Health’s Workplace health web site has many resources to support workplaces looking to implement various improvements to their work sites. Some of these tools include:
WSPS provides a range of information and services, including online and in-person trainings, that support workplaces adhere to workplace health and safety regulations in Ontario.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website has resources regarding labour legislations, workplace hazards, workers’ rights, and health and wellness
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) worked with the CSA Group (an organization specializing in research and development of standards in various industries) and the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ) to develop The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace in 2013.
Authors of the National standard for Psychological Safety in the Workplace, the Mental Health Commission of Canada focuses on supporting mental health and wellness through helping organizations implement mental health policies, and advocate for psychological wellbeing for all populations across Canada.