Ramping up workplace health

Social environment and personal resources affect health at work as much as physical considerations

Physical environment, health practices, social environment and personal resources are critical elements in the establishment of a healthy workplace, according to Health Canada.

Based on these elements, Estelle Morrison, director of LifeWorks program development at Ceridian Canada, an employee assistance program, suggests that organizations looking to improve workplace health give consideration to the following:

Examine how your workplace involves the employees:
•Consider the level of employee input in the decision-making process
•What is communication like in the workplace? What is communicated, how often, by and to whom?
•How is individual work linked to the big picture?

Help employees manage work-life balance:
•Describe appropriate and reasonable ‘rules of engagement’ for emails, cell phones, virtual work, blackberry type devices, and phone messages
•Encourage the use of vacation
•Encourage down-time and separation from work where appropriate

Consider the culture and norms of the workplace, including:
•Employee sense of fairness and equitable treatment
•Reward and recognition
•Performance management — consistencies and application
•‘Walking the talk’
•Policies to support a healthy environment, for example, harassment, discrimination, disability

Establish and evaluate physical safety needs in a way that considers diverse aspects such as age, size, and physical disabilities

Promote programs and activities that support modifiable lifestyle behaviours:
•Consider the types of foods provided at company-sponsored events as well as the food suppliers
•Include formal and casual opportunities to encourage physical movement and exercise
•Consider proactive support in health benefit plans
•Include wellness initiatives that target company-specific health issues

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