Workplace health promotion is about more than just preventing illness, injuries and accidents. It’s a positive approach to improving the health and well-being of an organization and its employees.

Comprehensive workplace health programs use a systems approach to create awareness, provide education and skill-building opportunities, create supportive environments and develop healthy policies.

It is about making the healthy choice the easy choice!

Why Promote Health in the Workplace?

  • Health Canada states people spend almost two thirds of their waking hours at work, so the workplace has a significant impact on health.
  • The workplace is an important determinant of health and health-related behaviour.
  • An employee’s health impacts how they do their job and therefore affects workplace productivity.
  • The workplace is an effective location for health promotion since adults are often difficult to reach in other ways.

Key Elements of a Health Program

Diagram with a triangle showing a workplace modelThe Health Unit bases its Workplace Wellness Program on the following workplace health model, which includes three key elements:

1. Voluntary Health Practices

  • Lifestyle choices, behaviours and coping skills for dealing with life in healthy ways.
  • For example eating, sleeping, and physical activity habits, use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, and methods for coping with stress.

2. Occupational Health and Safety (Physical Environment)

  • Factors in the work or home environments that affect employee health and safety.
  • For example air, noise, lighting, and equipment.

3. Organizational Change

  • The culture of an organization as experienced by its employees, including management relationships and communication patterns.
  • Also, the sense of control employees feel they have over their health and work, the social support they receive from others, and the degree to which they strive to improve their health.

Benefits of a Healthy Workplace

A healthy workplace benefits both employees and employers.

Employer benefits:

  • Decreased absenteeism
  • Decreased health benefit costs
  • Reduced workplace accidents and injuries
  • Improved morale
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved corporate image
  • Enhanced ability to recruit and retain skilled employees
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Improved labour relations
  • Improved corporate culture
  • Demonstrated concern for employees

Employee benefits:

  • Improved health and well-being
  • Reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes
  • Increased ability to make the changes necessary to improve personal health
  • Reduced personal health care expenses
  • Less injury and illness
  • Healthier workplace culture
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved job satisfaction and morale