October – 4 weekshealthy-workplace-pic-4-pub

Healthy Workplaces

Healthy Workplace Month

October  Healthy Workplace Month, and the purpose of this is to increase awareness of a comprehensive approach to workplace health in Canada and this involves:

  • workplace culture and a supportive environment
  • physical environment and occupational health and safety
  • provide healthy workplace tools, resources
  • increase the number of healthy workplaces in Canada


As you reflect on your work place health, consider the following questions:

  • What does Healthy Workplace look like?
  • How does your employer support this?
  • As employer, how do you support a healthy workplace?
  • Is there cost involved and savings?
  • What is the benefit to employer and employees?

The workplace can have a big influence on our health. One reason is that we spend so much time at work. The average Canadian spends more than half their waking hours every day either being at work, or travelling to and from it

A survey of BC employers showed that employers do worry about their employee’s stress, workload, eating habits, safety and inactivity. Research also tells us that healthy employees are more productive, have higher morale and take less sick time.

Seventy per cent of Canadian employees are concerned about their health and safety at work. Of the $51 billion economic cost each year attributed to mental illness, in Canada for example, a staggering $20 billion stems from workplace short- and long-term disability claims.

The cost of unhealthy workplaces has been clearly documented and may include incidences of:


Back pain

Mental health problems

Substance abuse

Heart problems


Certain cancers


Workplace Wellness

Workplace Wellness refers to an organization’s ability to assist and support employees in establishing and maintaining healthier lifestyles. It can include increasing employee awareness on health topics and the available resources in their workplace and community, and/or establishing policies that support health-related objectives. The lifestyles of people in the workforce are important both for the sake of their own health and for the sake of their employer’s productivity.

Benefits of healthy workplaces

A healthy workplace improves an organization’s bottom line.  Investing in people today builds the capabilities needed for long-term improvements in service and product quality, and overall organizational performance.

Promoting healthy workplace is one of best investments you can make as an employer with reduced absenteeism due to illness, lowering and diffusing work stress and increased productivity due to better health. Solutions are simple, like healthy eating at work, doing some deep breathing preferably in some quiet space or a quick walk around the block.

Research has proven the value of healthy workplaces and there are three key strategic business reasons to create a health-supporting workplace:

  • Financial– healthy employees are more productive, and workplaces with wellness programs have reduced health care costs, improved productivity and service quality, reduced absenteeism and injuries
  • Organizational Profile– employers who offer a workplace health program may be more attractive to potential staff and demonstrate corporate social responsibility with improved employee health and well-being and reduced grievances
  • Legal– implementing a comprehensive workplace health program (addressing wellness, occupational health and safety, and organizational culture) demonstrates due diligence with respect to employees, customers and stakeholders.

Workplace Health Programs

A workplace health program is a health promotion activity or organization-wide policy designed to support healthy behaviors and improve health outcomes while at work. These programs consist of activities such as health education and coaching, weight management programs, medical screenings, on-site fitness programs, and more. It is the combined efforts of employers, employees and society to improve the mental and physical health and wellbeing of people at work.

The World Health Organization has prioritized the workplace as a setting for health promotion because of the large potential audience and influence on all spheres of a person’s life. The Luxembourg Declaration provides that health and well-being of employees at work can be achieved through combination of:

  • All staff have to be involved – workplace health promotion has to be integrated in all important decisions and in all areas of organisations
  • All measures and programmes have to be oriented to a problem-solving cycle
  • Workplace health promotion includes individual-directed and environment-directed measures from various fields
  • Workplace health promotion strategies also combine alleviation of health risk factors with enhancement of health strengthening factors

A report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at work suggests that there is growing evidence that significant cost savings can be made by implementing workplace health promotion strategies.

Strategies to promote health in the workplace

These need to be inclusive to account for diversity in the workforce, with behavioral economics a key tool for implementing a workplace health program. Such strategies include the use of “wearable” technology to encourage their employees to monitor their physical activity.

Programs Available in BC

WellnessFits is a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon and the Province of British Columbia’s Healthy Families BC Initiative. WellnessFits is a free comprehensive workplace wellness program that offers businesses and organizations resources and support they need to create healthy workplaces. This free service helps BC businesses looking to create or add on to their existing workplace wellness program through, Assistance, Information and Enhancement.

In New Westminster

The Healthier Community Partnership Committee is a health promotion initiative to encourage the community to EAT WELL, BE ACTIVE, AND LIVE TOBACCO-FREE.  It is a three-way partnership between the City of New Westminster, Fraser Health, and School District No. 40.

For more information see City of New Westminster website: www.newwestcity.ca/healthy-community.

Acknowledgement and thanks to:

City Of New Westminster

Healthy Workplace Month


Government of Canada

World Health Organisation

Canadian Women

Walk for Wellness

The British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA)

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

Healthy Families

Mental Healthcare Commission

Government of BC

Obesity Network

Workplace Mental Health Promotion