Focus on Workplace Health & Well-Being

Workplace health and wellbeing is not just about physical health and safety. It includes a variety of areas that promote a psychologically safe workplace!

A Comprehensive Workplace Health & Safety Program has 3 main components:

  1. balanced stones against a sunset

    Occupational health and safety—This is often what we think about when we consider health and safety. This is the occupational health and safety (physical work environment) and encompasses the promotion and maintenance of the physical, mental and social well-being of workers. It includes reducing work-related injury, illness and disability by addressing the hazards and risks of the physical environment.

  2. Psychosocial work environment—A process to identify the real and potential hazards and risks in the psychosocial environment in the workplace must be developed, implemented and maintained in the CWHS Program. The psycho-social environment covers two major groups of issues:
    1. Organizational culture is defined as the attitudes, values and beliefs that guide workplace behaviours and influence the work environment on a daily basis, affecting the mental and physical well-being of employees. This element is the most interconnected with the protection and promotion of employee mental health and overall health. Some key examples are:
      1. civility and respect shown by co-workers and managers
      2. fairness, appreciation and recognition in the way people are treated
      3. honesty and transparency shown by management and workers
      4. trust and support between management and workers
    2. Organization of work covers aspects of the way work is designed, such as:
      1. demands or workload
      2. communication quality and quantity
      3. clarity of roles and expectations
      4. support provided in terms of resources
      5. how organizational change (large or small) is managed and communicated
      6. psychological fit between the employee’s interpersonal and emotional competencies, their job skills, and the position they hold
      7. opportunities for growth and development
  3. When these factors are absent or handled poorly in the workplace, they become sources of stress, or “stressors”, for employees. There is evidence showing many of these factors create two to three times greater risk of injuries, workplace conflict and violence, back pain, heart disease, some forms of cancer, depression and anxiety.
  4. Workplace health promotion (wellness/well-being)—Workplace Health Promotion programs, also referred to as well-being/wellness programs, provide a proactive approach to healthy living for all employees at the workplace and cover a broad range of health issues. Examples of workplace health programs include, but are not limited to, environmental, cultural and policy support for:
    1. active living
    2. healthy eating
    3. smoking cessation
    4. fitness

Evidence shows that the most effective workplace health programs are those that incorporate personal readiness to make lifestyle changes, address various levels of learning and make supportive environmental modifications. Unlike health and safety programs, employee participation in workplace health programs must always be completely voluntary. Through needs assessments, the committee/employer should determine what the health needs and preferences are, and then plan programs and policies in response, but it is still the worker’s choice whether to participate or not.

Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety