Staying healthy at work

work life balance Stuart Mills

May 7th, 2013

As we move into winter and the shorter days, staying fit or ‘fitting in’ exercise becomes a bigger challenge for most working people.

As a WHS organisation much of our time is spent consulting and helping other businesses and organisations ensure a safe, healthy and productive workplace for their staff. It got us thinking about how, as an organisation, we look after ourselves?

We are very conscious of the importance of our worker’s health and wellbeing and this is why we are taking on a new and comprehensive approach planned with organisational participation to address our health as well as our broader working environment.

We have run health and wellbeing programs in the past such as the 10,000 steps program, lunch information sessions and flu vaccinations. What we have found, like many organisations is that the traditional approach to offering a few healthy initiatives ‘here and there’ are good, but can be relatively ineffective. This is because these initiatives over a longer period tend to be taken up by already committed and healthy workers.

Our approach requires strong management support and looks to integrate a maintainable program that reflects worker priorities. This can present a host of difficulties, especially because as individuals we differ in our needs and approaches to sustaining a healthy lifestyle.

Our first step was a preliminary assessment of our workforce through an anonymous on-line survey to identify individual worker interests and issues. Analysis of this information has helped our team to begin developing activities that best suit our demographic profile.

Although it is still in its infancy; our ‘Healthier at Work’ initiative looks at providing our workers with the opportunity to participate in various activities and information sessions that will reflect their needs as well as the organisation’s goals.

Following are the key factors in ensuring this program works:

  • Strong management commitment and support, through organisational policy
  • Planning to get worker involvement and coordination of the program, allocation of a specific role to oversee this function
  • Action planning, developing strategies to support a healthy workforce and a health promoting workplace that match the outcomes of our survey including worker input
  • Providing a solid program which will be overseen and run by a newly set up Healthy Work Steering Group (HWSG)
  • Evaluation and review of our action plan

Having clearly identified goals and targets which are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) will help us to ensure our program meets a successful outcome.

The goal of this approach is to build programs, policies and practices that will work over the long term to encourage sustained worker healthy lifestyle changes. We are targeting physical activity, healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight and improving our stress management including attaining that sometimes elusive, ‘work/life balance’.

The other potential benefit is to build and keep positive morale, in turn creating a good working environment and culture. We aim for worker participation, inclusion and long-term commitment. But above all, our goal is to have fun and maintain great working relationships with our colleagues.

Thank you to Bev Gow-Wilson who has kindly supplied the information for this feature and Julie Campbell and Natalie Baldwin for their participation in helping this initiative take shape.

© SRC Solutions 2013