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Make Your Workplace a Healthy Workplace!

I Introduction

Who thinks about their health when they're at work? For many people, their health is completely unrelated to where they work. However, recent evidence indicates that this is generally not the case.

II Canada's Healthy Workplace Week

To encourage Canadian businesses to participate in comprehensive employee health promotion, prevention and wellness strategies, October 22 to 26, 2001 has been named Canada's Healthy Workplace Week. Endorsed by the National Quality Institute and the Health Work and Wellness Conference, this week focuses on health initiatives and strategies that have been proven to increase employee and customer satisfaction and make a positive impact on the bottom line.

"The idea of an annual nation-wide Healthy Workplace Week is to get Canadian organizations thinking about big picture employee health strategies that protect and enhance the well-being of their employees, thus enhancing the economic health of their organization," says Deborah Jones, co-ordinator for the Work and Wellness Conference in Calgary this October.

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III The Five-Day Revive-and-Thrive Challenge

To assist organizations in getting involved in Canada's Healthy Workplace Week, Tri Fit, specialists in workplace wellness, in partnership with NQI, have developed a Healthy Workplace manual entitled "The Five-Day Revive-and-Thrive Challenge." It focuses on initiatives and strategies that are fun and easy to implement, such as Walk Your Boss or the Stair Trek Challenge, and can be customised to any organization eager to kickstart a healthy workplace campaign.

Organizations are encouraged to take the challenge and can download their free manual from NQI's website at The manual includes a wall calendar, facilitator's guide and feedback survey. Organizations who implement the challenge and complete and return the survey become eligible to win NQI and Tri Fit draw prizes.

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IV NQI's Roadmap to a Healthy Workplace

So what happens when Healthy Workplace Week is over? Well, the quest for a healthy workplace continues! The National Quality Institute has developed a roadmap for any organization that wishes to support and offer exemplary health-related programs in the workplace.

This roadmap is based on criteria for a healthy workplace developed in association with professionals from the health and safety sector, and in partnership with Health Canada. As a companion to the criteria, the Institute has published a Healthy Workplace Assessment Workbook. It's a tool that helps any organization to complete an annual assessment against the five drivers of the criteria (leadership, planning, people focus, process management and outcomes), a critical step for developing and sustaining a healthy workplace environment.

The rationale behind the institute's roadmap is that management of a healthy workplace is an integral part of the management of people and central to the universal principles that drive quality. Having healthy employees is an important part of doing good business, and good managers are sensitive to potential impacts on employee health when making business decisions. Successful organizations already realize that managing health within the workplace is an important management function, and that results from this effort have direct impact on competitiveness and the bottom line.

Organizations that fully understand the principles and practices behind the development of a healthy workplace have moved well beyond the "awareness and information" stage in regard to employee health related programs. They have a good focus on skill development and behaviour change, which help to reinforce a healthy workplace. They have also created a supportive environment that helps to maintain and improve such a focus. They have a well developed and documented plan for employee well-being in the workplace within the business plan, applied a solid review process, and have measurable outcomes on the success of their programs.

For a healthy workplace system to be successful it must be viewed as a line management task, supported through either direct involvement by senior management (notably in a small/medium-sized organization) or, in the case of a large organization, from directives from senior management.

The healthy workplace criteria identify five guiding principles, essential to the development of a healthy work environment within any organization. They are

* leadership through involvement,

* development of an overall health policy,

* primary focus on employee needs,

* recognition that a person's life consists of an interdependent set of health habits, and

* an adaptable focus to employee well-being depending on the workplace.

Implementing the criteria is the first step in winning NQI's Canada Awards for Excellence for a Healthy Workplace. This is the ultimate demonstration of excellence and commitment to workplace wellness!

The National Quality Institute believes that the future belongs to those organizations that take employee wellness and well being as seriously as they do the quality of products and/or services provided. The sustainability of quality will depend on how serious we are in applying the principles and practices of a healthy workplace, because without such a focus, led from the top of the organization, gains made in quality will not last and the impact on our economy and international competitiveness will be nothing short of devastating.

To learn more about how your company can become a healthy workplace, contact Geri McKeown at the National Quality Institute at 1-800-263-9648 ext. 237 or visit

Links to specific NQI resources mentioned in the article can be found in OHPE 227.2.