Why Create a Healthy Workplace?

Why Create a Healthy Workplace?

Today’s business environment requires organizations to leverage every possible advantage to in order to thrive and be sustainable. An engaged, healthy workforce is essential. Research has shown that organizations with such a workforce are more effective, productive and enjoy a better reputation. In short, it is good for business. It can reduce absenteeism, health related expenses, and staff turnover.

The cost of not taking action

  • workplaces with poor morale and low employee engagement have higher rates of turnover, absenteeism, and reduced productivity
  • stress and mental health issues are now the leading cause of short and long-term disability in Canada. 
  • the cost to Canadian industries, related to mental health, for instance, has been estimated at $35 billion annually
  • unhealthy lifestyle behaviours are linked to chronic diseases.  Costs to business include increased absenteeism, presenteeism (at work, but not working to capacity), increased insurance costs and disability claims


What is a Healthy Workplace?

“A healthy workplace is one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace.”  World Health Organization

Healthy workplaces provide an environment supportive of employee mental and physical health; they make the healthy choice the easy choice.


The Workplace Health Approach

The most effective way to improve and protect the health of an organization and its workers is to take a comprehensive approach. The World Health Organization (WHO) Healthy Workplace Model has four essential elements that connect and work together to create a healthy workplace:

  • Psychosocial Environment
  • Personal Health Resources
  • Physical Work Environment
  • Enterprise Community Involvement


To learn more see A Comprehensive Approach


Strategies to Promote Health

Promoting health is most successful when a number of approaches are used.  They include developing and maintaining a supportive environment, policy development, awareness building, education and skill building, and engaging employees.

A supportive environment promotes and protects the health of the people who work there. A supportive environment is the foundation of a healthy workplace. It makes the healthy choice the easy choice.

Policies set the framework for creating a supportive environment. They are written statements, guidelines and procedures that ensure sustainable support for a desired goal. Policies demonstrate formal commitment, define goals and describe what will be done to create a healthy workplace environment.

Within a supportive environment, and framed by healthy policy, workplaces can promote the health of employees (and their families and communities) by building awareness of factors influencing their health. Opportunities for personal and social development, though education and skill building, can help employees to take better control over their own health and environment.

Finally, engaging employees, by addressing their needs and concerns, giving them a voice and greater control over how their work is done, recognition, etc., can promote health, and create a more productive, sustainable workplace.

Ensuring Success

To ensure the success promoting workplace health, the WHO describes five key principals to address:

  • Leadership commitment and engagement
  • Involvement of workers and their representatives
  • Business ethics and legality
  • A systematic comprehensive process to ensure effectiveness and continual improvement
  • Sustainability and integration


To learn more see Five Keys to Healthy Workplaces


Taking Action: Plan Do Check Act

The comprehensive workplace health approach involves an ongoing improvement process.  Remember, it is essential to engage employees all along the way.

Plan - Identify an issue or issues, gather relevant information about it/them and possible solutions.  Then identify strengths and gaps in the organizational environment, and develop a plan to address the issue.

Do - Put the plan into action.

Check - Keep track of your progress using the measures you decided on in the planning stage. Check how the process worked and if you met your objectives.

Act - Identify what to continue, stop or revise. Celebrate and share successes, as well as lessons learned.

For details on how to take action see Healthy Workplace: a model for action


Other Helpful Links

Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility - Industry Canada

Making “Cents” of a Good Idea: The Business Case for Comprehensive Workplace Health Promotion The Health Communications Unit, University of Toronto

Mental Health Commission of Canada

Ontario Workplace Health Coalition

Psychological Health & Safety Standard- Z1003 (Canadian Standards Association)

Free download (Type Z1003 in the Search box) - a short registration is required.

The Business Case for a Healthy Workplace Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA)


Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice:


Creating an Active Workplace PDF

Healthy Workplace Nutrition Environment PDF

Psychological Health & SafetyCanadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS)

Shiftwork CCOHS

Sun Safety

Helping Employees Quit Smoking


For more information, resources and support to create a healthy workplace, click here to contact

Bernadette Hymus, 613-966-5513 ext. 233.

Healthy Workplaces Make the

Healthy Choice the Easy Choice