Celebrating Healthy Workplace Month

October 1, 2018

Did you know that October is Healthy Workplace Month? This month, organizations all over Canada are committing to helping their employees improve their psychological health and physical well-being through various programs and activities.

Why is it important to create a healthy work environment? It may seem like some companies promote wellness initiatives strictly to attract talent. However, research suggests there are very real benefits to creating a healthy workplace. The work environment has a significant and measurable impact on the employees and the business. In fact, the well-being of your employees and the success of your business are inextricably linked.

The Evidence

To hone in on a specific problem, let’s look at work-related stress. According to a 2015 working paper from Harvard and Stanford Business Schools, health problems caused by job-related stress can lead to fatal conditions that wind up killing about 120,000 people each year. That makes work-related stress potentially more deadly than Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, or influenza.

If those numbers don’t scare you, perhaps the financial implications will. Consider this: a U.S. study assessed the incremental annual health-care costs incurred by employers based on different workplace conditions. It found that the largest excess health-care costs were due to high job demands, which represented a total of $46 billion in annual excess health-care costs.

We’ve established that a person’s work environment can have a measurable effect on their well-being. To bring things full circle, let’s consider how an employee’s health and habits can impact their performance at work.

A 2008 survey conducted by Gallup and Healthways found that poor health behaviours are strongly associated with high levels of presenteeism. Presenteeism can be defined as physically being at work (i.e. present) but not working (i.e. poor productivity). For the purpose of the survey, poor health behaviours included smoking, following an unhealthy diet, and not exercising regularly.

How big was the impact on productivity? As an example, employees with an unhealthy diet were 66% more likely to exhibit high presenteeism than those who regularly ate whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Many of us spend a lot of time at work – arguably most of our waking hours each week. Given the significant impact our workplace can have on our health, and how strongly our well-being can influence our job performance, it’s hard to argue against implementing workplace wellness initiatives!

Getting Started

While such initiatives could quickly become expensive and complex “employee health management strategies” – requiring a lot of planning, budgeting, and involvement from HR – it’s important just to get started. Small measures that help your employees make healthier decisions can have a big impact! Fortunately, we have some great examples to share.

“Family & Well-being” is one of our core values, and there are examples of wellness initiatives in place at Modu-Loc depots across the country. Our team has no shortage of ideas for new ways to highlight the importance of physical and mental health. Many of these initiatives are led by the employees themselves, making them easy and inexpensive ideas to implement.

To celebrate Healthy Workplace Month, we’ll be sharing some of the things Modu-Loc employees are doing to create a culture of “Family & Well-being” at their home branches. At the end of the month, we’ll round up all the ideas into a single handy resource.

If your organization isn’t currently running any wellness initiatives, we hope these ideas will serve as inspiration! We encourage you to try out the ideas, or come up with your own unique take that best suits your business and company culture. Consider empowering some of your own employees to lead the charge on promoting health and well-being at the office. After all, Healthy Workplace Month is the perfect time to start a wellness program!

Ready to get started? Read our next post about getting active!

Author: Joanna Bieda

Joanna Bieda is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Modu-Loc Fence Rentals, and has been with the company since 2014. She loves writing and is a self-professed data nerd. She thoroughly enjoys teaching customers about all things fence via Modu-Loc's blog.

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