Workplace health programs can lead to change at both the individual (i.e., employee) and the organization levels.
For individuals, workplace health programs have the potential to impact an employee’s health behaviors, health risks for disease, and current health status.
For organizations, workplace health programs have the potential to impact areas such as health care costs, absenteeism, productivity, recruitment/retention, culture and employee morale.
Employers, workers, families and communities all benefit from the prevention of disease and injury and from sustained health.
A coordinated approach to workplace health promotion results in a planned, organized, and comprehensive set of programs, policies, benefits, and environmental supports designed to meet the health and safety needs of all employees. A comprehensive approach looks to put interventions in place that address multiple risk factors and health conditions and recognizes that the interventions and strategies chosen influence multiple levels of the organization including the individual employee and the organization as a whole.
Workplace health promotion programs are more likely to be successful if occupational safety and health is considered in their design and execution. In fact, a growing body of evidence indicates that workplace-based interventions that take coordinated, planned, or integrated approaches to reducing health threats to workers both in and out of work are more effective than traditional isolated programs.
Integrating or coordinating occupational safety and health with health promotion may increase program participation and effectiveness and may also benefit the broader context of work organization and environment.
A successful workplace health program is one that is targeted to the specific employee population, suiting the worksite, employee needs, and personal and organizational health goals. This information can be gained through the first step in the process – a workplace health assessment.
An assessment should aim to capture a picture of the many factors that influence employee health including: individual level factors such as lifestyle choices, the work environment (e.g, physical working conditions and social support), and the organizational level (e.g., culture, policies, and practices). This assessment can take place informally through conversations, a call for input/opinions (such as a bulletin board, opinion box, email requesting ideas), or more formally by using instruments such as an employee health survey or environmental audit. Both current health issues as well as employee interests should be considered when prioritizing program and policy interventions as well as evaluating and making improvements to the workplace health program on an ongoing basis.
Involving employees from the beginning will reinforce the shared responsibility and commitment the employee and the organization have to employee health, and the overall success of the workplace health program.
If you would like to get help or have an assessment of your workplace health program, please contact me at jedwards@jedwardscoaching or through my website at jedwardscoaching.com.
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