3: Health promoting workplaces
Success factors of workplace health promotion
Involvement of management
A programme is most successful when it has the full support of management, which ensures that it is integrated into company policy and allocated sufficient financial and material resources. Moreover, the involvement of management in the interventions should be visible and personal leadership should be provided through exemplary behaviour - for example, taking part in programmes, sharing personal health challenges and strategies to respond to them, etc.
Integrating occupational safety and health and
Traditionally, occupational safety and health and had been regarded as different domains, with mainly focussed on healthy lifestyle and health behaviour of workers. With the passage of time, the scope of broadened to encompass physical and mental well-being and work organisational issues, and the overlap between the two domains, OSH and WHP has become greater.
Scientific evidence and practical experience indicates that comprehensive practices and policies that address both, the work environment (physical and organisational) and the personal health risks of individuals in the same time, are more effective in preventing disease and promoting health and safety.
The Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives has an awards programme where advice and specialist support can be given to organisations to help them develop health promotion and safety activities. Their case studies show how smaller organisations can incorporate health promotion and safety to improve working lives.
Core elements of a programme
- Set up a working group to take responsibility for WHP. If possible, the group should include someone from senior management, staff, HR and an OSH professional;
- Communicate and engage with everyone about WHP. Get people talking about it - use diverse channels (such as working groups or posters) and focus on the benefits.
- Coordinate with existing OSH structures: WHP is most effective when it complements existing health and safety measures.
- Assess workers' needs and expectations through analysis tools such as surveys and by asking workers themselves during focus groups;
- Set clear goals that fit with the company policy and vision;
- Implement a coordinated programme, rather than running several small initiatives;
- Involve intermediary organisations, if necessary, such as medical providers, health insurance companies or sports clubs; and
- Address diversity among workers: Different workers will be motivated by different things - consider how this might affect recruitment and participation.
- Ensure visible support from top management to enhance commitment and participation;
- Engage workers as much as possible and use incentives for participation; and
- Adapt information and materials to the target audience.
- Analyse the impact on staff satisfaction and the company as a whole;
- Evaluate the financial benefits: hard indicators (e.g. reduced absenteeism rates) or softer indicators (e.g. the impact of better working relationships on productivity);
- Communicate the results and inform people about the successes; and
- Review and improve: WHP is a continuous process.
Here you can find examples of programmes that have been developed and implemented by different organisations.