Healthier Work

  • Getting Started
  • Workplaces
  • Workers
  • FAQs

Getting Started

Healthier Work is a ACT government service under the Healthy Weight Initiative established to support employers to develop health and wellbeing initiatives within their workplace.

Healthier Work will assist workplaces to develop and implement programs, policies and practices that lead to healthier workplaces and ongoing employee healthy lifestyle changes in relation to:

  • being active
  • healthy eating
  • smoking reduction/cessation
  • reduced alcohol use
  • social and emotional wellbeing

Healthier Work can help ACT workplaces to develop and implement health and wellbeing programs through a range of free resources and supports including:

  • free phone, email and onsite support
  • a step-by-step guide to promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace
  • resources to support the implementation of healthy lifestyle programs and policies
  • free tools, including an online employee health survey and an organisational audit tool
  • links to workplace health and wellbeing providers
  • training and support mechanisms for workplaces
  • Have a look at the Supporting Resources page to access this information.

It makes good business sense for employers to invest in the health and wellbeing of their workers. The business advantages of having a Health and Wellbeing program are many and varied, including:

  • increased productivity and better staff decision making
  • reduced sick leave, absenteeism and long-term health problems
  • reduced worker turnover
  • increased ability to attract and retain new staff
  • improved corporate citizenship and image
  • reduced risk of accidents and health-related litigation
  • fewer worker compensation claims

The ACT Government’s Healthy Weight Initiative is committed to supporting a healthy, active and productive community. For more information on the Healthy Weight Initiative click here.

Workplaces

Recent analysis by Price Waterhouse Coopers of the health of Australian Capital Territory (ACT) workers found that it is comparable to national levels, except in the areas of physical inactivity and overweight where the ACT statistics are slightly better than the national averages. This said, the health statistics of ACT workers are concerning and present opportunities for significant improvement.

  • 20% of ACT workers report as being smokers
  • 46% of ACT workers have inadequate fruit and vegetable intake
  • 23% of ACT workers consume harmful levels of alcohol
  • 65% of ACT workers do not undertake in sufficient levels of physical activity
  • 56% of ACT workers are overweight

Workplace health and wellbeing programs not only have real potential to positively influence the health of our workforce, they also make good business sense – increasing employee engagement and team cohesiveness in the short-term, and leading to reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and improved corporate image in the longer term.

To see some of the business benefits read the case studies provided by ACT employers.

A number of supporting resources have been developed to assist workplaces in developing health and wellbeing initiatives or programs in their workplace. To access these resources click here.

Workers

Benefits for Workers

Check Your Health

Our Role as Workers

Benefit to us as Workers

Most adults spend at least one third of their lives at work. Having a working environment that supports healthy lifestyles can significantly influence your health and wellbeing.

Like many developed nations, Australia is witnessing a significant increase in preventable chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Unhealthy lifestyle behaviours such as tobacco smoking, alcohol misuse, poor diet, physical inactivity and unhealthy weight are the main risk factors contributing to chronic disease.

The promotion of good health in the workplace can support us all to make positive lifestyle changes. Some of the benefits for workers participating in workplace health and wellbeing programs are:

  • Improved health awareness and knowledge
  • Improved physical and mental wellbeing and resilience
  • Increased energy and vitality
  • Increased work enjoyment and fulfilment
  • Improved concentration and productivity
  • Improved team relationships
  • Reduced risk of chronic disease

Whether your workplace has a comprehensive health and wellbeing program, or is only starting out in this space, there are things that we can do to help develop and maintain a health promoting workplace environment.

It takes more than just the employer to make health and wellbeing programs work in the workplace, become a health and wellbeing champion in your organisation and received the benefits of a more healthy and happy workplace!

Check Your Health

If you would like to assess your health and wellbeing and receive a tailored report with suggestions of how you can make changes in areas of identified risk, complete the individual version of the ACT Online Employee Health and Wellbeing Survey. Your workplace can also register to complete this survey as a group and receive a de-identified combined report.  See the survey page for more information.

ACT Online Employee Health and Wellbeing Survey at the ACT Health Directorate website here.

Further information and links to resources to support your healthy lifestyle choices, including in your workplace, is available below:

Our Role as Workers

A workplace health and wellbeing program is an activity or a range of activities that are designed to make healthy choices easier choices for you to make, in your workplace.

All workers should be given the opportunity to be involved in planning and developing their own staff health and wellbeing program.

Have Your Say

Contribute ideas about what kinds of activities are needed, how they might be introduced and how you and your co-workers can be involved. This allows everyone to feel valued and to ensure that programs are relevant to most workers. As a result of this involvement, people are more likely to be engaged and participate actively in activities.

Some useful ways you can contribute to what you would like to see happen in your workplace include:

  • contribute ideas through regular staff meetings
  • make suggestions to your manager for simple ideas that could be implemented in your workplace
  • gather an informal group together to get some activities going
  • participate in a workplace initiated focus group
  • ensure you participate in any formal needs assessment, such as completing a workplace survey
  • provide feedback on what’s working or not working well
  • if relevant, join a workplace health and wellbeing committee

Once programs and activities are up and running, have a go, encourage others to join in and celebrate achievements!

Become a workplace champion

Initial momentum for a workplace health and wellbeing program can be sparked by the interest and enthusiasm of workers. Become a workplace health champion. Take a leadership role and provide the energy to encourage others within your workplace to get on board and move forward.

As a champion you can:

  • support a coordinator to implement and run activities without necessarily having to take the lead in administering them
  • talk to your co-workers to let them know what activities are planned and get them motivated and willing to take part
  • set up a dedicated health and wellbeing notice board in your work area to keep people informed
  • offer to coordinate an event or a regular activity in your local work area, such as a walking group or a health awareness event such as walk to work day. Check out the [Healthier Work Calendar]- url tbc – for information on events to promote in your workplace

Remember, without individual energy and enthusiasm it is hard to build the momentum necessary to get health and wellbeing programs established and flourishing.

FAQs

1. What is a workplace health and wellbeing program?

A workplace health and wellbeing program refers to activities or initiatives in your workplace that are designed to have a positive impact on the general health and wellbeing of your employees.  It does this through the implementation of structured and planned strategies and initiatives and is based on the needs and interests of both employees and employers, and the individual nature of the workplace.

Typically, a program may focus on areas such as healthy eating, physical activity, sedentary behaviour, social and emotional wellbeing, smoking and alcohol or drug use.

A workplace health and wellbeing program does not have to be expensive or use significant resources, and it can bring considerable rewards to your organisation.

There is solid evidence that health and wellbeing programs can improve employee productivity and efficiency and therefore your business bottom line.

2. What are the benefits to my workplace?

A workplace health and wellbeing program can deliver a number of direct and indirect benefits to both employees and the organisation. Improved workplace morale, reduced absenteeism, improved productivity and better employee and employer relations are all benefits that can flow from a well-planned program.

A workplace health and wellbeing program also makes good business sense when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. Employees who work in an environment that provides a well-planned and managed program generally feel more valued and motivated.

3. Why use the workplace to promote health and wellbeing?

With Canberrans spending at least a third of their day at work, the workplace is an ideal environment for addressing health issues that contribute to the high rates of chronic disease in the state. A supportive and healthy work environment can encourage positive lifestyle choices and help build healthy habits that become a natural part of everyday living.

For employers a workplace health and wellbeing program make good business sense – increasing employee engagement and team cohesiveness in the short-term, and leading to reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and improved corporate image in the longer term.

4. How much will a workplace health and wellbeing program cost?

Workplace health and wellbeing program costs vary depending on the type of activities undertaken. Even simple no- or low-cost activities can have significant benefits for the health of your employees. For example office based walking groups and promoting lunchtime exercise classes nearby can stimulate those who just need a little encouragement and motivation.

For further examples of simple low cost strategies see Section 2.4 of the Guide_to_Promoting_Health_and_Wellbeing_in_the_Workplace_3

5. Some people at work may be concerned about participating in a new program. How can I address their concerns?

Two way communication is vital. Right from the outset seek input and engagement from employees. Explain why your workplace is considering implementing a wellness program and what its objectives are. If you think an external wellness provider might help encourage a more open discussion, think about how you can bring that person in early.

You can’t make people do something they don’t want to do. Seek voluntary participation by engaging employees and valuing their input. If you can do this your program will have an excellent chance of being successful and sustainable over the long term.

6. Are all workplaces (including Commonwealth Departments and National companies) in the ACT eligible to use the services of Healthier Work?

Healthier Work is a free support service available to all workplaces located in the ACT.

Many workplaces will access the support and information they need through the website and online tools and resources.  Some workplaces may go on to contact Healthier Work for more support, such as requesting a site visit.

Recognising that one size does not fit all, Healthier Work will develop specific and strategic approaches for engaging and providing a higher level of support for ‘high need’ and ‘hard to reach’.