Canada Celebrates Healthy Workplace Week

Canada increases awareness of the importance of healthy workplaces with Healthy Workplace Week.

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Do you work in a healthy workplace? If you are Canadian, or work in Canada, then this is the week to find out.

This week (Oct. 22-26) is Healthy Workplace Week in Canada. The week was designed to increase awareness of the importance of healthy workplaces and encourage Canadian organizations, large and small, to participate in comprehensive workplace health promotion, prevention and wellness strategies.

Although there are several health and wellness-related national observances throughout the year, there has been no designated week that is specific to comprehensive workplace health - the strategic development of leadership, cultural and program based solutions to organizational health issues - until this year.

An organization called Tri Fit has developed a healthy workplace manual titled "Five-Day Revive-and-Thrive Challenge" to assist Canadian companies in getting involved in Healthy Workplace Week. It focuses on health initiatives and strategies that are fun and easy to implement and can be customized to fit an organization eager to kickstart a healthy workplace campaign.

A special Web site designed to help employers quick off the Healthy Workplace Campaign can be found at www.nqi.ca/english/hww1.htm. Materials include:

  • A colorful calendar that employees can use to track their daily participation.
  • Ready to print campaign promotional materials including quizzes.
  • A collection of catch phrases that relate to health - ideal for inserting in newsletters and posting on bulletin boards.
  • A resource list of useful organizations and websites related to workplace health.
  • Tips on how to maximize employee participation.
  • Ideas on how companies can support Healthy Workplace Week.

During the week, employers are encouraged to support employee participation by:

  • Holding a staff recognition event, honoring employees for their contributions toward the organization''s success.
  • Recognizing employees who have made significant contributions in a staff newsletter or on the company intranet.
  • Inviting a guest speaker to their organization to talk about work-life balance or ways of reducing organizational stress.
  • Bringing in a consultant or speaker to inform management about possible healthy workplace changes.
  • Identifying employees to send to the National Quality Institute''s Healthy Workplace Course to learn about adopting healthy workplace changes.
  • Developing an organizational health policy at their company.
  • Implementing initiatives designed to improve physical and social well-being in their organization.

The National Quality Institute and Tri-Fit have come up with activities for each day of Healthy Workplace Week. Day one, today, is Walk your Boss Day. Employers are encouraged to outline a route that takes approximately 20 minutes to walk and hand out maps to employees. If most employees can take their lunch or meal break at the same time, you can organize one walk and encourage everyone to start at the same time. If you have a shift population it may be easier for employees to walk in smaller groups with their bosses.

For Day two - Harvest Your Health Day - employers are asked to provide a copy of the "How Fit is Your Lifestyle" quiz and the "Harvest Your Health" handout to each employee. Ask them to complete the quiz and participate in a healthy activity on their own.

Day three is the Stair Trek Challenge. Wednesday''s goal is to encourage employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator wherever they are; at work, at home, in a public place. If you have accessible stairwells at work, add a fun element to the day by posting a fitness related question on each floor. Sample questions are included in the Healthy Workplace kit.

The goal of Day four, the Eating Breakfast is Smart Campaign, is to encourage each employee to eat a healthy breakfast for increased energy and productivity. Distribute the "Rate Your Breakfast Quiz " and healthy breakfast guidelines to all employees the day before. Set up blenders and make healthy breakfast shakes or smoothies and hand out samples to employees along with the recipes.

Day five - Stretch and Snack Day - encourages each employee to do some simple stretches at their desk or workstation and eat at least one healthy snack during the day. Seek volunteers to lead a three to five minute mass group stretch. A list of stretching exercises is included in the kit.

by Sandy Smith

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