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Healthy workplace month

7 tips for creating a healthy work environment

October is healthy workplace month in Canada, a cause that encourages workplaces across the country to focus on being well, feeling well, eating well and connecting well.

If you are like most Canadians, you probably spend a good part of your week at work. It’s not uncommon for people to spend 40 hours or more at work each week, but for some reason, people tend to overlook the importance of their work environment.

If you think about it, on an average day, you probably spend the same amount of time at work as you do at home. Given how much time you spend at your workplace, it's important for it to be just as healthy an environment as that at home. A healthy workplace environment helps you to stay healthy and be a productive employee.

Staggering statistics about workplace health

Your approach to health at work can have a significant impact on various areas of your life. Here are some revealing statistics about overall health and well-being at the workplace:

  • According to the Conference Board of Canada, the absenteeism rate is 9.4 days per employee, costing organizations $16.6 billion annually.
  • The Healthy Workplace Project found that using hand sanitizer can reduce an employee’s sick days by more than 20%. They also found that the common cold is responsible for about 40% of the costs of absenteeism in the workplace.
  • According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 1 out of 5 Canadians will experience some form of mental health issue, and more than a half million people miss work every week due to mental illness. This statistic equates to more than a $50 billion loss for the economy.
  • According to Statistics Canada, more than 50% of Canadians are overweight.

Based on these numbers, it’s clear that workplace health needs to be a priority for everyone.

Seven tips to improve your overall well-being

Here are some ways you can improve your well-being:

  1. Get active: Sitting in front of the computer all day is not good for you, so it’s important to get up and get some form of activity during the work day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to a colleague’s desk instead of calling them or sending an email, and take a walk during your lunch break.
  2. Get involved and get social: Getting involved at work is more important than most people realize. Take part in team building, network, join committees, attend social events and volunteer when you have the chance. Social engagement plays a big role in strengthening your overall mental health.
  3. Be conscious of your posture: It’s easy to fall into bad habits, especially if you sit all day. Make an effort to be conscious of your posture throughout the day. If your muscles feel fatigued, get up, move around and stretch.
  4. Be aware of mental fatigue: It’s common to get mentally worn down. Rather than trying to work through it, you’ll be more productive in the long run if you take a break.
  5. Plan lunch ahead: “What should I have for lunch?” can be a dangerous question. When it comes to lunch, planning ahead is always your best option. Pack healthy foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients, so that you have the energy you need to get through the day. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated.
  6. Keep healthy snacks at your desk: Having healthy snacks at your desk can be just what you need to fight off cravings for sweets or a candy bar from the vending machine. Healthy snacks are also a good way to maintain a steady energy level between meals.
  7. Use proper hygiene: Proper hygiene is important at all times, especially when you are at work or in other public places. Always wash your hands, keep your workstation clean, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and stay home if you are ill.

Workplace wellness promotes happy and healthy employees, which leads to a better overall work environment, greater productivity, improvement in morale and a better company overall. It also ensures you are a healthier individual, which can help you keep your health care costs down. If your company does not offer group benefits, make sure that you are covered by private health insurance coverage to protect yourself.

Do you make workplace health a priority? What are some of the initiatives that either you do personally or your company does to improve workplace health?

Learn more about healthy workplace month and initiatives to make your workplace a healthier one.