Creating A Healthy Work Environment

back of a woman meditatingManagers and supervisors are key to creating a healthy work environment and providing the foundation for employees to live a healthy lifestyle.

It is important that employees take care of themselves and their families so they can experience a high quality of life at work and at home.  Remember, people cannot grow and succeed if their foundational well-being is non-existent or threatened.  Mental, physical, and social health have to happen first and foremost in order to promote growth and success in other areas contributing to the workplace and team.

The best place to find wellness resources for UC Davis and UC Davis Health affiliates is through Healthy UC Davis, which is a central portal to find all things for well-being in one filterable place. It is a collaboration of the many units across both campuses who provide services across the holistic realm of well-being.  This is where you find all those meditation, yoga and fitness classes, as well as mental health resources, health workshops and all of the resources for holistic well-being. Managers and supervisors can take advantage of these services, resources and benefits and encourage employees to do so as well.  There is no shortage of offerings, just challenges to communicating those offerings across our large organization...maybe consider taking a look at the site during your next team meeting.

Leading Towards a Healthy Culture

Leaders can learn to support health and well-being by sharing the wellness vision, serving as effective wellness role models, and aligning cultural touch points. Successful organizations combine support for individual change with supportive environments.

Health and well-being programs must add culture change strategies whereby healthy behavior becomes “the way we do things around here.” A wellness culture makes it more likely that employees will succeed in achieving and maintaining their personal health improvement goals and not adopt unhealthy behaviors. Leaders at all levels have a responsibility for shaping the workplace culture. That responsibility includes fostering a workplace culture that supports employee health and well-being.

Wellness Traditions

Specific acts and traditions carry special meaning in a culture. Such traditions and symbols should be aligned with wellness. Some senior leaders, for example, have shown their support by moving their designated parking spot away from the front entrance. A daily tradition such as a stretch break can be a powerful statement in support of wellness. Other traditions could take place annually, such as participation in an annual wellness celebration. These symbolic acts explicitly show that health is genuinely valued in the work culture.

Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

In a culture of wellness, healthy choices should be the most affordable, convenient and most attractive alternatives. Do employees have the time, space, equipment and other resources needed to pursue positive practices? Proper resources can eliminate barriers and show that health is a priority in the workplace.

Tips for Managers to Support Wellness at Work:

  • Management support is critical to the success of any health and well-being initiative. Studies show that management style and perception of management support are strong influences on participation in worksite wellness/health promotion programs. Developing a broad base of leadership support is an important wellness strategy.
  • Make health and well-being a part of the core business strategy. Build in leadership accountability for supporting health and well-being initiatives and driving participation.
  • Hold managers and supervisors at all levels responsible and rewarded for health and well-being policy compliance and support of initiatives as part of their performance evaluations.
  • Embed health and well-being promotion in each aspect of organization structure - adding agenda items to new hire orientations, manager training, staff meetings, and vendor/ health plan relationships to create opportunities to communicate and reinforce wellness as a strategic priority.
  • Facilitate wellness program participation — along with teamwork, job autonomy, vacation time, appropriate use of sick leave, and access to work/life/health benefits — to help create an atmosphere where employees can thrive.
  • Normalize basic human functioning as it affects work for everyone whether we talk about it or not. Normalize pregnancy, the stress response, menstruation, sleep issues, menopause, medical treatments, well-visits, and mental health services. Employees must take the lead on their personal privacy, but normalize the general conversation surrounding normal human functions and experiences.
  • Visibly demonstrate and cultivate a workplace that values good health (i.e. exercise on lunch breaks, participate in wellness events, promote good nutrition, and keep team workloads and stress levels manageable).
  • Introduce and endorse wellness initiatives and programs through videos, broadcast emails or postings on social media.
  • Commit organizational resources to foster awareness about personal health and to build a supportive workplace environment that encourages and motivates employees to take daily healthy actions.

Summary and Action Plans >