The Regional Municipality Of York

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Workplace Wellness

Program discontinuation notice

Due to changes reflected in the modernized Standards for Public Health Program and Services, the Workplace Wellness Program has been DISCONTINUED. The information on this website is still relevant and may be helpful in your workplace health and wellness programming.


York Region provides consulting and support services and resources to help businesses start and maintain a Workplace Wellness program. York Region offers information to workplaces in the key areas of employee health, including:

  • Stress management
  • Skin cancer prevention
  • Physical activity
  • Stress management
  • Substance use
  • Tobacco use
  • Healthy eating
  • Becoming a breastfeeding-friendly place

By starting or improving a Workplace Wellness program, workplaces can take care of their most important resource, their employees. Employees who feel safe, healthy and supported give businesses a competitive edge. It makes business sense to promote health in the workplace and it can be simple and inexpensive.


Aspects of a Healthy Workplace

Starting a Workplace Wellness program

Current research shows that a comprehensive approach to workplace health promotion is the most effective way to protect and enhance the health of an organization and its employees. This approach to creating a healthier workplace supports program activities that can be easily maintained and that focus on the needs of the employees and the organization.

A successful workplace wellness model has strategies to reduce employees’ health risks in three broad categories:

  1. Occupational health and safety: including reducing work-related injury, illness and disability by addressing factors in the physical environment such as physical, biological and chemical hazards, ergonomics and air quality
  2. Organizational change initiatives: including changing employee attitudes and perceptions, management practices and the way work is organized to improve job satisfaction and productivity
  3. Voluntary health practices: including addressing lifestyle behaviours such as physical activity, tobacco and substance use, nutrition, stress management and cancer prevention through education, supportive environments and policy

A complete Workplace Wellness plan (Health Plan) organizes these activities according to the four health promotion strategies:

  1. Awareness building: provide information to raise awareness of health risks and the benefits to employees for making healthy choices
  2. Education and skill building: provide education and opportunities for staff to learn new skills related to healthy living
  3. Environmental supports: provide an environment that encourages employees to make healthy choices
  4. Policy and guideline development: establish policies and guidelines that encourage healthy living

York Region’s Workplace Wellness Toolkit was created to help companies develop their health plan. Workplaces can move through the steps quickly or choose a gradual guided approach to develop their health plan and engage their employees.

Sources:

Comprehensive Workplace Health Model The Regional Municipality of York en-US

Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour

Physical activity

Physical activity is beneficial to the body and the mind. Research shows that regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of over 25 chronic conditions, including coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, breast and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. As well, physical activity has been linked to improved sleep, reduced stress and improved mental health.

Being active on a regular basis helps you to become more fit. This allows you to perform tasks of daily living with comfort and ease. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, about half of the functional decline between the ages of 30 and 70 is the result of an inactive lifestyle and not aging.

The Canadian physical activity guidelines recommend adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more for health benefits. This includes activities such as walking, taking the stairs, cycling or sports.

Since more than half of Canadian adults spend at least one third of their waking hours at work, fitting physical activity into the work day is a great way to be active and also reduce sedentary time (sitting).

Workplaces with active employees have a reduced level of:

  • Absenteeism
  • Work related Injuries
  • Turnover
  • Disability and health claims

Employees experience better:

  • Health and well-being
  • Morale
  • Job satisfaction
  • Ability to cope with stress
  • Increased productivity and effectiveness at work

Workplaces can help employees reduce sedentary time by providing opportunities for employees to be active. Here are some examples:

Pedometer challenge

Health professionals recommend we walk at least 10,000 steps daily to achieve health benefits. How far do you and your fellow employees walk?

Starting a Pedometer Challenge is a great way to raise awareness of regular physical activity and promote healthy active living among employees.

The Pedometer Challenge Toolkit provides all the resources a workplace needs to organize a challenge.

The Workplace Wellness program also has pedometer lending kits available to help workplaces start a pedometer challenge. Contact a public health nurse for a consultation and/or resources by email at workplace.wellness@york.ca.

Sedentary behaviour

Sedentary behaviour is any activity done while in a sitting or reclining position that requires very little movement and energy expenditure (measured in metabolic equivalent or MET). This does not include sleep as sleep is beneficial to health. Sleep helps reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.

Sedentary behaviours include occupational sitting, commuting in automobiles and time spent in front of screens (computer, television, mobile devices). Being sedentary increases the risk for poor health outcomes such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Osteoporosis
  • Some cancers
  • Depression
  • Back pain
  • Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that often occur together and include abdominal obesity (fat around the waist), elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, elevated blood sugar and low levels of high density lipoprotein. These risk factors combined increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Ways to reduce sedentary time

Some activities such as reading, working on the computer or travelling may need to be completed while sitting but it is good practice to find a healthy balance between sitting and standing. Whenever possible, incorporate physical activity into your day to help meet the physical activity guidelines for adults of 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week for health benefits and to displace time spent in sedentary activities.

Look for ways to break up sedentary time and move more:

  • Take the stairs. Research shows that using the stairs regularly can help reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and obesity. It also raises awareness of the stairwell locations in case of emergency
  • Look for cues to remind you to stand. For example, stand up to answer the phone and stay standing while talking on it, or when someone enters your work area stand up
  • Hold walking meetings. Walking burns calories and stimulates blood flow throughout the body, helping to increase concentration and problem solving
  • Walk to a colleague’s desk for a face to face discussion instead of using email or phone
  • Print documents to a printer further away
  • Take active breaks. Go for a short walk around the office or do some stretches
  • Break up seated work with standing-based work. A sit/stand work station is helpful if the workplace is able to provide this
  • Go for a walk at lunch. Join or form a walking club at work
  • Park the car a little farther away from your destination and walk the rest of the way
  • Consider walking for trips up to two kilometres and cycling for trips up to five kilometres

Additional resources:

workplace,wellness,pedometer,challenge,physical activity,sedentary The Regional Municipality of York en-US

e-Newsletter

e-Newsletter

The Workplace Wellness e-newsletter focuses on recent research, health information and resources related to workplaces. It provides regular updates on current public health campaigns and is distributed quarterly to subscribers. This e-newsletter can be forwarded to your employees, included in your company newsletter or posted.

    Archived Workplace Wellness Newsletters:

    • December 2017
      Mindful eating; Who cares? York Region Public Health Cares – YouTube; ‘Tis the season to stay active!; Notice of discontinuation of the Workplace Wellness E-newsletter – Last issue; ‘Tis the season for cancer prevention; It is easier than ever to get your flu shot!; Deck the halls, prevent the falls, and spread some cheer – winter is coming!; Sleep Deprivation Effects – infographic; From Liver to Lentils, The Changing Messages of Canada’s Food Guide – YouTube; How to deal with loneliness, according to an expert – YouTube; Measuring Positive Mental Health in Canada: Social Support – infographic; Recipes; Fun Corner - riddle    

    •  September 2017
      Bring mindfulness to work; Don’t worry! Be happy and keep moving!; Start your quite journey with Stop on the Road; Radon - test your home study; Notice of discontinuation; Help make your workplace more age-friendly!; Ergonomics: Position for Safety and Comfort – infographic; Let’s cook! – YouTube; Mindful health – YouTube; Human Health – quiz; recipes; Fun corner: English! What a Language!

    • June 2017
      York Region forests bring wellness; Will you be “Fit to Retire?”; Becoming a breastfeeding friendly place; Think about it – infographic; Diabetes and Depression in Older Women – podcast; Diseases Caused by Mosquitoes – infographic; insect repellents – web resource; recipes; Nutrition Basics: The Best Probiotic Foods to Eat - YouTube; Safe Food Handling: Fridge – Health Canada Interactive Tool; Sun Safety at Work – YouTube; Bike to Work Month – web page; Fun Corner: brain teaser

    • March 2017
      March is Nutrition Month: Let’s cook ; ParticipACTION 150 play list; Bring the forest home with you; Weight management and your heart – infographic; Healthy heart score – quiz; The science of subjective well-being, a.k.a. happiness – YouTube; Mental illness in Ontario – infographic; Five feet of fabulous – YouTube ; Fun corner: brain teaser

    The Regional Municipality of York en-US

    Becoming a Breastfeeding-Friendly Place

    The Ontario Human Rights Code says women have the right to breastfeed, undisturbed in any public place in Ontario without being asked to cover up or move to a more discreet area.

    The Becoming A Breastfeeding-Friendly Place guide provides businesses and public establishments with step-by-step instructions and resources to create breastfeeding-friendly and welcoming spaces. Decals are available for display in your establishment to promote breastfeeding in public and to attract families to your organization.

    By welcoming breastfeeding families, your business will:

    • Publicly acknowledge the rights of breastfeeding families
    • Attract families to your facilities
    • Align your organization with the promotion of health and wellness

    By supporting and welcoming breastfeeding families, you are joining many other businesses and organizations that are committed to promoting a healthy community.

    The Regional Municipality of York en-US


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