Healthy Workplaces: a global model for action
The WHO definition of a healthy workplace is as follows:
A healthy workplace is one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace by considering the following, based on identified needs:
· health and safety concerns in the physical work environment;
· health, safety and well-being concerns in the psychosocial work environment including organization of work and workplace culture;
· personal health resources in the workplace; and
· ways of participating in the community to improve the health of workers, their families and other members of the community.
This definition reflects how our understanding of occupational health has evolved from an almost exclusive focus on the physical work environment to inclusion of psychosocial and personal health practice factors. The workplace is increasingly being used as a setting for health promotion and preventive health activities – not only to prevent occupational injury, but to assess and improve people's overall health.
To create a healthy workplace, an enterprise should consider a comprehensive program that contain four arenas or "avenues of influence,” where they can make a difference. These are:
In practice, each avenue intersects and overlaps with the others – as per the graphical model of four large overlapping circles.
Why should employers invest into such a comprehensive program? Contrary to what is usually thought, companies that promote and protect workers health also are among the most successful and competitive companies in the long term. Indeed, there is a wealth of data demonstrating the companies investing in a comprehensive program know:
- a productivity increase
- a Return On Investment (ROI)
- a reduction of health care costs
- a phenomenon of attraction and retain of the best employees.