Healthy Workplace Framework

The Healthier Together Workplaces Program was developed based on a rigorous review of evidence. The evidence was summarized into the Healthy Workplace Framework and used to inform our 5-step process.

The Healthy Workplace Framework guides coordinated action in four areas:

  • Physical environment
  • Psychosocial environment
  • Personal health resources and behaviours
  • Community connections

Action in these four areas includes - but is not limited to - a combination of programs, policies, health benefits, environmental supports and links to the surrounding community designed to meet the health and safety needs of all employees. Together, the four action areas cover all aspects of a work environment. How workplaces go about making improvements in any of the action areas depends on the health needs and goals of your workforce.

The Four Action Areas

1. Physical Environment

The physical environment that employees interact with while at work. This is the traditional focus of occupational health and safety and mainly concentrates on the removal of workplace hazards that pose threats to the physical safety of workers.

  • Chemical (e.g. pesticides, tobacco smoke)
  • Physical (e.g. spills, radiation, noise, excessive heat, falls from heights)
  • Biological (e.g. mold, food or water-borne pathogens)
  • Ergonomic (e.g. excessive force, repetition heavy lifting)
  • Mechanical (e.g. machine hazards)
  • Energy (e.g. electrical hazards)
  • Driving (e.g. icy conditions, poorly maintained vehicles)

Providing a safe physical work environment is a legal duty for employers. 

2. Psychosocial Environment

The psychological and social aspects of work that impact workers’ mental and physical health and well-being. The psychosocial environment encompasses how work is organized, workplace relationships, working conditions and organizational culture (attitudes, values, beliefs and practices that are demonstrated on a daily basis).

  • Poor work organization (e.g. high workloads, low support from supervisors, poor communication, reward and recognition)
  • Organizational culture (e.g. harassment and bullying, discrimination, lack of support for healthy lifestyles)
  • Work hours and schedules (e.g. shiftwork issues, flexibility)
  • Lack of support for work-life balance
  • Lack of awareness and competence in dealing with mental health issues
  • Job security

In a healthy psychosocial work environment, supervisors support employees to be healthy and engaged. The organization’s culture values employees’ well-being as a means to sustainable business success. And there are policies and resources available to promote and protect employees’ psychological well-being.


3. Personal Health Resources and Behaviours

Workplace programs, policies, practices and resources that enable employees to improve or maintain healthy behaviours. Personal health resources make the healthy choice the easy choice at work.

  • workplace programs (e.g. mental health programs, tobacco cessation programs, employee family assistance program)
  • policies (e.g. tobacco free workplace policy)
  • practices (e.g. flexible work arrangements, healthy snack and drink options during meetings)
  • resources (e.g. offer information on chronic disease prevention, bike racks, showers)

4. Community Connections

Healthy community connections are a two-way street. They refer on the one hand to the activities, expertise and resources a workplace can make use of to support the social and physical well-being of its employees and deliver effective workplace health programs. On the other hand, an organization can also contribute its own resources, including volunteer time, to strengthen local health promotion activities in the community in which it operates.

  • Provide health and fitness resources for workers, their families and for retired employees
  • Allow community health partners to use company facilities to hold health-related events and activities
  • Build a community garden on the organization’s property and donate food to the local food bank
  • Encourage employees to volunteer with local initiatives
  • Offer community grants programs

Healthy Workplace Success Factors

Evidence shows that there are five key factors that enable the success of a workplace health program. Positive change in any of the four action areas discussed above is more likely to occur if these five factors are present:

Leadership and Culture
  • Demonstrated commitment from leaders, backed by resources to improve employee well-being and to integrate health and safety goals into the organization’s culture.
Employee Engagement and Participation
  • There is active participation of employees and managers at all stages of the workplace health improvement process and as users of healthy workplace programs and resources.
Integrated and Comprehensive Approach
  • Healthy workplace goals are integrated into the organization’s business strategy and linked to safety, human resource and corporate social responsibility goals and initiatives. Policies, governing employee health align with the organization’s mission, vision and values.
  • The organization and its leaders regularly communicate with employees about healthy workplace resources, initiatives and progress using multiple channels.
Continuous Improvement
  • Evaluation findings are used to revise and improve the workplace health program on an ongoing basis.

The Healthier Together Workplaces Program can help you make positive changes in your organization by creating a sustainable plan to implement workplace health with our 5 step program.

Not ready to take on a comprehensive workplace health program? Explore ways to jump-start healthy choices with our evidence-based toolkits.