By Colin Hearne on October 6, 2015
‘The average Canadian worker spends about 60% of their waking hours at work’
(Source: Creating a Healthy Workplace Nutrition Environment, 2012).
What happens in the workplace can have a huge impact on employees’ overall health. In the spirit of October being Healthy Workplace Month, we here at Healthy UBC wanted to take this opportunity to delve into the topic of Workplace Health – and in particular focus on one area gaining more and more importance.
The Mighty Three!
First, when building a healthy workplace: what do the experts say is important, or necessary? According to Excellence Canada, anon-profit company that is dedicated to advancing organizational performance across Canada, there are three elements that make up a healthy workplace:
- Health & Lifestyle Practices;
- Physical Environment and Occupational Health & Safety; and
- a Workplace Culture and a Supportive Environment.
To be a healthy workplace is to take all these things into consideration. It’s to be a place where they are encouraged to look after their own health both at work and at home, where employees have a safe and clean work environment, and crucially where they have strong and supportive working relationships that give them a sense of control and influence over what happens to them.
The Importance of a Positive Workplace Culture and a Supportive Environment
A supportive workplace culture is the bedrock of a healthy workplace. It supports and enables the other two elements. Culture is created, reinforced, and sustained by ongoing patterns of relationships and communications that are known to have an important influence on mental and physical health. You will find an organization’s values reflected in its culture – such values as respect, diversity, quality, and teamwork.
Developing a Supportive Environment at Work: What You Can Do Today
‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ – Why not take a minute today to try some of these creative and simple acts:
- Random acts of kindness: Make it a point to not leave on Friday afternoon until you have performed an act of kindness for a co-worker. Help them with a project, grab them a cup of coffee, or buy them lunch.
- Leave them a note: Write a note of thanks to your co-worker specifically describing what they do in the workplace that makes them stand out.
- Celebrate successes: When one of your coworkers reaches a goal or a milestone, do what you can to help them celebrate! Bake a cake, decorate their workspace, or sing a song of celebration.
- Become a UBC Health Contact: Be the person in your office or unit to share healthy information for UBC employees. Get the news about the latest corporate fitness discounts, free workshops and free trainings, and spread the healthy news to your peers. Click here for more information.
- Tell your team: If a co-worker goes above and beyond, put it in writing and praise them in a group email or note!
- Support them when they’re down: Consider how you can support co-workers under stress.
- Start a peer-to-peer recognition team: If your workplace doesn’t already have one, why not approach your manager with this idea? Develop a team to recognize your co-workers. Rotate the members on an annual basis so everyone has a chance to serve.
Make It Happen
One excellent way to build a system of support, recognise achievements, and build a culture of rewarding is connect with UBC Thrive. There are four different ways that you and your group can participate:
- Become a Special Event Partner: Plan and promote a special Thrive event for students, faculty or staff, or for everyone in the UBC community
- Become a Thriving Partner: Promote your regularly scheduled event or activity as a “Thrive” initiative, host an event for a specific audience/group
- Become a Promotional Partner: Help promote Thrive at UBC by sharing information about Thrive in your unit, putting up posters or spreading the message through social media
- Become a Faculty Member Partner: Promote Thrive in the classroom or incorporate key messaging into curriculum.
Want to Know More?
By Colin Hearne on October 1, 2014
This month features Co-op Coordinator Nicole Yeasting from the Business Career Centre in UBC’s Sauder School of Business. In 2014, Nicole and her colleagues developed a ‘Fitness Breaks’ program that runs every Tuesday at 2:45pm or Friday at 10:00am at the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre.
Welcome to Thriving Campus – a new addition to our Healthy UBC Newsletter featuring, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences from UBC staff, faculty and students.
What strategies do you use in your work life to help you thrive?
Being active and trying new activities is certainly part of my life and it encourages me to maintain a healthy work and life balance. I consider September and October as the start of the New Year and it’s a perfect time to create new routines or adjust older ones. As I work closely with students, sometimes it’s hard to take breaks or even take a lunch break. This fall, I’ve made a more conscious effort to pack a healthy lunch, take at least a 15-minute walk (encourage my colleagues to join me!) and drink water from a smaller cup to encourage myself to get up frequently. Our unit was also awarded funds during the summer to launch a healthy workplace initiative. By having such a positive effect on our colleagues, we now have bi-weekly fitness breaks in the fall where we hold 60-second planks, stretches and lunges around our cubicles.
What strategies do you use in your personal life to help you thrive ?
Outside of work I’m always one to try new things. I enjoy participating in activities where I’m surrounded by people. I’ve joined the Running Room for weekly runs, regularly take Bar Method classes; and have bought a Living Social deal at one of UBC’s staff and faculty corporate fitness discount partners Urban Fitness where I can try classes like Tabata, Zumba and Obstacle Boot camp (a class taught by a current BC Lion’s football player!). I also attempt to leave my car at home and walk or transit where I can on the weekends. I’ve grown up playing sports and being active is a part of my lifestyle. Being active both at work and at home helps me keep my stress levels down, to be more productive at work and I think overall it attributes to my positive and happy demeanor. I encourage you all to try a new activity and encourage your friends to join you.
Nicole Yeasting has worked in both the public sector and non-profit industries within Human Resources, Volunteer Engagement and Fundraising over the past six years. Nicole has a BA from UBC and is also a graduate of the Arts Co-op program. She joined the Business Career Centre as a Co-op Coordinator in 2013 and is a strong advocate of the Co-operative Education program. She takes great joy in being able to coach students, watch them flourish into young professionals, and share their excitement as they land their first job.