Workplaces impact health and well-being. It benefits both employers and employees if workplaces are safe and support health. A healthy workplace is more than just safe it considers health practices, the physical work environment and the psychosocial environment. Natural light, ergonomics, green space, noise, food choices, exercise, commuting, fairness and flexibility are all important to employees. Employers providing healthier options at the workplace have witnessed many benefits such as reduced insurance costs and absenteeism. Employers that care about creating a healthy workplace have witnessed increased employee job satisfaction, morale and productivity. There is increasing evidence that the same workplace factors that improve health.
Workers that feel valued, safe and healthy are more likely to be more productive and committed to their work. Healthy workplaces can reduce insurance costs and absenteeism. Healthy workplaces can increase worker productivity, satisfaction and retention.
Workplaces can promote the health and safety of people. Workers can spend up to half of their day in the workplace. Healthy workplaces support healthy behavior patterns. A healthy workplace is committed to supporting healthy eating, improving physical activity, and providing a safe and nurturing learning environment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “while employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace, they also have abundant opportunities to promote individual health and foster a healthy work environment.” The workplace can influence healthier social norms. Healthy workplaces support healthy eating and regular physical activity which can prevent obesity and chronic diseases. Furthermore, workplaces can improve their employees’ knowledge of healthier lifestyle choices and be place for preventative health screenings.
In 2017, the Nashville Civic Design Center in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health created Active Building Guidelines (PDF 18MB or PDF Mobile 8MB) for health departments. These guidelines present a series of physical and mental health- promoting design recommendations for the 120+ county and regional health department buildings across Tennessee. Believed to be the first guidance document of its kind for health departments in the nation, it was written to help decision makers re-imagine the role that buildings can play in supporting public health. The Active Building Guidelinespull from a vast collection of design recommendations, toolkits, precedents and best practices from across the country. From those, a menu of over 70 health-promoting design recommendations are presented such as: natural lighting, workout facilities, energy efficient appliances and walking tracks for use by employees and the public. The guidelines also include case studies demonstrating implementation strategies.
The intention of Active Building Guidelines is to be a conversation-starter, guide and resource for mayors, government personnel, architects and planners when presented the opportunity to renovate or newly-construct health department buildings across the state. Additionally, the Active Building Guidelines can be used in decision making for other public buildings, private businesses and healthcare facilities.
Healthier Tennessee Small Starts for Work promotes a simple, affordable way to make employees healthier. Click the workplaces below to read their case study about how their striving to have a healthier Tennessee workplace for their employees.
|BAE Systems Ordnance Systems, Inc.||focus on prevention
reduction in health risks
|Bank of Tennessee||onsite fitness activities
community fitness events
|Clarksville Parks and Recreation||
|Cumberland Marketing||tobacco-free campus
make time to move
|First Citizens National Bank||healthy employee incentive program
|StandardAero||health care benefit incentives
maintain-Don't Gain contest
diabetes prevention program
According to the American Psychological Association’s website, a healthy workplace fosters employee health and well-being while enhancing organizational performance and productivity. Unhealthy workplaces cost United States employers hundreds of billions of dollars each year due to absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and direct medical, legal and insurance fees.
Psychologically, they group health workplaces into 5 categories:
- Employee involvement
- Work-life balance
- Employee growth and development
- Health and safety
- Employee recognition
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) promotes that a workplace health program should involve a coordinated, systematic and comprehensive approach. CDC has assembled a Workplace Health Model that incorporates:
2. Planning and Management
Their coordinated approach to workplace health is designed to meet the health and safety needs of all employees. CDC asserts wellness programs should have both policies and benefits for the individual employee and the organization.
CDC’s Worksite Health Score Card is a tool designed to help employers assess whether they have implemented science-based health promotion and protection interventions in their worksites to prevent heart disease, stroke and related health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Healthy Workplace Model
Workplace Health Promotion
Workplace Health Strategies
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development (TOSHA)
Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration
World Health Organization
Healthy workplaces: a WHO global model for action
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
Healthy Workplaces for All Ages
Small Starts for Work
Industrial Accident Prevention Association
Creating Healthy Workplaces
Berkeley University of California
Center for Active Design
The Community Guide
Obesity: Worksite Programs
American Lung Association (ALA)
City of New York
Active Design Guidelines – Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design, 2010