I called a member of a volunteer group who changed jobs a few months ago on Saturday to find out why she has not been available for online volunteer meetings, the exchange :

Me : How are you doing ?

Ms : I am fine thank you. I taught the call was an office call initially!

Me : You have not been available for your volunteer group online meetings, any reasons ?

Ms : I have not been able to take breaks from work and it appears non-stop daily and weekends are not different.  

Me : Can you discuss this with your boss ?

Ms : No I can’t. I am new here and need to establish my credibility first.

What is a staff like this going to do to address unsustainable and unhealthy work culture ?


‘’The success of any organisation starts with a healthy workforce. A work culture that values health and an environment that supports health improvement set a strong foundation for employee productivity and engagement’’ 1.Up to 70% ofcompanies re-emphasised the importance of a culture of health in the Optum 2020International Wellness in the Workplace Benchmark Study. More employers recognise that it is in their interest to keep workers healthy, engaged, and productive.

A culture of health is established when a workplace (or employer) places value on and is conducive to employee health and well-being.3

This is a marathon and not a sprint, and requires long-term commitments. Ensure that the initiatives have support from all levels of the organisation, including senior leadership, middle management, and peers.

1.Provide Executive Leadership

Senior leaders personally embrace well-being through the evidence of it in their lifestyle and in supporting well-being in the organisation through their decision-making influence, resource allocation, and personal engagement. Leading by example is required for creating a culture of health in the organisation.

Supervisors and managers at alllevels should be involved in promoting Health and Well-Being programmes.  They are the direct links between the workers and upper management and will determine if the programme succeeds or fails.3

·      Behaviour modelling

•     Providing funding, resources, and dedicated staff (for large employers)  to manage Health and Well-Being (HWB) initiative

•    Connecting Health and Well-being (HWB) initiative to business strategy and values

•   Leaders writing articles/blogs and sharing stories about their personal well-being journey

•   Executive sponsored supervisor Health and Well-being (HWB)  training


2.Bi-directional Communications

Strategic communications are designed to educate, motivate, market offerings and build trust. They are tailored and targeted, multi-channelled, bi-directional with optimum timing, frequency and placement.5

Providing relevant information help employees answer basic questions such as ‘‘how does the programme work?’’, ‘‘where and how do I signup?’’ and ‘‘what’s in it for me?’’. Communication is critical to securing engagement, and engagement is key to programme success.

People need and should get regular feedback about how they and the group are doing in achieving healthy lifestyles. They are also kept abreast of success stories and resources available for pursuing health and wellbeing. The population is engaged in an ongoing conversation about health, its value to the individual and the organisation, and change in health status as well as impact on the organisation over time.

In a published study ,organisations with frequent and well-articulated communication campaigns were able to spend significantly less($80 per person less, on average) on financial incentives and still achieve high participation rates.

Consider literacy levels of your employees, learning styles, formal and informal , office and remote staff, existing media utilisation and effectiveness.

Carry out communication audit at least once every two years.

·       Digital communications

·       Well-being website/mobile app

•      Wellness champions/ coordinators

•     Employee feedback surveys or focus groups

•      Personal testimonials/stories

•      Awards and recognition programmes

•      Leader messaging in town halls


3. Policies and Procedures

The organisation has “formal” policies and procedures that are clearly aligned with the organisation’s values and are designed with intent to support those values.

Review existing policies, relevant case studies, regulations, intended and un-intended consequences and obtain employee buy-in.

•     Allow employees to engage in well-being activities during work time :With commuting time of 3 to 5 hours, the workplacewill be the greatest opportunity for most to engage in well-being activities.

·        Tobacco free office

•    Flexible work arrangements

•    Respectful work environment

•   Policies to promote physical activity and increase walkability

•  Policies to ensure healthy food is available to employees

•  Policies in support of ergonomically sound working


4.Supportive Built Environment

The built environment supports activities aligned with the organisation’s values. Dedicated financial resources (i.e., expense and capital budgets) are available for support of facility well-being. Start with what you can afford and build over time.

Environmental design should be aligned with company goals and culture. Also consider data such as environmental audit. participation and employee needs.


•     Covered or shielded walking paths onsite to encourage walking during hot or wet days.

•     Onsite fitness centre with showers and lockers

•     Sit/stand workstations or walking desks

•     Enhanced stairwell design  

•     Healthy cafeterias, catering and vending

•    Onsite clinic for factories and large offices (this could be shared by adjacent companies)

•     Onsite Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)  for large offices and factories.

•      Meditation and relaxation rooms


5.External Community Connections and Altruism

The organisation intentionally supports the external community as an extension of the workplace environment,  recognizing the importance of supporting the greater community. The efforts are altruistic in nature and involve doing things simply out of a desire to help, not out of obligation, a sense of duty, loyalty, or for religious reasons.

•     Volunteering

•     Healthy community building initiatives

·      Involvement in charitable events

·      Monetary support for charitable organisations

·      Community collaboration initiatives

#employeewellness #workplacewellness


1. GLOBAL EMPLOYER INSIGHT SURVEY: Health and wellbeing How have employee wellbeing and culture of health changed? Optum  2020

2. Health  and  wellbeing during  global  disruption: How employers are rising to thec hallenge Optum 2020

3. Kent K et al. Promoting Healthy Workplaces by Building Cultures of Health and Applying Strategic Communications JOEM Volume 58, Number2, February 2016

4.Five Important Elements for Building a Culture of Health: What, Why and How? Health Enhancement Research Organization(HERO)  February 2020

5. Essential Elements of Effective  Workplace Programs and Policies for Improving  Worker Health and  Wellbeing DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No.2010-140