Department of Health

Healthy Workers Initiative

Getting Started

Gain support from Management

There is strong evidence that most successful programs are those that have widespread support from the CEO or senior management team. Ideally the most senior managers, including the CEO, should support the workplace health program. If your workplace is small or you are just starting, it’s important to gain some management support, such as from a team leader or small business owner.

Simple approach:

  • Identify a manager, team leader or the business owner who is willing to make things happen, or lead by example

Detailed approach:

  • Build a strong business case for your workplace health program:
    • Describe why the program would be of benefit to your workplace, e.g. return on investment, employer of choice, worker loyalty, reduced absenteeism and attending work while sick, reduced costs
    • Outline the program and its goals
    • Use case studies to highlight successes in other workplaces
Workplace Health Savings Calculator - a new interactive tool to estimate the potential savings associated with implementing a successful health program in your workplace.

Engage your employees

It is important to support the people involved in implementing workplace health programs as well as those employees who participate. It is also helpful to identify and recruit the support of employees who may be key leaders and influencers in the workplace to help build maximum support.

Simple approach:

  • Nominate one person to lead your workplace health program (this could be the manager or team leader willing to make personal changes and lead by example)
  • Use staff meetings or regular staff interviews to talk to employees about workplace health in your workplace
  • Identify how you will prioritise and act on employees’ suggestions
  • Identify how you will communicate information to your employees, e.g. posters, emails, personal letters

Detailed approach:

  • Identify a Healthy Workplace Champion in the workplace who could take a leading role in developing the workplace health promotion program
  • Form a small group of people, The Healthy Workplace Team, to assist the Healthy Workplace Champion implement healthy changes in the workplace. Try to ensure the team is representative of the differences amongst employees such as gender, workplace position and language and cultural differences
  • Identify how you will circulate the program information and encourage participation in workplace health promotion programs.

Assess your needs

It is important to identify the workplace health needs of your workplace and employees.

Simple approach:

  • Ask employees at a team meeting what they consider to be the workplace’s health promotion priorities
  • Walk around the workplace (or a typical example of the place of work if the workplace is mobile) looking for possible ways to promote healthy living, e.g. increasing physical activity, providing healthy options in vending machines
  • Consider working conditions and how they might affect workplace health
  • Review the number of sick days

Detailed approach

  • One option is to conduct a needs assessment which can:
    • Identify the priority health concerns
    • Involve employees
    • Create interest in your program
Be aware that different employees may be at varying stages in their awareness of personal health risks and readiness to make behavioural changes.

The assessment might include both what your workplace is like now and the conditions and outcomes that the workplace health promotion program hopes to achieve.

Assessment of the present situation might include:
  • Employee illness/injury data
  • Employee turnover data
  • A comprehensive assessment of how your workplace conditions (both physical and social) impact on employees’ health
  • The current health of employees through the collection of confidential survey data
  • The working environment
  • Employee health concerns and issues
  • What sort of health programs employees consider valuable

First Steps Tools

Employee Survey

Workplace Audit

Absenteeism and Presenteeism Costs Calculator