What does a healthy workplace look like?

20 July 2023

A safe and healthy workplace is essential to maintain the physical and mental wellbeing of all workers.

When it comes to examples of healthy workplaces, it is hard to look past global tech giant Google with its free food, in-house masseurs, nap pods and games rooms.

But the benefits of providing a healthy work environment for staff can be achieved without the big budget required to set up a dreamy list of glitzy perks.

The World Health Organisation defines a healthy workplace as one where workers and managers collaborate to continually improve the health, safety and wellbeing of all workers and by doing this, sustain the productivity of the business.

Healthy workplaces also strike a balance between removing harmful conditions that can cause injury and illness and providing an abundance of health-promoting conditions.

The Healthy Workplaces Service launched in South Australia in October 2022.

The service provides free information, resources and support to help you create a healthy, safe and thriving workplace by:

  • helping you to create a health and wellbeing program
  • addressing specific health and wellbeing issues within your workplace
  • linking you to resources and support to help you promote health, wellbeing and safety
  • providing recommendations on quality improvement.

Why create a healthy workplace?

The positive impact of achieving healthy, safe and thriving workplaces makes good business sense for businesses and workers.

Workers in a healthy workplace:

  • are three times more productive
  • sustain 50 per cent fewer injuries
  • are five times more engaged
  • generate a return on investment of $3-$6 for every $1 spent.

In an unhealthy workplace:

  • talented workers are four times more likely to leave
  • compensation claims are seven times more costly
  • staff take nine times more sick days per year
  • productivity losses in Australia per year due to obesity alone are $6.4 billion.

How to create a healthy workplace

Creating a healthy workplace requires a mix of environmental, organisational and staff centred activities to create a culture of care, and ultimately a healthy workplace.

There are four steps to creating a healthy workplace:

Step 1 – Getting started

Good planning and preparation create the foundation of an effective and successful healthy workplace program. To get started you need to gain leadership support and engage workers.

Step 2 – Needs assessment

Do a stocktake. You could begin with a self-audit. What are you already doing? What is your workplace data telling you? Are there unique risks or challenges facing your business or industry? Are you addressing physical and mental health, safety and wellbeing?

Step 3 – Take action

What actions do you want to take? Determine your priority areas and develop your action plan to set out some key actions you want to take over the coming year. Ensure that your plan will contribute to creating a workplace culture of care. Make sure that you communicate your plans to staff and involve them in the process.

Step 4 – Monitor and review

Think about how you can measure success and monitor and review to make sure your action plan is on track.

To help you create a healthy workplace, download the Workplace Health and Wellbeing Toolkit, a step by step guide to developing a successful healthy workplace program.

The Healthy Workplaces Service is available to all South Australian workplaces.

Register your workplace online and one of our Healthy Workplaces Advisors will contact you within five working days.

For more information watch the video below, read our frequently asked questions, email us at hws@sa.gov.au or call us at 08 8413 8299.

The Healthy Workplaces Service is joint initiative of Wellbeing SA, Department for Industry, Innovation and Science, ReturnToWorkSA, SafeWork SA and Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment.