The Healthy Workers – Healthy Futures (HWHF) initiative was funded by the South Australian government over a four-year period (2014-2018) to contribute to the prevention of lifestyle related chronic disease in South Australian workers.
The initiative partnered with four peak industry bodies to build the capacity and capability of South Australian industry, businesses and workers to implement health and wellbeing strategies in the workplace.
The implementation of Healthy Workers also involved state level support to promote health and wellbeing, establishing strategic partnerships, creating state-wide training and developing a range of resources.
Evaluation of the Healthy Workers – Healthy Futures Initiative
The evaluation of the initiative was coordinated by the Department of State Development, in conjunction with an evaluation advisory committee, with the report written by the Principal Evaluation Coordinator, Department for Health and Wellbeing.
Partnerships are critical. The HWHF initiative created and strengthened partnerships with over 20 organisations to better respond to the needs of SA businesses, workplaces and workers.
An emerging key theme of integration of Health & Wellbeing with Work Health and Safety (WHS) and Organisational Development (OD)/Human Resources (HR) was evident.
Capacity building through training was a key focus – four training packages were developed, including an accredited module in workplace health and wellbeing and a module developed for Health and Safety Representative training.
Involved peak industry bodies have increased awareness, capacity and capability to implement workplace health programs.
An increase in sector industry wide changes that support workplace health and wellbeing.
Businesses highly valued the Healthy Worker Advisory Service with 92% of businesses satisfied with the service provided.
Industry bodies have embedded health and wellbeing into Industry Awards, governance structures, communication channels and events.
Tools were tailored &/or developed to match the needs of the industry, including embedding into existing resources such as induction manuals, health & safety handbooks and peak body websites.
Industry specific training was developed.
“There were a number of initiatives brought in that are just now (a) routine part of the way that program is delivered, which is far outside of the training package requirements and the compliance requirements.” (CE, Industry)
Businesses have increased awareness, capacity and capability to implement workplace health programs
90% of businesses strongly agreed/agreed that the capacity and capability of their workplace to deliver workplace health and wellbeing strategies had improved.
Increase in businesses’ healthy policies, programs, environmental and cultural changes in workplaces;
Participating businesses demonstrated significant measurable improvements to supporting worker health and wellbeing;
80% of businesses increased the programs and support offered to workers
71% improved policies and workplace culture, and
67% of businesses made structural changes to their workplaces environments to support workers’ health and wellbeing.
“The initiative has contributed to positive change in our workplace culture. Our workers realise we care about their future and their wellbeing.” (Business Survey respondent).
80% of businesses identified ‘improving workers’ health and wellbeing’ as a primary reason to engage in HWHF.
Challenges for business involvement included:
competing demands for time and financial resources
some implementation difficulties for small business.
Workers had increased access to and/or use of workplace health programs and phone-based health services. After being involved in the HWHF initiative, workers were:
more than twice as likely to report that their workplace supports them in making healthy lifestyle choices
40% more likely to report that support from their workplace influenced them to try to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Simple, low cost strategies were well received by workers and workplaces.
The value of fun, competitions, incentives and peer influence was evident for successful workplace action.
Healthy Workers Across Industry Program
Business SA, in partnership with SA Health, ran a successful and innovative pilot program from August 2018 – October 2020. The Healthy Workers Across Industry Program provided advice and support to peak industry bodies and associations to address health and wellbeing in the workplaces. Business SA focused on increasing awareness of workplace health and wellbeing and to increase the capacity of peak bodies and associations in South Australia to embed sustainable workplace health and wellbeing action across their industry groups.
Pilot project outcomes and success
37 peak bodies and associations were supported during the program, reaching a potential 15,839 businesses.
Program participants reported a 16.3% increase in awareness and knowledge to support their industry and member workplaces to embed sustainable workplace health and wellbeing action.
Program participants reported a 15.5% increase in capacity to support their industry and member workplaces to embed sustainable workplace health and wellbeing action.
A large range of innovate and varied mechanisms were implemented by peak bodies and associations to support work health and wellbeing approaches.
Resources and tools developed
As a part of the Healthy Workers Across Industry Program, toolkits, videos and resources were developed and are outlined below:
The business case for investing in the health of workers
This resource has been developed for associations and members to use when justifying the need to make workplace health and wellbeing ‘business as usual’.
Workplace Health & Wellbeing Information Kit: Your Guide to Raising Awareness of Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace
A guide to support peak industry bodies and associations to raise awareness of workplace health and wellbeing. It includes useful tips for inclusion into pre-existing media and communication mechanisms including newsletters, websites and social media.
This video series has been developed for associations to place on their websites and share with members. The series has been broken down into short episodes which allow the user to watch at a time convenient to them.
As a small business owner, time and resources can be tight and self-care, health and wellbeing are commonly considered a luxury. The Workplace wellbeing guide for small business guide has two sections, one is to help small business owners to shine a spotlight on their own health and wellbeing and two to provide easy and inexpensive tips on how to build a healthy and safe working culture.
South Australian Independent Retailers completed an aggressive behaviour awareness kit and a workplace health and safety ‘shopping bag’ upgrade. Visit South Australian Independent Retailers.
Next Steps for Workplace Health and Wellbeing in SA
Building on from the learnings of the Healthy Workers – Healthy Futures initiative, Wellbeing SA continues to drive the workplace health and wellbeing agenda in South Australia, together with its committed partner agencies.
The South Australian Workplace Health and Wellbeing Charter (PDF 698KB) was also launched in 2020, co-designed by representatives from government and non-government organisations with expertise in health promotion, work health and safety, workers compensation, research and the needs of business and industry both large and small. The Charter represents a commitment of the Collaborative Partnership members to working together towards improving workplace health, safety and wellbeing across South Australia.
A new Healthy Workplaces SA website has been developed by the Collaborative Partnership to provide a central source of information, tools and resources to help South Australian businesses create healthy, safe and thriving workplaces.
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