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.
Next Steps for Workplace Health and Wellbeing in SA
SA Health, together with its committed partner agencies, will build on the learnings from the Healthy Workers – Healthy Futures Evaluation to further contribute to workplace health and wellbeing in South Australia.
In partnership with Business SA, SA Health is supporting an ‘across industry approach’ pilot program which provides advice and support to peak industries and industry associations on how they can address health and wellbeing as a value add for their member businesses.
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