Five Keys to Healthy Workplaces

The WHO has developed these five keys which it considers are essential to developing healthy workplaces.

Key 1: Leadership commitment and engagement

  • Mobilise and gain commitment from major stakeholders (e.g. senior leadership, union leadership) to integrate healthy workplaces into the enterprise’s business goals and values;
  • Get necessary permissions, resources and support;
  • Provide key evidence of this commitment by developing and adopting a comprehensive policy that is signed by the enterprise’s highest authority which clearly indicates that healthy workplace initiatives are part of the organization’s business strategy.

Key 2: Involve workers and their representatives

  • Workers and their representatives must not simply be “consulted” or “informed” but must be actively involved in every step of the risk assessment and management process from planning to evaluation considering their opinions and ideas;
  • It is critical that workers have some collective means of expression.

Key 3: Business ethics and legality

  • One of the most basic of universally accepted ethical principles is to “do no harm” to others and to ensure employees' health and safety;
  • Adhere to workers’ social and ethical codes as part of their role in the broader community;
  • Enforce occupational health codes and laws.
  • Take responsibility for workers, their families and the public and avoid undue risks and human suffering.

Key 4: Use a systematic, comprehensive process to ensure effectiveness and continual improvement

  • Mobilize strategic commitment to a healthy workplace;
  • Assemble the resources required;
  • Assess the current situation and the desired future;
  • Develop priorities;
  • Develop a comprehensive overall plan and specific project action plans by learning from others, for example, consult experts from a local university or ask experienced union leaders to act as mentors, visit other enterprises, consult the virtual world;
  • Implement the plan;
  • Evaluate the acceptance and effectiveness of the plan;
  • Improve when circumstances indicate it is needed.

Key 5: Sustainability and integration

  • Gain senior management commitment to use a health, safety and wellbeing “filter” for all decisions;
  • Integrate the healthy workplace initiatives into the enterprise’s overall strategic business plan;
  • Use cross-functional teams or matrices to reduce isolation of work groups and establish a health and safety committee and a workplace wellness committee;
  • Evaluate and continuously improve;
  • Measure not only financial performance but also customer knowledge, internal business processes and employees’ learning and growth to develop long-term business success;
  • Maintain a comprehensive view to workplace health and safety and examine all aspects to identify a wider range of effective solutions;
  • Consider external influences such as lack of primary health care resources in the wider community;
  • Reinforce and recognise desired behaviour through performance management systems that set behavioural standards and output targets.