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Tag Archive for: workplace health


Six Simple Ways to Improve Nutrition As A Team

Julie Entwistle, C.Dir. (c), MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

It is no secret that obesity is on the rise across North America.  In fact, a 2014 study shows that obesity now accounts for 8.6% of youth and 25% of the adult population.  (Després, Alméras, & Gauvin, 2014)   The leading causes of this “obesity epidemic” are sedentary lifestyles, lack of physical activity and poor nutritional choices.

With the stressful lives being led by our generation, taking time to prepare and bring healthy lunches and snacks to work is difficult.  Yet, without a healthy snack or lunch, the tendency is to purchase food that is not healthy, or to under-eat which, believe it or not, can also cause obesity as our body works to “hold onto” every calorie in fear of starvation.

Employers may ask “why do I care if my team is eating unhealthy”, but the answer is obvious:  a healthy workforce is a productive workforce and workplace absences for health-related problems (including obesity, heart disease, diabetes etc) are hugely disruptive.

Here are a few suggestions that can be implemented in the workplace to help improve the health of your staff and organization:

  1. Schedule Regular Healthy Pot-Luck Lunches — choose a day of the week and have each person bring in a healthy lunch item for a team-building activity.
  2. Bring a Colleague a Lunch — people are more likely to prepare healthy meals for others than for themselves, so capitalize on this and arrange for “bring a colleague a lunch week” and see the efforts people will go to in order to promote the health of a colleague.
  3. Recipe of the Week — each week choose a member of the team to share make their favourite healthy meal or snack and bring it in to share with the team.  Have them send each member a recipe via email for them to make on their own.
  4. Education Opportunities — bring in a nutritionist, dietician or health coach to speak to the team about how to create healthy meals and snacks to help fuel their day at work.
  5. Brown Bag Week — encourage the team to have a “brown bag” week.  Eating out can lead to unhealthy choices and lack of portion control.  Bringing your own lunch can help to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need and fueling productivity the entire day.
  6. Russian Lunch Roulette — like secret Santa, have everyone bring a balanced lunch and randomly select who gets what lunch.  It always tastes better to consume something made by someone else, so people should enjoy the surprise lunch they end up with.  Of course, plan ahead for any allergies/food requests and ask people to put sauces/condiments on the side to be added only if desired.

In the end, lead by example.  Employers have the ability to create opportunities that can help their workforce to engage in healthy habits.  Use the strength of your organizational alliance to bring people together to help them achieve healthy goals.  Everyone will benefit, including the organization.


Previously posted August 2015


The Importance of Ergonomics

I’m sure you’ve heard the term, “ergonomics” before, but do you know what it means and more importantly, how it could benefit your organization?

Ergonomics is a catch-all phrase for the process of ensuring the body is in an appropriate position when completing daily tasks. Sitting, standing, bending, lifting – all these movements require the proper ergonomic position of the legs, spine, and arms to promote comfort and productivity, and to reduce the risk of physical injury.  Proper ergonomics is often most important at work, as this is where you spend the majority of your time.

Everyone deserves to be comfortable at work – from the front line staff to the CEO. When people are comfortable they are happier, more productive, feel valued and supported, and are less likely to leave work due to physical injury from poor office ergonomics.

Check out our informative video for information on how an Occupational Therapist can help in your office by keeping people at work, enhancing productivity, reducing costs, and promoting employee morale and satisfaction.


The A to Z of OT: J is For… Job Demands Analysis

A physical (and cognitive) demands analysis goes beyond the standard job description, as these typically only define the job to be performed in terms of duties and roles. In contrast, a physical and cognitive demands analysis digs deeper into the job and clearly outlines all the different demands that will be placed on that worker in that position.

Physical components such as lifting, carrying, walking, and fine motor skills, along with cognitive demands like visual and perceptual skills, attention, and memory are important to understand and document.  Then, when hiring workers, these reports serve as a reference point for ensuring the right hire, and are also essential in making solid decisions about someone’s ability to return to a job after injury or illness.

Learn more about Job Demands Analysis in our post, The Physical Demands Analysis – Risk Reduction for Employers, Employees and Physicians


October is Occupational Therapy Month and to celebrate we will be sharing a new series called the A to Z of OT.  In our attempts to further educate the public about what Occupational Therapists do we will be highlighting twenty-six of the awesome ways OTs provide Solutions for Living.  

We encourage you to follow along and to add to the discussion by highlighting other awesome things OTs help with for each corresponding letter!


Proven Ways to Put a Stop to Procrastination

Procrastination is defined as “the action of delaying or postponing something.”  Whether you’re the CEO of a large corporation or a stay at home Mom, we all procrastinate sometimes.  But why?  The following from Forbes Magazine will help you to delve deeper into the reasoning of why we put things off and provide you with tips to put a stop to your procrastination.

Forbes:  The Truth Behind Why We Procrastinate

For more information on how to be more productive, check out our previous post:  “Just Get Er Done.



Absenteeism and Presenteeism Are Costing Your Organization—It’s Time to Take Action!

Absenteeism and Presenteeism in the workplace are hurting the bottom line of individual organizations.  In fact, a 2013 study by The Conference Board of Canada shows that absenteeism alone is costing the Canadian economy $16.6 billion each year.  Despite this, a recent study done by Morneau Sheppell shows that while the majority of employers are concerned about absenteeism they do not give much thought to the issue of presenteeism, as it is harder to quantify.  Both may be hurting your bottom line.

So our question to you is:  what is your organization doing to combat this billion dollar problem?

See more on the study here:

Morneau Shepell releases study on the reasons and predictors of workplace absenteeism and presenteeism

For more on workplace health and wellness visit our Healthy Workplace page.



Give Your Back A Boost

An earlier feature in our Workplace Wednesday series highlighted the issue of back pain at work and discussed the importance of prevention. One strategy that is essential in preventing injuries to our backs at work involves exercise. Many people know that exercising has important overall health benefits but may not make the connection that the physical conditioning that comes with exercise can have an important impact on preventing and managing back injuries and back pain at work.

An important part of developing a healthy back involves stabilizing the spine by strengthening the muscles in our core. The major muscles involved in stabilizing our core include our back extensors, lateral obliques (muscles along our sides) and our rectus abdominis (known as the ‘six-pack’ muscles). But just because we know that we should exercise to strengthen our backs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we know which exercises we should do.  The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety have a great resource for exercises that can be completed at work to help strengthen your back and prevent back injuries at work.

For more details, including step by step instructions and photograph demonstrations, visit the CCOHS website or talk to an Occupational Therapist.


How To Plan For the Retirement You Want? Concentrate on Your Health

What’s the top reason many Canadians are retiring earlier than planned? Unfortunately it’s not because of superior wealth planning, or unexpected windfall through the lotto – it’s because of poor health. A recent survey from Sun Life Financial shows that of the 69 percent of Canadians who retired earlier than planned, 29 percent were forced to retire due to their health. Understandably, this has caused major financial hardship for many.

There has been ample discussion recently relating the way we work to the many health problems we face. From mental health issues to sitting disease, the stressful yet sedentary working lifestyle is definitely taking a toll on the health of the Canadian workforce.

So the question is: how can employers help prevent this?

1. Offer a corporate Wellness Program with incentives for positive healthy behaviours
2. Ensure the benefits you offer employees include comprehensive health benefits
3. Have a workplace assessment conducted to ensure you are creating the healthiest environment for workers
4. Model healthy behaviour and habits from the top down
5. Offer financial planning and retirement planning programs to help employees plan for retirement in addition to the costs unforeseen illness

The Globe and Mail:  Health issues force many into early retirement, new study finds  

Check out more of our feature posts on workplace health.


Culture Creation

Focus on building a positive workplace culture is at the forefront of many business decisions as more and more employers are realizing they need to take care of their biggest asset, their employees. Creating a more positive culture and environment for employees is a process that cannot and will not happen overnight. So what’s the best way for employers to start? By empowering their people. By definition empowerment means “to give official authority or power to someone.” Of course it’s not suggested that employers forfeit all control and authority, however, but by empowering employees with more decision making and responsibility they can actually increase employee productivity and help to create a shift toward a more positive culture. The following from Forbes has more on this shift toward creating a people focussed place of work.

Forbes:  4 Ways To Build A Workplace Culture That Empowers People


How to Create a More Productive Work Environment

No matter what type of work you do, everyone can experience productivity blockages during the day. Whether it’s a poor sleep the night before, the afternoon sluggishness, or simply a lack of inspiration for the project you’re working on, these slowdowns in productivity can be detrimental to your success. Occupational therapists are often involved in helping people to achieve workplace productivity by providing solutions for a more adaptable and comfortable working environment. The following article from Forbes discusses 5 small changes you can make today to help you concentrate and increase your productivity.

Forbes:  5 Small Workspace Changes That Will Make You More Productive


Mental Health At Work

While minor accidents are common in the workplace and quickly addressed, higher instances of stress, mental illness, and workplace bullying are being seen across all industries. So who in the workplace is the first responder in issues of mental health? The following from the BBC discusses a way to ensure your company is tackling these workplace issues and improving the work environment for all.

BBC News:  Do you need a mental health first aider in the office?