Creating Healthy Health Care Workplaces in British Columbia: Evidence for Action

Creating Healthy Health Care Workplaces in British Columbia: Evidence for Action. A DISCUSSION PAPER
Prepared for the Provincial Health Services Authority.
There is a business case for investing in healthier work environments within health care. Furthermore, there are substantial costs to inaction.
Return on investment (ROI) analyses has been used to evaluate workplace health promotion programs in various settings, but rarely in health care.
Designing evaluation into healthy workplace interventions, and disseminating the findings, will go a long way to filling this information gap.
Workplace health promotion interventions that are comprehensive, well designed, and successfully implemented tend to have good ROI.
Decision-makers must be aware of the limitations of conducting ROI research on organizational interventions.
Research on the causes and consequences of healthy and unhealthy work environments also to indicates directions for change.
Further improvements in employee health and organizational performance will require changes in job design, organizational systems and structures, and work environments.
Healthy workplaces can contribute to the major strategic directions of health care system renewal.
Creating healthier workplaces requires a shift in leadership thinking and organizational culture so that human assets are highly valued.
Successful healthy workplace change requires strong commitment from top management that is reinforced in all their decisions and actions.
In healthy workplaces, all managers and supervisors have the time, encouragement, and training needed to be effective people leaders.
Measuring progress requires four categories of indicators: healthy workplace drivers, working conditions, employee outcomes, and organizational benefits.
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Creating a Quality Work Environment: Survey Results

Creating a Quality Work Environment
The Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) conducted a Work Environment Survey to provide new evidence that can be used constructively to improve the work environments of HSAA members, and through this, contribute to health service excellence in Alberta. The 74-page report, Creating a Quality Work Environment: Results from the HSAA 2006 Work Environment Survey, is a basis for action within workplaces.
The survey provides the most reliable and comprehensive analysis ever conducted in Alberta of health care employees that included HSAA members. It examined work environment factors affecting the quality of work life, individual quality of work-life outcomes, and organizational outcomes.
The full report and a 1-page summary can be downloaded from this site, or at the HSAA website ( Also available on the HSAA website are a survey results for each of 14 employers.
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Making a measurable difference: evaluating quality of work life interventions

Across the country, nurses and other front-line health system workers are taking actions to improve the quality of their work environment. A high quality work environment is being accepted, albeit slowly, as a prerequisite for building the human resource capacity needed to sustain the health system. As more time and money are invested in trying to improve the quality of work life for Canada’s health-care workers, it is crucial to know whether progress is being made. The key question that must be answered is, “Are we making a measurable difference for individual employees, patients, and the organization?”
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Healthy Workplace Strategies

Healthy Workplace Strategies: Creating Change and Achieving Results.
Healthy jobs and workplaces benefit workers and employers, customers and shareholders, citizens and society. This report focuses on the organizational change processes, strategies and tactics that can bring about healthier and more productive working conditions. The report offers an action model for achieving healthy organizations. The model highlights the importance of establishing enabling conditions in order to make the organization change-ready, then designing a process that engages all stakeholders in actively shaping a healthy workplace. The report offers practical ideas, examples and tools to help generate healthy workplace actions.
This report is available in both English and French.

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Healthy Workplaces and Productivity

This paper examines two health issues of crucial importance to practitioners and policy makers: the work environment and organizational factors that positively influence workers’ health and well-being, and the relationship between healthy workplaces and productivity. Research in diverse disciplines agrees on the importance of supporting employees to be effective in their jobs in ways that promote, not compromise, their health. The ingredients include leadership that values employees as key assets, supportive supervision at all levels, employee participation, job control, communication, opportunities to learn, and a culture that gives priority to work-life balance and individual wellness. There is also evidence of causal links between working conditions, interventions designed to create healthier workplaces, employee health, and firm-level productivity. Studies suggest that successful healthy workplace initiatives are comprehensive in scope, integrated with other human resource programs, and have well-designed implementation strategies based on strong leadership, good communication and extensive participation. While significant knowledge gaps remain, these should not deter employers, employees and policy makers from taking action now to create healthy organizations.
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Men’s and Women’s Quality of Work in the New Canadian Economy

Despite much debate and commentary on the emerging knowledge economy in Canada and other
industrialized countries, there has been little in-depth analysis of how gender issues are playing
out in the process of economic and workplace change. Women’s experiences on the job are
usually examined using a limited range of measures, and scant attention has been paid to the
expectations that women and men bring to the workplace. The purpose of this report is to
provide new evidence on what women and men want in a job, and how they are experiencing the
transition to a knowledge-based economy.
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Workshop on Quality of Worklife Indicators for Canadian Nurses

Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) convened in 2002 a national workshop in Ottawa to develop quality of worklife indicators for nurses in Canada. Using a collaborative, consensus-building process the workshop actively engaged participants in identifying a set of practical quality of worklife indicators (QWI) that will make a measurable difference for professional nurses. The workshop’s major recommendation is that these indicators be incorporated into the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation (CCHSA) Achieving Improved Measurement (AIM) standards used for accrediting healthcare organizations.
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Creating High-Quality Health Care Workplaces

Health human resources have emerged as a top priority for research and action. This paper echoes calls for a fundamentally new approach to the people side of the health care system – treating employees as assets that need to be nurtured rather than costs that need to be controlled. The question guiding the paper is: “What are the key ingredients of a high-quality work environment in Canada’s health care sector and how can this goal be achieved?” Synthesizing insights from a variety of research streams, the paper identifies many ingredients are needed to create a high-quality workplace. We take a multidisciplinary and holistic approach, which complements other research initiatives on health human resources in three ways. The paper suggests that health care organizations can, and must, achieve a virtuous circle connecting work environments, individual quality of work life, and organizational performance.
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Report on the National Roundtable on Learning

Participants at the National Roundtable on Learning, convened by Canadian Policy Research Networks on behalf of Human Resources Development Canada, proposed a Vision for Learning as a way to address the widely expressed concern at the Roundtable that Canada is not moving fast enough to increase learning opportunities and to remove barriers to learning. Acknowledging our past successes in education, the vision is a strong commitment that learning in the future must occur throughout a person’s life.
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