Quality Improvement


All Categories » Workforce » Story Details

Healthy workplace

Healthy workplace

What is a "Healthy Workplace?"

The World Health Organization (WHO) 2010, define ‘Healthy Workplaces’ as:

A healthy workplace is one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace by considering the following, based on identified needs:

  • health and safety concerns in the physical work environment
  • Better, best, brillianthealth, safety and well-being concerns in the psycho-social work environment, including organisation of work and workplace culture
  • personal health resources in the workplace
  • ways of participating in the community to improve the health of workers, their families and other members of the community

Creating a healthy workplace is the right, legal and smart thing to do.

What is the impact of having a ‘Healthy Workplace’?

‘Healthy Workplaces’ are beneficial for:

  • employees: improves individuals’ health and wellbeing, job satisfaction and morale whilst increasing commitment, motivation, creativity and innovation
  • patients / clients and families / whanau: receive safer, higher quality care, and improved outcomes
  • Waitemata DHB: attracts and retains quality staff, improves outcomes and leads by example
  • society: improves social determinants of health
  • economy: direct impact on productivity, sustainable healthcare workforce and healthcare costs

What are we trying to achieve?

Creating environments that improve and support ‘healthy workplaces’ at all levels through a holistic, strategic, organisation-wide approach will contribute to Waitemata DHB’s promise of ‘Best Care for Everyone’.  An engaged, committed, motivated, valued workforce directly leads to improved quality and safety of care, delivery of services and outcomes.

“If we expect the health care workforce to care for patients, we need to care for the workforce” 

“Workplace safety is … inextricably linked to patient safety”

(Lucian Leape, 2013)

Flu innoculation
Free flu innoculations are offered to our staff annually

Health, work and wellbeing are inextricably linked.  One of the key findings of the Francis Report (2013)[1] was the need for an engaged, supported workforce with effective leadership to provide ‘good care’ for patients.  The “theme of the recommendations will be a need for a greater cohesion and unity of culture, by engagement of every single person serving patients in contributing to a safer, committed and compassionate and caring service” (Francis Report. Executive Summary, p.18).

There are numerous factors that put increasing pressures on healthcare services and the workforce:

  • increase in chronic conditions and an ageing workforce
  • changing healthcare demands, expectations and ways of working
  • a predicted international shortfall of professional healthcare staff, with global competition
  • limited resources, creating a conflict of how to provide quality safe care and services to meet increasing demands

These pressures lead to stress, burnout, and low morale and job satisfaction.  Approximately 70% of direct costs of healthcare are attributed to staff.  Therefore it is vital to strengthen the links between people and performance

'The cost of inaction is high'

  1. Report of the Mid Saffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry. Robert Francis QC. February 2013. www.midstaffspublicinquiry.com/report


What have we done?

Waitemata DHB has made considerable progress towards creating a Healthy Workplace (HWP) over the last few years with  some key initiatives:

Waitemata DHB Yearbook 2012
Waitemata DHB's yearbook for 2012
[view our yearbook for 2012]

  • Organisational:  A Healthy Workplace Steering Group and an evidence-based Healthy Workplace Strategy; a part time key lead coordinator; a healthy workplace stock-take; and numerous areas of policy development and review.
  • Liaison and networking Extensive work internally, regionally, nationally and internationally ensuring up-to-date evidence-based practices are integrated
  • Engagement and teaching opportunities:  Multiple avenues at all levels, highlighting the importance of HWP, teamwork and resilience.
  • Measures development:  Working with key leaders to identify and collate key measures.
  • Existing work:  Revitalising existing groups and maintaining the ‘Heartbeat Award’.
  • Ongoing research:  Supporting a literature review looking at the link between healthy workplaces and healthcare and the potential for Waitemata DHB to ‘lead the way’.
  • New work and contributions to:  Team Challenge; a staff gymnasium; and cardiovascular and diabetes risk assessments for staff.

This is a living process that we need to embed in every part of the organisation.  It needs to be flexible and adaptable to the constant changes of the organisation and environment.
- Dale Bramley, Chief Executive Waitemata DHB

Where to from here?

The next staff engagement survey will be critical for determining future interventions.