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This workplace initiative helps men embrace wellness

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A new health and safety initiative in Canada is targeted at men working in high-risk industries, helping them adopt wellness habits that translate into safer practices and more harmonious workplaces.

Wellness is the next greatest thing in business, and it has a symbiotic relationship with WHS or Work Health and Safety in general. With wellness being a relatively new initiative that businesses are passing on to their employees, a big issue has surfaced – how do you get people to actually participate in a wellness program? It requires a lifestyle change. And it is the men who are typically less likely than women to participate in workplace wellness programs.

I am a man, and to be honest it doesn’t surprise me. I don’t need science to tell me that men resist change; I kick up a fuss when my fiancé changes the brand of toothpaste I use!

Good news, someone has come up with a great solution.

Powerplay, which brands itself as an “evidence-based workplace wellness program for men,” seeks to instill practical healthy habits through a distinctly masculine approach to these subjects. The foundation of the program was to find out directly from men what kind of initiatives would be most useful to them. To get this information, the researchers behind the project held a series of focus groups with male employees of a trucking company, chemical plant, and city government in several locations across British Columbia.

Some of the most dangerous and high-risk industries are male-dominated. Although they understand the benefits of wellness, men are typically less likely than women to participate in workplace wellness programs, for a variety of reasons. Traditional norms around masculinity and work can also increase the risk of dangerous practices. Men are also prone to high levels of stress and substance abuse.

Although they go hand in hand, there are important differences in addressing and managing wellness and safety. While both should be part of a company’s culture, there is an advantage in regulating safety through regulations and warnings. On the other hand, wellness is often left up to the individual initiative. The lack of explicit warning signs, combined with the daily toll of work, means that health and wellness become all too easy to neglect.

The researchers who created the training modules found that they could engage men more successfully by making the activities competitive. The series consists of three 4-week challenges. The physical activity component consists of a step challenge where participants compete against each other in a virtual Great Northern Circle Route (2775 km). The second challenge incorporates healthy eating into the competition. Participants split up into teams and earn points for their team each time they make a healthy choice. The third challenge focuses on mental health, wellness, promoting teamwork, and a positive attitude toward others. The teams compete in exchanging ‘acts of kindness,’ which are tallied on a hockey-themed training poster.

Since improving workers’ attitudes about health can have a positive impact on their safety practices, it’s clear how this program fits into a culture of workplace safety. Each challenge is tied to workplace health and takes place in a work setting, but the program is also beneficial to overall wellbeing. Instead of just providing information, the training modules focus on creating healthy habits that impact overall work performance, like exercise and choosing nutritious food over fast food.

The program also shatters the stereotype that men in male-dominated fields are not interested in building healthy habits. The CBC reports that the men participating in the program claimed that they were motivated to stay healthy in order to continue to provide financial support to their families. The research that went into this initiative shows just how effective it can be to design training programs based on firsthand research, rather than employing a one-size-fits-all approach to health and safety.

At Donesafe, we could not agree more. One size never fits all. That is why Donesafe is proving so popular and successful amongst our clients – our health and safety management software is completely configurable. Donesafe adapts to your needs, and not the other way around.

And as always, keep safe out there.

By Donesafe at

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