This workplace initiative helps men embrace wellness
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
Wellness is the next greatest thing in business, and it has a symbiotic relationship with WHS or Work
Health and Safety in general. Wellness is a relatively new initiative that businesses are promoting to
their employees, however, 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 men who are typically less likely to
participate in workplace wellness programs.
I am a man, and, to be honest, that 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. Also, traditional norms around masculinity
and work can also increase the risk of dangerous practices, and men are 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 four-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 well-being.
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 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 donesafe.com
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