This October, I invite all faculty, librarians, and staff at the University of Toronto to participate in Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month. As we transition to a post-pandemic workplace, we have an opportunity to start new and healthier routines and to incorporate a deeper awareness of workplace health into what we do and how we work together.
Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month owes its origins to a week-long campaign by the National Quality Institute (now Excellence Canada) launched in 2001 to raise awareness of the importance of mental and physical wellness in Canadian workplaces. More than two decades later, this conversation remains more urgent than ever.
This past April, the 2022 Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey Report indicated that respondents most satisfied with their jobs (83%) worked in environments that supported the mental and physical health of employees. The Mental Health Commission of Canada, American Psychological Association, and the World Health Organization reinforce the importance of healthy workplaces to human health and to the economy: regardless of our role, these workplaces enable us to be more productive, to feel our work is meaningful, and to be confident that we have the space and the support to grow.
The theme of Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month 2022 is “Together for a Better Workplace,” emphasizing that everyone—employers and employees alike—can play a role in creating and maintaining a healthy workplace.
The University of Toronto supports this collective effort by offering employee resources and programs to encourage healthy lifestyles; maintaining high standards of occupational health and safety; and honouring commitments that sustain our planet and help us engage meaningfully with the communities that surround our campuses. We strive to create a healthy workplace culture by developing or changing policies, processes, programs, and spaces that respond to employees’ individual needs and that affirm their lived experiences and identities.
For employees, maintaining a healthy workplace requires a commitment to personal wellness and to the wellness of our colleagues and teams. It means making the time—even a few minutes each day—to be active, and taking regular work breaks to change our thought patterns or get some fresh air. Our role in maintaining a healthy workplace culture also means exercising our institutional values: being respectful, compassionate, and kind in our interactions, and, through ongoing learning and training, expanding our understanding of ourselves, our colleagues, and our community.
This month, I encourage you to engage in the Healthy Workplace Month programming available through the Integrated Wellness Team at the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture.
Consult the Wellness Calendar to learn about opportunities to explore wellness in all its dimensions, from Stress Relaxation Techniques (October 6) to Trauma-informed Practices for the Workplace (October 24). The Annual U of T Wellness Challenge launches October 1, and will continue throughout the month.