Workplace Wellness Programs

Healthy workplaces lead to healthier employees which, ultimately, results in a healthier organization!

It makes good business sense to have a comprehensive workplace wellness program. Workplace wellness programs play a key role in improving the physical and mental health of employees and can actually save companies money. Employers with wellness programs may be seen as an employer of choice with a greater ability to attract and retain talent. When best practices are applied, comprehensive workplace wellness programs have the potential to increase employee engagement and job satisfaction, and to reduce absenteeism, employee turnover, and rates of accidents.

These topics are only a few of the many wellness topics that can be implemented in your workplace wellness program. Your wellness activities should address topics that are relevant for your employees.  Click on the wellness topics to see example workplace wellness activities.

It is recommended to complete a Workplace Health Promotion Needs Assessment before selecting wellness topics. To understand your employees’ health needs, you may consider reviewing health insurance provider benefits utilization data, workers compensation and disability claims, employee assistance program use, and/or absenteeism records.

Employers are encouraged to implement a cross-section of activities for various wellness topics using several health promotion strategies (i.e., awareness raising, education, skill-building, environmental supports and supportive policies). 

These are the types of activities assessed through the Gord Smith Healthy Workplace Awards

Click on each wellness topic for example activities (i.e. Mental Health Promotion, Nutrition, Physical Activity, Injury Prevention, Infection Prevention and Control, or Substance Use).

  1. Awareness Raising Activities raise awareness about important health issues by choosing effective communication strategies that reach all of your employees, such as sharing health information through posters, pamphlets or newsletters on bulletin boards, e-mail blasts, social media posts, information on paystubs or through posting on an internal workplace website.
  2. Education and Skill Building Activities help employees develop the knowledge and skills necessary to support healthy living, such as through lunch and learn presentations, demonstrations, hands-on learning, webinars, health fairs, workplace challenges, or workplace contests. 
  3. Environmental Supports create a physical, social, and cultural workplace environment that encourage and support employees to promote and maintain their health. 
  4. Supportive Policies can go a long way to ensuring that awareness raising, education and skill building, and environmental support components are in place now and into the future.  For the Gord Smith Healthy Workplace Awards, these three types of policies are acceptable:
    • Workplace Wellness Policies: These are stand alone policies specific to the wellness topic (i.e., Healthy Vending Machine Policy specific to the healthy eating wellness topic.)
    • Policy statements within other policies: These are not full policies on a wellness topic, but may be included as a statement in another broader policy (i.e., fitness membership reimbursement in a general human resources policy for the physical activity wellness topic).  This may include organizational policies or union contract language.
    • Position statements: These are official organizational positions that are dated and signed by an organizational leader.  This may include organizational or work sector standards or human resources guidelines.  Letter or memos from senior management or unofficial documents would not qualify.
  5. Comprehensive Workplace Wellness Policy specifies your employer’s commitment to organizational practices that promote and support the health and well-being of employees and their families; outlines senior management and employee roles and responsibilities regarding wellness; and defines how the wellness program is communicated and offered to employees and their families. 
  6. Organizational Social Responsibility Activities demonstrate your employer’s commitment to improving the health and well-being of the community in addition to their own employees.  They not only build a better public image, but also raise awareness about important health and wellness issues, and boost employee engagement.  Examples include sponsoring local children’s sports teams, participating in fundraising for health research or health issues (e.g., dress down days, BBQs, or golf tournaments), participating in community physical activity challenges (e.g., walks, runs, bikes, or obstacle courses), neighbourhood clean-up, donation drives (e.g. blood, clothing, or toys) or volunteering hours in the community (e.g., food bank or community build projects).
  7. Living Wage Certification for Employers.  A living wage is different from the minimum wage.  The minimum wage rate is pre-set by the government and is the lowest rate an employer can legally pay for work performed. A living wage is calculated based on the real cost of goods and services in Windsor and Essex County and is the minimum amount a person must earn to afford to live and participate in a specific community. A living wage takes into consideration basic level of economic security and quality of life for most two-parent families.  It provides the means to raise children and take part in social and community activities. This means that the rate varies from community to community and may change year-to-year.

    To learn more about Living Wage Certification and to apply visit  Direct any questions to or call 519-258-2146 ext. 3100.

For an up-to-date list of members on the Working Toward Wellness Committee, please visit

The Workplace Wellness email list provides employers with wellness resources that may be of interest to both employers and employees. Information about upcoming events, as well as opportunities for your workplace to participate in various community-based social responsibility opportunities (e.g. Heart and Stroke Big Bike, Blood drives, etc.), is shared. These resources are designed to support you in delivering workplace wellness programming, and to assist you in qualifying for the Gord Smith Healthy Workplace Awards

The Healthy at Work Webinar Series offers free educational webinars hosted by experts on a variety of health-related topics. They are designed to help build employees’ and employers knowledge and skills, and promote health in the workplace and beyond.

The Windsor and Essex County Living Wage Program was adapted from the previous Pathway to Potential Living Wage Program. The purpose of the program is to raise awareness about the true cost of living in Windsor and Essex County, and to advance policies, partnerships, and practices that promote health and well-being for our community. The program aims to provide education about what a living wage is and why it is important. It also encourages local employers to become Living Wage Certified.