Healthy Work Strategies

Healthy Work Strategies include workplace policies, programs, contract language, regulations and laws designed to reduce sources of stress at work (work stressors), and to make work and workers healthier. Each report below is a summary about how to improve the organization of work to reduce work stressors, such as:

Long work hours, bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, threats of violence, understaffing, job insecurity, lack of supervisor or coworker support, work-family conflict, job demands, lack of job control, job strain, and “effort-reward imbalance.”

The types of Healthy Work Strategies below include:

Workplace research studies and programs to reduce work stressors

The research studies and programs, published in scientific journals, were selected because they were designed to reduce sources of stress at different workplaces in order to improve employee health (health promotion programs intended to change individual behaviors are not included). Many include a participatory “action” research focus, which means they involved workers, labor and management in a process that was intended to create positive change. These studies document the effects of workplace programs and policies and provide important details about the process of changing working conditions—so that you can see if such a process might work in your workplace or industry.

Public Sector Workers

Increasing job control and reducing other job stressors among call center workers in England

Redesigning the jobs of postal workers in Uppsala, Sweden

Changing workplace policies and procedures reduced blood pressure among Quebec, Canada white-collar workers

Manufacturing

Job redesign at a sweets manufacturing company in England

Health Care

Reducing work stress and improving the mental health of hospital workers (Quebec, Canada)

Teachers/Education

Workplace policies and programs to reduce job stress among K-12 education staff (U.S.)

Workplace bullying/discrimination/violence

A training program for workers and managers on reducing male bullying and workplace violence (U.S.)

Supervisor Support and Work-life balance

Reducing work-family conflict through supervisor training on Family Supportive Supervisor Behaviors (FSSB)

Improving employee safety, health, and well-being through improved team communication and work-family balance

Laws and Regulations

Many of these legislative efforts were initiated through the efforts of certain industries, unions or worker groups to improve aspects of the work environment, but were not primarily to improve workers’ health and have not been scientifically studied to determine their effectiveness. However, laws and regulations also typically reach more people than the workplace-based programs that have been studied. These reports were based on news stories and reports from specific unions and/or industry publications.

Job redesign and national labor protections have positive effects on worker health and the economy

Laws to improve nurse staffing levels in hospitals in the U.S.

Stress Check: A national policy in Japan for prevention of workplace stress

Work scheduling laws contribute to more stable employment

Workplace bullying prevention laws and regulations

Laws and regulation to prevent workplace violence in healthcare

Legislation to prevent workplace sexual harassment

Government labor inspectors’ role in protecting workers’ mental health in Quebec

 

If you have any questions or comments about these reports, or have updates or new programs, policies, or laws that you would like us to include, please feel free to contact us.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank and acknowledge the many people who wrote and reviewed these case studies, not the least of which Paul Landsbergis, PhD, MPH, Principal Investigator for the Healthy Work Toolkit, who supervised the development, review and completion of each case study, in addition to researching and writing a number of them.

This project was made possible, in large part, by the dedication of Dr. Landsbergis’ SUNY Downstate School of Public Health graduate students, who researched and drafted many of the case studies, and whose time was funded by a grant from the Center for Social Epidemiology. We greatly appreciate and acknowledge:

  • Jeanine Botta
  • Daphne Brown
  • Rivka Franklin
  • Elina Shtridler

Additionally, for their review and helpful comments, we warmly thank and acknowledge:

  • Alex Bryson
  • Bill Borwegen
  • Mark Catlin
  • Ellen Cobb
  • Marnie Dobson
  • Mahée Gilbert-Ouimet
  • Leslie Hammer
  • David Holman
  • Katherine Lippel
  • Jane Lipscomb
  • Minnesota Association of Public Employees
  • New York State Nursing Association
  • Jonathan Rosen
  • Jan Thomason
  • Xavier Trudel
  • Kurt Wahlstedt
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