Total Worker Health in Action: September 2023
Volume 12, Number 3, September 2023
L. CASEY CHOSEWOOD, MD, MPH
Join us in celebrating National Recovery Month in September! At the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, we are passionate about designing work that both prevents harmful substance use and supports workers seeking recovery. Recently, we worked with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Worker Training Program to publish a national analysis. This study captured the achievements and gaps of 25 established Recovery Friendly Workplace programs. It also informed about 19 programs in the planning or beginning stages. These programs are in 31 states. NIOSH also recently contributed to the development of a Recovery-Ready Workplace Resource Hub. You can find information and tools on the value of using recovery-friendly policies, how to get started, and more.
Workplace policies, programs, and practices that safeguard and support worker well-being are critical to helping protect workers, their families, and communities. When you read about the work we do in this issue of Total Worker Health® in Action!, keep in mind its widespread impact. Perhaps you may reflect on the role that you and your organization can play if we work together.
New Articles Highlighting Total Worker Health Leaders
Recently, the American Journal of Health Promotion published two articles highlighting Total Worker Health (TWH) concepts and women leaders in health promotion. Included were multiple female directors of our NIOSH Centers of Excellence for TWH. We wanted to take a moment to celebrate this recognition and acknowledge the tireless work of our partners.
In March, the journal published Excellence in Total Worker Health® and an Interview with Dr. Laura Linnan. This article featured an in-depth discussion with Dr. Laura Linnan, Director of the Carolina Center for Healthy Work Design and Well-Being. In May, the journal published The Ten Most Influential Women Scholars in Health Promotion. This article again featured Dr. Linnan, as well as Drs. Glorian Sorensen and Leslie Hammer, among others. Dr. Sorensen is the Director of the Harvard Chan Center for Work, Health, & Well-being. Dr. Hammer is the Director of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center.
- In her interview, Dr. Linnan discussed the value of TWH approaches. She also talked about her work at the Center and the work of other Centers. She described the Society for TWH and the graduate certificate program, offered through her Center and others. This certificate program helps build capacity and train future TWH practitioners and scholars.
- The second article described Dr. Glorian Sorensen as a pioneer in TWH, receiving the TWH Founder’s Award at the most recent TWH Symposium. You can read more about her contribution to the evolution of TWH in a previous NIOSH Research Rounds
- That article also discussed Dr. Leslie Hammer. Dr. Hammer has contributed greatly to TWH through research at the Oregon Healthy Workforce Program. She focuses on the areas of work-life fit and worker and family-supportive supervision. Recently, Dr. Hammer presented in a TWH Webinar titled How Work Can Impact Mental Health and What Leaders Can Do.
Not only do these articles speak to the quality work of our partners, but they offer a unique opportunity to raise awareness of TWH approaches among an audience focused on traditional health promotion. When implementing TWH strategies, we must reach across disciplines and collaborate to spread the word and improve worker well-being.
Learn more about the work of these and other NIOSH Centers of Excellence for TWH below and on our website.
L. Casey Chosewood, MD, MPH, Executive Editor
Sarah Mitchell, Managing Editor
Julci Areza, Contributing Editor
Cheryl Hamilton, Copy Editor
Matt Osborne, NIOSH Web Developer
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Colorado Highlights Promising Practices for Work and Family Well-Being
Editor’s Note: This Promising Practice article is part of a series dedicated to work and family well-being. To learn more about this topic or explore work-life conflict, consider watching webinars from our TWH Webinar Series: Navigating Work-Life Boundaries or Promoting a Sustainable Work-Nonwork Interface.
Work-life (or work-family) conflict is an occupational hazard that can cause stress and negatively impact the well-being of workers and their families. Job characteristics, such as low job autonomy, inflexible/inconsistent scheduling, the lack of employer-sponsored benefits, and a demanding work culture, can create work-life conflict. To help address this, the Colorado Center for Health, Work & Environment, through its Health Links® Program, collaborated with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Together, they created a toolkit for employers to learn more on how to best support workers who have caregiving roles.
What is a Family-Friendly Workplace?
The Colorado Family-Friendly Workplace Toolkit defines a family-friendly workplace in terms of eight components of work. The strategies in the toolkit align well with a TWH approach. Each of the components requires leadership commitment to safety, health, and well-being. They also involve redesigning work to eliminate or reduce work-life conflict and to promote worker and family well-being.
How do these components fit into the NIOSH framework for worker well-being?
The NIOSH framework for worker well-being identifies five domains of worker well-being:
- Workplace physical environment and safety climate
- Work evaluation and experience
- Workplace policies and culture
- Health status
- Home, community, and society
The NIOSH Worker Well-Being Questionnaire (WellBQ) can help employers holistically assess worker well-being. This framework complements the Colorado Family-Friendly Workplace Toolkit to assess and improve work-related family well-being outcomes.
- Work experience, physical environment, and safety climate support a worker in their caregiving role. Listed are some examples:
- Pay workers a living wage. This allows working caregivers to afford housing, childcare, and other basic needs.
- Offer free or subsidized caregiving services for workers through tax benefits, on-site care, or partnerships with third-party providers.
- Provide supportive services for expectant and new parents. This might include (1) accommodating and allowing for lactation and infants at work, and (2) offering designated parking spaces or new parent support groups.
- Provide equitable career development opportunities for women and men. This includes equal and adequate paid parental leave, parent-considerate promotion schedules, and formal professional development training.
Example: In Colorado, the Boulder County government implemented an Infants-at-Work Program. The program recognizes parents’ responsibilities to their jobs and their infants by allowing all full-time workers to bring their infants to work until their child is one year old. Parents work with their supervisors and Human Resources to establish a work schedule. They are expected to maintain acceptable work performance and ensure the infant does not create office disturbances.
- Workplace policies and culture can benefit a worker’s health status and their home, community, and society.
- Offer comprehensive health benefits for workers and their families.
- Implement paid leave policies that allow workers to care for themselves and their families.
- Develop a culture of flexibility based on mutual trust, worker-influenced policies, and supportive management. Some workers may require flexible schedules to care for family needs. Others may request more stable schedules with consistent hours to reduce emotional and economic stress.
- Consider supporting community initiatives and organizations that promote the interests of working families to fulfill corporate social responsibility.
Example: KPMG, a multinational professional services network with offices in Denver, Colorado, supports new parents in several ways. They offer a comprehensive lactation program, consultative phone calls to assist new mothers, New Parent Career Coaching for all parents, and official parent networks to connect local workers.
The Colorado Family-Friendly Workplace Toolkit provides examples of policies and practices for employers to support working families. Following this guidance, Early Matters Greater Austin created their own family-friendly workplace toolkit highlighting examples in Austin, Texas. With tailored guides for different localities, employers can connect with nearby businesses and organizations and learn from their success.
Total Worker Health® Webinar Series: SMART Work Design for Healthy and Productive Work
Join us Wednesday, October 18, 10–11 a.m. (ET), for a webinar on work design. We’ve collaborated with the NIOSH Healthy Work Design and Well-Being Program to host Professor Sharon Parker, PhD. She is the Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design at Curtin University. Dr. Parker will present her work developing the S.M.A.R.T. work design model, a framework to help design meaningful and motivating work. The themes for SMART work are: Stimulating, Mastery, Agency, Relational, and Tolerable Demands. Dr. Parker will also discuss why work design is critical to worker well-being and how you can incorporate the model into your organization. A moderated question-and-answer session will follow. Free continuing education is available. Register here.
NIOSH Summer Intern Conducts Affiliate Analysis
This summer, NIOSH hosted Lauren Hester, an intern participating in the Morehouse College Lewis Scholars Imhotep Project. Lauren is a rising senior at the Georgia Institute of Technology. While at NIOSH, she reviewed the activities of the 58 NIOSH TWH affiliate organizations. She also analyzed the types of activities affiliates said they wanted to implement. She found that policy and education were among the most popular activity categories. Her results revealed that it may be useful for affiliates to have customized initiatives and to report regularly on those initiatives. These actions would assist in capturing and quantifying outcomes and successes of TWH-related activities by affiliate organizations. The NIOSH TWH Program appreciates Lauren’s work and looks forward to offering further training opportunities.
- The Center for Health, Work & Environment cohosted a webinar titled Exploring Ethics and Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace. Speakers, including NIOSH’s Dr. John Howard, discussed the challenges and opportunities for artificial intelligence in the workplace. The Center’s Health Links® launched an updated Healthy Workplace Assessment™. The program provides advising and assessment to organizations to improve the health, safety, and well-being of workers. The updated assessment will help employers gain a more comprehensive view of their workplace health and safety programs and policies. It will also place new focus on the categories of sleep, hybrid work, leadership, and equity.
- The Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) is hosting some exciting October training. The sessions offered are for TWH facilitator training and building TWH leaders in unions and worker organizations. New Spanish language materials and case studies are available for the Healthy Workplace Participatory Program Toolkit. With support from the California Labor Lab, researchers at CPH-NEW will begin a mixed methods study in Fall 2023 to understand the impact of extended work hours and the high-stress work environment of trade union staff.
- The Center for Work, Health, & Well-being collaborated with TWH Affiliate HealthPartners/HealthPartners Institute of Minnesota. Together, they developed a 90-minute interactive webinar specifically for HealthPartners’ clients, introducing TWH concepts to a range of employer representatives. These organizations are primarily in the upper Midwest of the United States, while some are national or global companies. At the conclusion of the webinar, each participant had a foundational TWH action plan they could apply within their own workplace. They also had the option of requesting the assistance of a HealthPartners consultant to assist in enacting their plan.
- The Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest released a number of new resources: (1) In a new podcast, Young Worker Safety, Health, and Well-Being, Dr. Diane Rohlman explains why youth are vulnerable at work. She also discusses how employers can effectively train and communicate with young workers to protect their health and ensure a safe workplace; (2) A recording of the Center’s Collaborative Learning Community training titled The Why and How of Recovery Friendly Workplaces is now available online. A Guide for Employers provides further help on recruiting, supporting, and retaining workers in recovery.
- A recording of the “National Summit on Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing: A Focus on the Graduate Academic Environment” is now available. The event was sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Psychosocial, Organizational, and Environmental Total Worker Health® Center in Mental Health . Other partners included The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Luv u Project, and The Johns Hopkins Education and Research Center for Occupational Safety and Health.
- The Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC) posted a recording from their Spring Symposium: “Sleep and Shift Work: Implications for Worker Health and Safety.” OHWC researcher, Dr. Emily Huang, has partnered with the Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries and the Oregon Department of Transportation. They aim to develop and validate a tool to assess respectful climates within construction companies. This tool will help organizations measure employee sentiments regarding respectful workplace climates and cultures. Leaders can make improvements by using the information to take action. Dr. Huang’s work is part of state-directed efforts to improve diversity in the construction workforce. Learn more about the Respectful Workplace Climate Scale.
- The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Center for Healthy Workkicks off a new social media campaign on September 1. The effort, titled “Emergency Preparedness for All Workers,” honors National Preparedness Month, held in September. The campaign will focus on protecting vulnerable workers during emergencies, particularly from workplace violence. The campaign will provide information and tips for workers, communities, and employers. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
- The Utah Center for Promotion of Work Equity Research (U-POWER) recently awarded three pilot projects examining elements of TWH strategies and work equity through different disciplinary lenses (economics, geography, and sociology). U-POWER is looking forward to launching the first track of their TWH clearinghouse in the fall. The clearinghouse will collate resources from the TWH Centers and elsewhere for different audiences. The first track is being developed for employers and will include an introduction to TWH, TWH tools and programs, workplace wellness, mental health, and other key areas of interest.
These are just a few of the updates from the NIOSH Centers of Excellence for TWH. To learn more about each of the Centers, visit their websites.
Welcoming a New Affiliate
The NIOSH TWH Program welcomes a new affiliate, The Giovanni Lorenzini Medical Foundation. The foundation is a global organization consisting of two nonprofit scientific institutions located in New York City and Milan, Italy. The foundation has a rich history of translating evidence-based knowledge. They are committed to promoting a proactive model of well-being and disease prevention for the betterment of individuals and society as a whole.
For more than five decades, the Giovanni Lorenzini Foundation has been involved in service. They have developed and implemented congresses, workshops, courses, scientific, political, and economic panels, publications, and position papers. They’ve also been involved in educational campaigns on public health at national and international levels. Their goal is to shift from the reactive healthcare approach of the past to a proactive approach in the 21st century and beyond. By fostering integrated wellness, they aim to empower individuals, medical and scientific communities, government institutions, and society at large with improved health literacy. Learn more on the NIOSH TWH Affiliate Program webpage.
This feature was created to introduce our readers to current NIOSH TWH Affiliates. See how the NIOSH TWH Affiliates responded when we asked about their work.
MassCOSH unites workers, unions, and community groups with environmental and health activists to end dangerous work conditions; organize for safe, secure jobs; and advocate for healthy communities.
MassCOSH focuses on workers who are under-represented and often in harm’s way. These include immigrants, youth, low-wage earners, workers of color, emergency response, and hazardous waste workers. We also serve families of fallen workers. In addition to workplace health and safety, MassCOSH addresses wage theft, discrimination, and other abusive workplace conditions.
SAIF is a nonprofit workers’ compensation insurance company for Oregon. We protect Oregon employers and workers with exceptional, affordable coverage. We have a team of more than 60 safety and health professionals throughout Oregon who help policyholders create effective workplace safety cultures.
We evaluate work practices and the impact on employees, including everything from pandemic health and safety to productivity issues. We have flexible work policies and hybrid work schedules. We assess and provide ergonomic equipment at home and at the office and consider how remote, hybrid, and office employees’ experiences differ. We provide social opportunities through affinity groups, and team-, division-, and company-wide gatherings.
Our benefits are designed to fit all employees: remote-only, hybrid, and in-office. We offer virtual and in-person fitness and wellness options, including our popular virtual fitness classes. The new mental health support platform includes multiple modalities. The platform has an on-demand learning library, coaching, and video or online therapy offering a blended approach depending on employee preference and need.
Our safety and health consultants use the TWH approach as a key strategy when working with policyholders to improve their safety and health culture. We have a TWH resource team made up of consultants and staff, including return-to-work, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and external partners. The team meets regularly to set priorities and develop and review resources with key initiatives that include TWH elements. For example, in 2023, we are providing Question, Persuade, Refer suicide prevention training to policyholders as part of our construction industry initiative.
We became an affiliate in 2016. We wanted to be in alignment with our vision to make Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work. We also aimed to strengthen partnerships with our regional TWH Center of Excellence, the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center.
We are most proud of being a founding member of the Oregon TWH Alliance with the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and Oregon OSHA. The alliance allows us to extend our regional and national reach as a research, practice, and regulatory partnership.
We have found that interaction with the larger TWH community, particularly other affiliates, NIOSH, and the Centers of Excellence, has allowed us to connect around leading thought and practice. Our affiliate status has become a guiding principle that informs values and strategy, especially as we focus on improving the employee experience.
From CDC and NIOSH
From Our Partners
- A Protocol to Assess Contextual Factors During Program Impact Evaluation: A Case Study of a STEM Gender Equity Intervention in Higher Education
- Can Better Leadership Reduce Nursing Home Staff Turnover?
- Effectiveness of Worksite Wellness Programs Based on Physical Activity to Improve Workers’ Health and Productivity: A Systematic Review
- Exploring University and Healthcare Workers’ Physical Activity, Diet, and Well-being During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Occupational Safety and Health Equity Impacts of Artificial Intelligence: A Scoping Review
- Protecting Workers in the Temporary Staffing Industry
- The Relationship Between Stress and Sleep Sufficiency in the Context of Varied Workplace Social Support
- Treating People Fairly: The Feeling That Underlies the Trends
- Volunteering and Changes in Cardiovascular Biomarkers: Longitudinal Evidence From the Health and Retirement Study
- Workplace Violence: A Policy Brief and Case Study
- Workplace Violence and the Importance of Policies
21 – CPH-NEW will host a webinar, Total Worker Health® Trends Expert Webinar Series: No One Whistles a Symphony: How to Integrate Safety with Operations Management, at 12 p.m. (ET).
26–29 – Dr. Leslie Hammer from the OHWC will present at the 2023 HERO Forum, Doing Well by Doing Good: How Responsible Organizations Are Addressing Societal Challenges.
1–4 – The Healthier Workforce Center will present “Addressing Mental Health at the Supervisor Level“ at the 69th Annual Employee Benefits Conference, being held in Boston, Massachusetts.
8–11 – Work, Stress and Health 2023: Find several presentations from NIOSH and our partners during this virtual conference.
8–12 – Staff from the Center for Work, Health, & Well-being will present at the Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting.
27–30 – Staff from the Center for Work, Health, & Well-being will present at The 23rd World Congress on Safety and Health at Work.
Total Worker Health® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, citations to websites external to NIOSH do not constitute NIOSH endorsement of the sponsoring organizations or their programs or products. Furthermore, NIOSH is not responsible for the content of these websites. All web addresses referenced in this document were accessible as of the publication date.