Celebrate Healthy Workplace Month at CFB Esquimalt

Kateryna Bandura
Lookout Editor

In October, the Defence community marks Healthy Workplace Month, focusing on four health and well-being aspects.

Organized by Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC) Health and Wellness Strategy’s Organizational Wellness Working Group, the month’s activities aim to foster a healthy work environment, says Jessie Wyllie, Health Promotion Specialist at Personnel Support Programs (PSP).

“Creating a healthy workplace is so important right now, especially for the military,” she said. “People who feel like they are a part of a healthy and inclusive work environment are overall happier and less likely to experience burnout. Productivity increases, job satisfaction improves, and people genuinely want to engage and perform to a higher standard.”

Wyllie encourages individuals to make at least one change, big or small, to work to create a healthier workplace. These changes will become habits and carry on into long-term positive changes.

According to Wyllie, a healthy workplace is a safe space for people to come to work, prioritizes diversity and equity initiatives, encourages education and incorporates aspects of social, community, physical and mental well-being.

“Most people can get caught up on just physical aspects such as using standing desks or holding walking meetings, which are great and have their place for creating a healthier workplace, but are not the only ways. There are so many ways people can start to create a healthier workplace,” she said.

Healthy Workplace Month started with a focus on social well-being, which featured an opportunity for the community to have an informal morning coffee at the Admiral’s Residence. Visitors mingled with Rear-Admiral Christopher Robinson, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific, at the historic Dockyard residence while enjoying coffee and refreshments provided by the messes.

“A social event with the Admiral showed that senior leadership understands and values the importance of creating a healthy work environment and wants everyone to feel welcomed and included in this space,” Wyllie said.

Week two activities started with community well-being, which involved cleaning the harbour and shorelines. As a Navy base, the ocean is a massive part of the physical work environment, Wyllie said.

“Whether people are out sailing, conducting maintenance, or on dive training, we need a clean and healthy harbour to do our work to the best of our abilities,” she said.

Week three activities bring attention to mental well-being. During the lunch hour breaks on Oct 17-19, trained Health Promotion staff are offering lessons about mindfulness, meditation and yoga at the Naden Athletic Centre. The PSP Health Promotion team will help people try out different activities that can help improve their mental well-being.

“There are so many different options that we hear about that are beneficial for mental health that it can be a little overwhelming sometimes,” Wyllie said. “These classes will provide a better understanding of how to identify when we are struggling and when we need to prioritize our own well-being.”

October’s final week will be all about getting the body moving. Among many opportunities to be active, Wyllie listed various fitness classes available at both Naden and Dockyard Gyms, the Go-By-Bike Week marked on Oct. 25, which promotes active transportation to work, and the National Sports Day on Oct. 26, where members can try out for various sporting activities at the Naden Athletic Centre. The week ends with the monthly Formation Run on Friday, Oct. 27.

“Creating any type of change takes time and helping people understand there is more to a healthy workplace than just focusing on physical well-being can be a new way of thinking in some cases,” she said. “This is an annual campaign so we will continue to find ways to highlight healthy workplaces every October.”

The Organizational Wellness Working Group aims to deliver on several initiatives each year. The group’s priorities for this year include assisting the chaplaincy with converting the Naden chapel into a more inclusive multi-faith/community practice space and collaborating with the Defence Advisory Groups to provide support for all commemorative events. The group also looks to find ways to collaborate with the Naval Reserve.


How you can create a healthier workplace:

  • Encourage members to take part in Positive Space Ambassador training or join one of the Defence Advisory Groups (DAGs)’
  • Create a gratitude tree for the workspace where members can post things they are grateful for throughout the week;
  • Have your unit join in the monthly Formation Run / Walk to get everyone active and socializing;
  • Bring a packed lunch from home instead of eating out;
  • Check in with your coworkers and genuinely ask how they are doing;
  • Have a unit step challenge;
  • Organize a food/toy drive within a unit; and
  • Organize workplace social events that centre around other activities than alcohol.

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