The World Health Organization’s constitution defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’

If you work full-time, about half your waking hours are at work. If you own or run a business, it’s probably even more.

From a personal perspective, taking good care of your health and wellbeing can help you face life’s inevitable stressors and keep you feeling positive and well while you are at work or managing your business.

It also makes good sense to include health and wellbeing as a key part of running any successful business. Research has shown that healthy workers are almost 3 times more productive than unhealthy workers and record fewer injuries, sick days and work-related injury claims.

Everyone (workers, managers and PCBUs) is responsible for health and safety in the workforce. Health includes both physical and psychological health.

Any consideration of health and wellbeing should include the full range of potential risk factors, including:

Taking personal care

As a worker you must take reasonable care of your own safety, health and wellbeing as well as that of others around you.

Effective health and wellbeing promotion can be a shared responsibility between workers and PCBUs. The most effective programs are those where workers feel engaged in the process of identifying problems and developing and reviewing solutions.

If you are given or see an opportunity to help make improvements, provide input and contribute to paving the way to better health and wellbeing at your workplace.

Taking action at work

Work health and safety cultures are led from the top where a PCBU’s actions and attitudes send a message to the people who work for you that you are serious about their safety, health and wellbeing.

Effective work health promotion is also a shared responsibility between PCBUs and workers. The most effective programs follow the same steps as successful safety programs, so any efforts are best done as part of an integrated approach.

Improving workers’ health and wellbeing can positively impact on your business profitability, productivity and safety. Research tells us that every $1 spent creating a mentally healthy workplace can, on average, result in a positive return on investment of $2.30.

If you have a team of workers, you need to consider the costs of sick leave and replacing workers who are forced to leave due to health issues. The graphic below shows how implementing a successful workplace health program you can achieve significant cost savings, as well as:

  • decrease staff absenteeism/sick leave by an average of 30%
  • decrease staff turnover by an average of 10%.

Graphic looking at the savings on sick leave and replacement staff that can be made by implementing a workplace health program

Having a healthy workforce makes even more sense when you also consider that:

  • poor worker health and absenteeism costs Australian businesses $7 billion annually, or an estimated $2700 per worker
  • unhealthy workers take up to 9 times more sick leave than their healthy colleagues
  • not functioning fully while at work due to poor health (called presenteeism) costs Australian business an estimated $26 billion per year in lost productivity
  • obesity-related poor health costs South Australian businesses an estimated $273 million per year.


There are many resources available to help you develop health and wellbeing programs in your workplace or industry sector.

SafeWork SA is a SA Health Public Health Partner Authority.

Public Health Partner Authorities are agencies which:

  • contribute to key priority areas within the State Public Health Plan, and those emerging through regional public health planning
  • operate or impact at a state-wide or regional population level, and/or
  • are a key stakeholder for addressing significant public policy issues that impact on population level health and wellbeing.