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UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 9 | Oct. 7, 2004

Growing Healthy at Work

Unique symposium will explore the connection between workplace and personal health

By Hilary Thomson

Workplace bullies, humour and health, and the role of the manager are among the topics to be explored at UBC’s second annual health symposium.

Called Cultivating Healthy Change, the free symposium will take place Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

UBC is the only Canadian university to offer such a day-long symposium supported by the organization and open to all employees, according to Deb Jones, a national consultant on healthy organizations, who has interviewed health promotion personnel at University of Victoria, University of Toronto and University of Calgary.

“There is a great interest in workplace health at all these universities, however, none have developed anything like UBC’s annual symposium,” says Jones.

Gerry Latham, manager of UBC’s Health Promotion Program, says the understanding of organizational health and its relationship to personal health has risen tremendously on campus since last year’s symposium.

“We know the pace of change is determined by employees themselves so this year we’re emphasizing not only how individuals can make a change for themselves but also how they can lead a change toward a healthy workplace,” says Latham.

Open to all UBC faculty and staff, the symposium includes two featured speakers. Linda Duxbury, of the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, will talk about her study of 10,000 Canadian employees and their views on work-life balance and conflict, including factors that make balance difficult and suggestions for coping. Canada’s Man-in-Motion Rick Hansen will talk about the power of setting life goals, achieving balance and dreaming big dreams.

“The focus continues to be on both the individual as well as the organization and this year we want to address some deeper issues,” says event co-ordinator Dana Mahon, of the Dept. of Health, Safety and the Environment, which is presenting the symposium.

The day will feature six breakout sessions that cover topics ranging from managerial skills needed for a healthy workplace, to depression, building personal resilience to change, the value of laughter and yoga.

A health fair will take place during the event in the concourse of the Chan Centre and will feature interactive exhibitions such as blood pressure, blood glucose, bone density and blood cholesterol testing, as well as information booths on health-care providers, fitness professionals and health and wellness resources.

“UBC senior administrators have made it clear that they’re serious about creating a culture shift that will enable and reinforce employees’ efforts to maintain a work-life balance,” says Latham. “We want to give employees the right tools to help build a healthy workplace and to take responsibility for their own health once they leave work.”

For more information on the symposium, visit www.hse.ubc.ca/health-symposium.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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