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Victoria Airport Authority

Initiative: Mental Health, Fitness, Healthy Eating and Relationships

Number of employees: 43

Goal(s) of the Initiative:

To bring awareness to the different areas of wellness and healthy lifestyles: mental health, healthy eating, healthy relationships, and physical health (one for each week of Healthy Workplace Month).

To involve family as part of the overall wellness program and support system.

To educate staff about the importance of taking time to enhance their personal wellness.

To be an innovative leader in promoting wellness and encouraging staff to take an interest in their personal wellness.

To follow Healthy Workplace Month Canada’s goals – educate, engage, empower, and evaluate:

  • Educate: Provide staff with the opportunity and the time to learn about healthy living in ways they might not otherwise know about.
  • Engage: To connect with staff throughout the month and encourage participation through feedback, competitions, and events that appeal to all types.
  • Empower: To provide staff members with improved knowledge and tools to lead a happier, healthier lifestyle.
  • Evaluate: To provide a variety of healthy activities, foods, and learning material. Staff were able to decide what interested them and choose what they wanted to be involved in. This allowed us to review participation levels in multiple areas and seek those areas of interest which will receive the most participation throughout the year. Each year we can make improvements.

What need was being addressed by this initiative?

To bring awareness to the importance of personal wellness and simplify it into four different elements: Mental Health, Healthy Eating, Healthy Relationships, and Physical Health.

Breaking down overall wellness into four elements created a different theme for each week of the month and allowed us to focus on particular elements we found to be important to healthy living. In turn, these themes determined the outline for each week.

We wanted to provide staff with many options throughout the month but didn’t want to bombard them with communications or confuse them with a schedule that didn’t follow any theme. Having a similar layout for each week enabled us to educate and involve people about four different topics without making the initiative seem overwhelming. Each week followed a common theme: one informative email, one motivational email that included a chosen TED Talk, an event, and a weekly participation prize. Staff members could anticipate a similar plan for each week, but with a different focus on health and wellness.

We also wanted staff members to self-assess their own lifestyles and encourage them to find an area of interest. It was important to us to increase awareness and highlight areas that may not have otherwise gained much attention. For example, a person might think leading a healthy lifestyle simply means eating well or exercising, but may not realise the importance of living with a low stress level and forming healthy relationships.

Throughout the month we encouraged staff to participate in many different healthy options. We also organized a large event that included staff members’ families and held a draw for grand prizes based on participation and themed around the month’s activities.

How was the initiative implemented:

VAA practices wellness initiatives throughout the year in multiple ways. October is dedicated to wellness and Healthy Workplace Month is spent providing staff with knowledge, tools, and multiple opportunities for involvement.

This year’s Healthy Workplace Month focused on four different elements of overall wellness for each week of the initiative. We used each ‘theme’ to teach staff about the importance of a particular area of health by having an event each week and providing communications (emails, posters, etc.) with information pertaining to the ‘theme.’

Our Month followed a layout as follows:

  • Monthly Initiatives
  • Recreation Centre Passes – Throughout the month staff were offered free passes to a range of different rec centres in Victoria and surrounding areas.
  • Participation Draws – Prize draws were held each week. Staff gained an entry every time they participated in an event or challenge.
  • Workout Thursdays – Staff were encouraged to send a photo of themselves exercising or participating in a healthy activity. This qualified for an entry into the Participation Draw and a Grand Prize Draw at the end of the month.
  • Recipe Guru – Each week staff members were encouraged to either send a photo of themselves cooking a healthy meal or to share a healthy recipe. The healthy recipes were then shared in our weekly staff emails to encourage healthy eating and cooking. Participation in Recipe Guru qualified for an entry into the Participation Draw and the month-end Grand Prize Draw.
  • Kick Off – Shortly before the Healthy Workplace Month started, the Victoria Airport Authority President and CEO sent a message to all staff explaining the importance of overall wellness and encouraging them to try new things and participate throughout the month. Included in his message was the Calendar of Events for Healthy Workplace Month 2016.

Week One
Mental Health, including relaxing reflexology clinic, distributed information about our employee family and assistance program and services, TED talk on motivation, a “Tangle” which is a stress relieving program, large baskets of items for staff to take from (includ pamphlets, magnets, and first aid kits from EFAP and an assortment of specifically-chosen therapeutic and relaxing herbal teas)

Week Two
Healthy Eating, including a cooking session with a certified nutritionist; email news releases on nutrition advice from our EFAP partner, coming events and ‘Recipe Guru’, and our staff kitchens provided samples of Kombucha Tea and a list of the different health benefits..

Week Three
Healthy Relationships
Victoria Royals Staff & Family Hockey Night event – a big success! Staff and their families were invited to attend a local hockey game together. The event provided staff and senior management with the opportunity outside of work to build on relationships and learn more about co-workers and their families.

Other events included a flu-shot clinic – “Spread the Love, Not the Bugs.” Emails on resources staff can access through EFAP i.e.,a link to related articles on the Shepell website such as “Equipping your Kids to Navigate Their Dating Years.” Our second communication encouraged challenges and events for staff to participate in and more healthy recipes shared by employees. VAA always provides nutritious snacks for staff in staff lunchrooms, but this week we upped our game. Healthy snacks were ordered and promoted including snackable fruits, vegetables, yogurt, nuts, and granola bars. In addition to our weekly Recipe Guru challenge (described below) we had a bonus prize for staff member’s children. This involved staff members sending in a photo of their children helping to prepare a healthy meal. We held a separate draw for two children to win.

Week Four
Fitness, including Zumba lessons, emails informing staff Health Coaching and Fitness Support and provided a link to online articles such as “Turn Back a Few Years and Feel More Alive” (EFAP). We also provided links to inspirational TED Talks. In our second communication we again encouraged participation and shared healthy recipes from staff.

In our lunchrooms we provided staff with platters of healthy salad roll varieties which created a lot of discussion and had many people trying this food for their first time.


In addition to our weekly participation draws, staff members were also entered into the Grand Prize Draws for each time they participated. Four staff members won a grand prize package – each grand prize reflected the themes of the month. Prizes included items such as board games, a vegetable spiralizer and cook book, a Fit Bit, spa items, an aromatherapy diffuser, exercise bands, protein powder and too many other items to list. Each grand prize was packaged in a travel suitcase.

Communication was a key component throughout the month and a joint email account served as the main communication channel to broadcast the Healthy Workplace Month 2016 ‘Calendar of Events’ to staff and senior management. Posters and other printed materials were showcased in staff lunchrooms to promote upcoming events.

A year overview of additional staff events hosted included: a weekend family bowling event and lunch, staff appreciation luncheons, Long Service Awards, community fundraising Initiatives (such as the VAA Hockey Pool, United Way ‘Chocolates Holiday’ Campaign and a Food-drive Challenge. Upcoming is the much-anticipated annual Christmas Party for staff and the Christmas Party for children and families.

How was the initiative evaluated:

The month began with a survey sent to all staff asking them to choose which events they would prefer to have during the month.

A participation tracker was created in a spreadsheet to easily monitor participation for each employee along with each department and location. Each event and challenge was listed and sorted by each week. All staff members were documented each time they participated in an event and challenge in order to be entered into the prize draws.

A VAA public folder was created so staff members could view pictures taken throughout the month and recipes that were shared by other staff members.

Administrators reviewed the month and examined the success of the events and challenges and which areas gained the most interest. Staff were also encouraged to share their input about the month.


We believe that in some way everyone at VAA participated, whether it was to try a new healthy snack, read an article on health, or be involved in a discussion related to Healthy Workplace Month. Everyone was exposed to and included in the month’s initiatives. Of the actual trackable events 79% participation was achieved throughout our VAA Healthy Workplace Month 2016.

Staff participation and interest was consistently high during the month. Staff members were given ample opportunities to be involved, and communication with all of the VAA staff was a priority throughout.

We believe through our communication, events, and competitions, our goal of bringing awareness to the importance of mental health, eating healthy, healthy relationships, and physical health was achieved.

What is the approximate cost per participant:


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