Health Links: Supporting businesses in strengthening families

October 28, 2020

The Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline awareness campaign (CO4Kids) set out to join other organizations in honoring October as National Work and Family Month by encouraging businesses to promote healthier and more flexible work environments.

Parents and caregivers, including foster, kinship and adoptive parents, need to be supported with smart business policies that help strengthen families, prevent abuse and neglect, and promote positive parenting so kids can achieve their potential. Family-friendly policies in the workplace can make a big difference in parents’ ability to raise their kids, succeed and contribute to Colorado’s future.

Health Links plays a role in strengthening families

Many employers focus on safety or health and well-being. Health Links focuses on the integration of the two. When it comes to promoting healthy, safe work, Health Links staff are science-led experts and mentors who use evidence-based strategies to help organizations improve workplace and health safety. CO4Kids met virtually with David Shapiro, Program Manager at Health Links to discuss the role that Health Links plays in strengthening Colorado families. In addition to helping organizations support Total Worker Health® - a holistic approach to worker well-being that enhances safety, health and productivity, Health Links practices what they preach by ensuring that they too are a Certified Healthy Workplace™.

Health Links is a research to practice program based in the Center for Health, Work and Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health. 

While October is observed as National Work and Family Month, David expressed how important it is that organizations consider prioritizing the health and safety of employees and their families every month. Every single day, businesses, both large and small, benefit from ensuring that their culture is one that promotes worker well-being that enhances safety, health and productivity.

When asked about work-life balance, David referred to the term as an unrealistic notion that leads people to believe that they need to do it all. In David’s experience as a stay-at-home dad and a working parent, he considers the perfect balance to be an unachievable goal.


“I prefer the term work-life integration over work-life balance as balance implies you’re going to have all aspects of your life—work, parenting, relationships, hobbies—perfectly and equally weighted and I don't know if that's ever possible.”

David Shapiro, Program Manager, Health Links


Becoming a Certified Healthy Workplace

Since Health Links inception in 2013, they have worked with 800+ employers that have taken the steps to become a Certified Healthy Workplace, impacting over 400,000 workers. Beginning with an assessment tool that benefits employers of all sizes and types, organizations have an opportunity to measure their progress in prioritizing employee health and safety. Health Links also offers a supplementary Family-Friendly Survey to inform future policies and practices. After completing the assessment, organizations receive an introductory consultation to receive more information about their current progress and later create a Healthy Workplace Action Plan to take the next step toward Total Worker Health with an advisor.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), recognized as a Certified Healthy Workplace, set a goal for themselves to lead by example. CDLE understands that part of its duty to the state is to be a model employer as they work with businesses and individuals to build a healthy thriving workforce and economy.

“Prioritizing employee health and safety is essential to any thriving business. It has the power to improve worker morale, reduce injuries, and reduce time off of work taken because of injuries or health-related issues,” says Miriam Evangelista, Premium Cost Containment Advisor for CDLE. “Enhancing workplace health and safety can also demonstrate how much you value your employees,” said Miriam.

What brings companies to Health Links?

According to David, many organizations want to be recognized as family-friendly workplaces but aren’t sure where to start. Oftentimes, the perception is that being family-friendly is expensive. Health Links believes that organizations that focus on the health and safety of their employees should be recognized. Health Links provides low-cost recommendations for becoming more family-friendly and reminds organizations that doing something to promote a healthy and safe work environment is better than doing nothing at all. For example, 16 weeks of paid parental leave is not the only way to work toward becoming a family-friendly workplace. Flexible work days, open-door communications, and flexibility in scheduling are also great, cost-effective ways to begin building a healthy and safe culture in the workplace.

There are many ways in which all Coloradans play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect. When businesses make genuine efforts to support their employees, they make a considerable impact on families and their communities. Family-friendly workplace policies and practices can help team members thrive at work and at home. By supporting the well-being of employees, organizations can build a culture of trust that results in increased productivity, job satisfaction, and a happier and healthier workforce. Access the family-friendly toolkit today to learn more about how to implement new programs at your workplace and improve health outcomes for all employees.

The Colorado Department of Human Services CO4Kids campaign encourages all Coloradans to strengthen families and communities. If you know of an organization or individual working to strengthen Colorado families and communities that would like to be highlighted, please reach out to Dianna Robinson.

To learn about the signs of child abuse and neglect and for information about how to become a foster or adoptive parent, visit Call 844-CO-4-Kids to report concerns about child abuse and neglect. If a child or teen is in immediate danger, dial 9-1-1.

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