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Fit workers, fat profits

There is significant evidence to suggest a healthy workforce can improve business performance.

Fit workers, fat profits
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  • mbrownlee
  • June 23, 2016
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According to Australian government agency Comcare, there are a number reasons to invest in programs to enhance worker health and wellbeing: “Put simply: healthy workers = healthy organisations = healthy business performance.”

Comcare says research on the relationship between health and productivity finds healthy workers are more productive at work than unhealthy workers.

“Healthy workers rate their work performance as much higher than unhealthy workers and have far fewer short-term absences than unhealthy workers,” the agency says in a special report entitled Benefits To Business: The Evidence For Investing In Worker Health And Wellbeing.

“When an Australian study considered the combined effects of self-rated work performance and absenteeism data, they found that the healthiest employees are almost three times more effective than the least healthy, with the healthiest employees working approximately 143 effective hours per month compared to 49 effective hours per month by the least healthy.”

And if that’s not enough, Comcare says healthy employees are more engaged too.

“[The] roll-out of [health and wellbeing] programs has the potential to improve workplace culture as well as workplace health by developing a closer congruence between employer and employee values – increasing the satisfaction level of employees.”

Mischa Weissenberg, a workplace wellbeing specialist at Holistic Services Group, says there is a lot that businesses – even small operations, such as suburban accounting firms – can do to improve the health of employees.

“While each organisation will have different objectives for their wellness programs, common activities for the workplace can include seated massage; health classes like yoga, fitness or pilates; meditation sessions and workshops on stress management or mindfulness; workshops on nutrition, healthy eating, work/life balance and leadership development,” she says.

Every organisation is different, and so is each employee, but Ms Weissenberg says that is not a problem.

“Most professional and experienced facilitators will be able to handle a group with a variety of skill or fitness levels. So a fitness class instructor would normally be able to design a session that challenges everyone, if the age gap is known in advance.”

She adds: “But if it’s a major concern, I would suggest holding activities that are suitable for everyone. For physical health, two examples would be a nutrition seminar and a workshop on better sleep quality.”

“For mental health, try a meditation class or a resiliency workshop. For team building, try a Laughter Yoga workshop or a team cooking challenge,” Ms Weissenberg suggests.

Excellent return on investment

There is a wealth of emerging evidence indicating that successful health and wellbeing programs provide an excellent return on investment. They can:



  • decrease sick leave absenteeism by 25.3 per cent;



  • decrease worker compensation costs by 40.7 per cent;



  • decrease disability management costs by 24.2 per cent; and



  • save $5.81 for every $1 invested in employee health and wellbeing.



Source: Comcare, Benefits To Business: The Evidence For Investing In Worker Health And Wellbeing

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