Monday, January 25, 2010

Is your health costing your company money?

If you lack physical fitness, you are more likely to be costing your company money.
It is estimated that unhealthy employees are costing Australian businesses billions of dollars every year with inactive employees impact the business they work for in a cost negative way in terms of productivity, lost time at work and increased claims for sick days.

With scores of unhealthy, overweight or obese employees, many businesses are initiating workplace wellness programs to decrease the immense costs to their bottom line.

Employers have long recognized that a healthy employee cost less. With fewer sick days, increase in productivity, improved employee morale, a decrease in accidents, or just to be a healthier place to work in; the payback for the company comes in the form of dollar savings.

The Australian Governments Institute of Health and Welfare indicates that it has 8 priority health areas. They are Arthritis and Muscular skeletal conditions, Asthma, cancer control, Mental Health, Diabetes, Obesity, Injury prevention and control and Cardiovascular health. These 8 priority areas are in response to the World Health Organizations findings on Global health. It is interesting to note that many of these priority areas can be prevented with an increase in activity and improved nutrition and lifestyle.

Here are some sobering statistics on the cost of an unhealthy employee:
The cost of smoking to Australian Business each year is the negative impact on workforce labour. At $4517.4 million per year. This loss is due to the reduction in the workforce and the increased absenteeism. (Tobacco in Australia, an online resource. The cost of tobacco to Australian society)

At least 70% of all illnesses are due to lifestyle related causes and are attributed to medical costs that could be prevented. (The economic benefits of regular exercise IHRSA)

A fit employee has fewer sick days, has fewer accidents, is less prone to harmful effects of stress and has higher job satisfaction than unfit ones. (Neil Gallaiford. Another reason to go to work-Keeping fit and healthy in the workplace-Human Resource management)

More Australian adults were overweight or obese and more drank alcohol at risky or high risk levels in 2004-5 than in 2001, according to results from the 2004-05. (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

People who don’t exercise have shown to have 34% higher health care costs and 54% longer hospital stays. (Inside track, the executive Fitness)

The proportion of adults classified as overweight or obese increased over the last ten years: for men from 52% to 62% and for women from 37% to 45%. (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

High or very high levels of psychological distress were recorded for 13% of the adult population, similar to the levels recorded in 2001. Of all those who recorded high to very high levels of distress, 59% were female. (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

The two most frequently reported lifestyle risk factors among adults were inadequate fruit or vegetable intake (90%) and sedentary or low level exercise (70%), and the most common pattern was to report them both, without also reporting smoking or drinking at risky levels (44%). In comparison to those classified as normal or underweight, adults who were overweight or obese were slightly more likely to report in this way (43% and 44%).(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

A majority of adults (90%) did not consume the recommended amount of fruit (2 or more serves) or vegetables (5 or more serves). This proportion was similar regardless of body weight. (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

So, how do you and your workplace measure up?
1. What is the existing culture in your workplace in regards to initiating or supporting a healthier work environment?
2. Do you feel you are as productive as you could be at work?
3. What snack time or lunch time practices are encouraged in the workplace?
4. Are you and your fellow employees fitting in your daily required amount of physical activity?
5. What Health, fitness and well being goals do you have?
6. If you are a smoker, what access do you have to a smoking cessation program?
7. What one action can you take this week towards a healthier workplace?

Author: Chris Bakens of Healthy Executives.

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