SPONSORED CONTENT | Taking a proactive approach to managing your employees’ physical and mental health can work wonders for productivity, staff engagement and the bottom line. AIA Australia explores further.

A growing body of research on corporate wellness indicates that proactive management of employees’ physical and mental health can produce a range of business benefits – including a reduction in absence and staff turnover, plus greater staff engagement and productivity.

Australia’s Healthiest Workplace is an annual study which aims to better understand the interaction between employees’ lifestyle choices, general health, and business critical outcomes such as engagement and productivity.

36 organisations participated in the study this year, representing a combined workforce of 2,910 employees across the country.

We explore some of this year’s findings, including a snapshot of the issues Australian employers and employees face and how organisations can improve the health and wellbeing of their staff.

Work-related stress

Work-related stress represents a significant problem internationally, and can affect organisational performance, including absenteeism, presenteeism, productivity and turnover. In this year’s study:

  • 53% of the analysed employees expressed that they are subject to at least one dimension of work-related stress.
  • 10% of employees were subject to bullying at the workplace, 2% of which indicated that they were bullied often or always.
  • 24% of respondents in Australia don’t feel that they have control over their role at work.
  • 15% say their work relationships are strained and 7% don’t feel supported by their manager.

Musculoskeletal problems

Work intensification and reorganisation, often coupled with technological change, has also contributed to an increased incidence of musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders and mental ill-health.

MSK problems are very common, and many forms may arise through contemporary forms of office work. 84% of analysed employees reported symptoms of one or more musculoskeletal conditions, with the most common area impacted being the neck and shoulders.

Lack of sleep

Long working hours, increasing out-of-hours connectivity and work-related stress are all factors associated with sleep problems in workers. Poor sleep quality is associated with impairments at work, such as reduced concentration and difficulties with organising work.

27% of employees surveyed reported getting less than 7 hours sleep in a 24-hour period, which is the optimal level from both a health and productivity perspective.

Making a difference

In Australia, health-related absence and presenteeism costs businesses on average 52 productive days per employee each year, equating to a loss of approximately $11 million on average per employer. And while it’s impossible to eliminate the cost entirely, it is possible to reduce the figure by making a concerted effort to keep employee health and wellbeing, and corporate wellness top of mind.

Australia’s Healthiest Workplace is a free benchmarking tool for employers to use to do just this. It provides organisations with insights about the health and wellbeing of their employees and their workplace as a whole – detail which they wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise. They can then implement change, monitor progress and compare the results year-on-year.

Whether it’s ensuring senior executives take an active interest in monitoring health, offering flexible working arrangements or simply raising awareness of corporate wellness initiatives, a little effort goes a long way. Even small ongoing investment in the wellbeing of employees can pay big dividends for the business and help to improve the bottom line.

To view the full results from Australia’s Healthiest Workplace 2018, or to register your workplace for 2019 visit healthiestworkplace.aia.com/australia/eng/

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