How your workplace can help improve your health

Some easy tips to help improve workplace wellbeing.

Bupa has just released its results from a survey of 5,000 Australian employees and 200 employers. The key findings? Almost two in five employees surveyed say their job has a negative effect on their physical health, and one in three say their workplace offers no health support.

“Workplaces are a key opportunity to influence people in their daily lives and support them,” explains Dr Fiona Adshead, Bupa’s director of Wellbeing and Public Health.

Bupa has worked with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to publish the report Cancer: It’s Everyone’s Business, which highlights the important role companies can play in cancer prevention. “Cancer not only deprives families of loved ones but also deprives businesses of valuable employees,” says Cary Adams, the CEO of the Union for International Cancer Control.

“But the good news is that employee wellbeing programs and health education initiatives can reduce people’s risk of developing cancer, as well as keeping them active and contributing as members of the workforce for longer.”

Here, Dr Adshead shares her top tips for helping to improve employee health. 

1. Be flexible

Healthy workplace programs do not have to mean sacrificing time on the job – often employees just need flexibility in their day to fit in a workout at a time that suits. 

“The majority of people in the workplace give much more time than they are contracted to do,” Dr Adshead says. “Sometimes it’s not so much about them trying to detract from that, but just wanting flexibility so that if they want to do exercise at lunchtime they can.”

2. Walk the talk

Despite 87 per cent of employers surveyed believing healthy employees are more productive, a third said their organisation did not have an employee health and wellness program in place.

“Sometimes there is a mismatch between what people feel their employers are doing and their own experience,” Dr Adshead says.

3. Make fitness fun

Organising group events, such as daily walking targets or company team sports can be a good strategy for getting employees involved. 

“Sharing goals can help motivate people,” Dr Adshead says.

"Sharing goals can help motivate people."

4. Stress less about the cost

More than 35 per cent of employers surveyed said they believed implementing health and wellbeing initiatives would be too expensive, but Dr Adshead insists this doesn’t have to be the case.

“There are lots of ways it can be done without costing a huge amount,” she says. “Simply encouraging people to go for a walk at lunchtime and use the stairs instead of the lift are not hugely expensive things for employers to do but can make a big difference to people’s activity levels.”

5. Reap the rewards

Not only could your team feel more positive as they’re fitter, have higher energy levels and are helping to reduce their risks of cancer, but they’ll probably work better too.

Employee wellbeing programs can benefit both the business and its employees. “If people are fit and healthy and taking care of themselves, they’re likely to be more productive at work,” Dr Adshead says. “High-performing employees lead to a high-performing business.”

For more information, see Bupa's Workplace Health Around the World report.

"If people are fit and healthy and taking care of themselves, they’re likely to be more productive at work."

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