Updated: Oct 6, 2020
There is no question of the importance of preventative health measures. With people spending a large chunk of their waking hours at work, it is important to highlight that workplaces play an important role in the health of its employees and are in a prime position to deliver health promoting programs and incentives.
The workplace can have a massive impact, both positive and negative on an individual’s health outcomes in terms of both mental and physical health. Workplace culture, work demands, long hours are amongst some of the factors that can negatively affect an individual’s health behaviours, health outcomes and ultimately work performance.
From a mental health perspective, statistics suggests up to 1 in 5 Australian adults may experience mental health issues in any given year. It is often presumed these issues develop outside of the workplace, however research has shown that work environment can exacerbate or contribute to the development of these issues, with work stress and other work-related psychosocial factors are thought to be one of the leading causes of occupational disease and injury. Many workers will successfully manage their mental health without any impact on their work, however others may require support either on a short or longer term basis.
In terms of physical health, work demands can lead to less healthy lifestyle choices such as poor diet, lack of exercise and lack of sleep in addition to an increase in risky behaviours such as smoking and alcohol consumption.
Increasing temptation to make poor lifestyle choices are often built into the corporate environment. Elaborate business dinners and drinks are seen as a prime opportunity for networking and business. Frequent travellers will have access to full buffet and bar at airline clubs. Frequent travellers will also be ‘rewarded’ with things such as free mini bar and drink specials. In those situations for the individual to make healthy choices it can be akin to trying to swim upstream.
The evidence clearly demonstrates increased success and competitiveness in businesses that promote workers’ health. We should all be asking ourselves, could we be doing more to support the physical and mental health of our employees?
Annie is a corporate well being expert who owns and operates All Round Wellness, a company that specialises in providing tailor made online coaching for busy professionals.