The Health Profile of Australian Employees study has been analysing mental and physical health trends of Australian workers each year from 2004 to 2014. The study examined up to 7363 workers over a five to ten year period and the most recent findings were released earlier this month.
Some of the more startling mental health findings showed that 16-24 year olds are the most psychologically distressed age group and young women were most at risk of poor mental health with 45.5 per cent of females compared to 37 per cent of males reporting moderate to high levels of psychological distress.
When it comes to the physical findings, the results are equally grim. About one in ten (12%) workers had high blood pressure and nearly a quarter (23.8%) had high cholesterol. More than half of Australian workers were overweight or obese and half were physically inactive.
More and more organisations are looking at the link between employee health and productivity and adopting workplace programs that support healthy diet, regular exercise, social connectedness and healthy lifestyles. Mental and physical health is fundamentally linked. Those who eat well and exercise are generally healthier and probably going to have less time off work. They also have more energy to contribute while at work. Taking a holistic approach to the care of employees and considering both physical and mental health together, can make a big difference to their overall well-being, quality of life, job satisfaction and productivity.
Workplace health and wellness programs need to be part of the overall company strategy for a healthy workplace. Engagement, motivation, support and strategy are the keys to a successful workplace program.
Here are some tips to ensure your workplace has a holistic approach to workplace wellbeing and takes into account both the mental and physical factors when considering employees welfare;
1. Educate workers
A high level of awareness of both physical and mental health is essential and needs to be promoted from the top down. Employees need to be made aware of the benefits of being mentally and physically healthy and advised of simple ways in which they can achieve this.
2. Respectful workplace culture
A respectful workplace culture is one which is healthy, safe, supportive and values diversity. It is a place where employees feel valued and conflict is addressed in a positive way. People need to feel comfortable in their work environment and feel part of a community that respects and supports them.
3. Take part in health events
There are numerous national and international health related events designed to help create awareness and promote wellbeing in the workplace. Mental Health Awareness Month in October is one of the largest but there is also R U Ok? Day, Walk to Work Day, Go Home On Time Day, Men’s Health Week and many others. Taking part in these events will help raise awareness and reduce the stigma within your organisation.
4. Provide preventative health services
Providing employees with regular health checks, mental health awareness training, resilience building training and promoting regular exercise to employees, will help build a healthy workforce.
5. Introduce a wellbeing program
With the benefits of exercise well documented and numerous studies showing the advantages to employers, a wellbeing program will go a long way to ensuring your employees are fit, healthy and productive.
Now is the perfect time to review your organisation’s health and wellness strategies and consider introducing a program that will help both employees and the organisation.
For more information on implementing a health and wellness strategy, contact your AccessEAP manager.