There are many health issues that can affect productivity in the workplace. Decreased productivity can have a drastic effect on an organization in many ways. This report will address common health issues in the workplace and identify strategies in order to mitigate the problem
The occurrence of obesity is increasing rapidly. In 2012 an astounding 64% of the Australian population was classified as being overweight or obese in persons over the age of 18 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013). Obesity is one of the main causes of presenteeism causing significant regression in work performance and costing organizations an estimated $6.4 billion per year.
Addressing inactivity and weight issues
Providing an ongoing health care and wellness program focusing on healthy eating and weight management.
Provide healthy food and beverage options in workplace cafeterias and vending machines.
Encouraging a fun workplace pedometer challenge where each staff member will compete to reach 10,000 steps per day.
Implementing a wellness program is a tremendous way to approach obesity within the workplace as Occupational Health Specialists will work with you and your staff by educating and emphasizing the significance of healthy living. Wellness programs are available as single sessions or ongoing programs, however the more comprehensive and thorough the program, the greater the opportunity to achieve the desired outcomes. Although a comprehensive program may be more costly compared to an advanced, intermediate or basic program, the benefits significantly improve the overall health, wellbeing and happiness of the workplace as employees are engaged with an extensive variety of topics and may include a range of entertaining hands on activities.
Developing a healthy workplace catering policy and providing healthy food choices for employees may guide staff to maintain a healthier weight, avoid long term disease and increase productivity and morale. Although this may be an attentive approach, it is not necessarily practical as several issues must be examined before implementation such as food allergies; mild reactions may cause increased absenteeism while a more severe reaction could potentially be fatal. Exhausted costs on food that has not been eaten and lack of participation from staff who may wish to provide their own less healthy meals.
Stress, Depression and anxiety
Although employment is ordinarily associated with heightened mental health, certain workplace environments and occupational roles may present a risk for stress, depression and anxiety. Approximately 45% of Australians will experience a mental illness at some point throughout their working life (Beyond Blue, 2014a) The Australian Human Rights Commission states that stress-related workers’ compensation claims have doubled in recent years, costing employers over $10 billion each year (Human Rights Commission, 2010a). Most employees manage their illness without it impacting on their work at all. Some may require temporary workplace support, while some may require ongoing workplace strategies (Beyond Blue, 2014b).
Addressing stress, depression and anxiety
Research stress and mental illness to gain empathy and management strategies; discuss appropriate workplace adjustments with the employee.
Implement an appropriate wellness program that includes onsite counselling and coping strategies
Evaluate the work and workplace characteristics to identify whether it is a healthy and safe work environment or one that may contribute to poor mental health
Unfortunately, there is no single approach to helping someone with a mental illness. You can however, take the time to talk to the employee/s that are struggling with stress, depression, anxiety, or other issues to offer your support. By discussing and implementing appropriate workplace adjustments you will enable your workers to achieve their tasks more effectively while providing a supportive