A study commissioned by Medibank Private recruited 3,620 employees from corporate (74%) and small business (26%) Australia. Each employee completed an online assessment covering eight key areas that measure health and well-being, including: physical activity nutrition body weight stress risk behaviour (smoking, drinking, irregular use of sun-block) sleep pain medical health. Each employee was given a score from 0 –100 based on their response for each of the areas above as well as for other indicators of health and well-being including job satisfaction, mood, life stressors and perception of overall health. The results were used to calculate an overall health and well-being (HWB) score to report on the employee’s health. Employees with HWB scores below 30 are classified as having poor health behaviours. Employees who scored within 70 –100 are classified as haThe survey revealed surprising information about the health profile of Australian employees.
Almost half (45%) of the employees surveyed have a HWB score between 0-30, and a further 26% have a score of between 30-50. (In other words DYING TO GO TO WORK)
A summary of the research findings is outlined below.
Australian employees don’t exercise enough
- 10% of the Australian workers surveyed are completely inactive,
- 40% engage in only minimal exercise, and another
- 12% do less than one hour of physical activity per week.
This is significantly less than the amount recommended by the Australian National Activity Guidelines, which recommends adults do at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity on most days.
Australian employees are overweight and eat poorly
- Almost half (46%) of the Australian workers surveyed live on high fat diets.
- Only 8% eat five or more serves of fruit and vegetables per day – the amount recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
- 62% of the Australian workers surveyed are overweight
- 28% are clinically obese
- 34% overweight as defined by the World Health Organisation.
More than half of the Australian workforce is stressed to a toxic level
- 53% of the Australian workers surveyed feel over-whelmed with stress and pressure a significant proportion of the time. Stress related claims cost Australian business over $200 million annually.
- 56% of the Australians surveyed are in the medium to high-risk area in participating in risk behaviours. Risk behaviours include smoking, drinking and irregular use of sunblock.
- 21% of respondents smoke daily,
- 12% consume 15 or more standard drinks weekly
- only 7% always apply sunblock when outside.
More than half of the Australian workers surveyed don’t get enough sleep
- 56% of the employees surveyed get less than seven hours sleep per night with
- 22% reporting feeling un-refreshed or exhausted during work, putting them at increased risk of road and work accidents.
The average adult should have between seven and ten hours of good quality sleep per night.
- 21% of the Australian employees surveyed experienced a medical condition in the three months preceding the survey
This includes back and neck pain (29%), hay fever (22%), heart disease (21%), migraine headaches (14%) and asthma (13%).
12% of those surveyed reported that they were suffering from depression.
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The Medibank Private survey found that Australian employees with poor health behaviours have up to nine times the annual sickness absence of healthy individuals (18 days compared to two days per year)
Considers the extent to which employees are productive and engaged in their work. The study also examined how health status relates to self-assessed work performance (on a scale of 0-10) for this group of working Australians. The results show a clear association between performance at work and overall health status. Workers with a high HWB score rated their work performance much higher. In fact, there is a two fold better work performance for the most healthy individuals compared to the least healthy.
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Effective working hours
Self-rated job performance was also used to calculate the duration of effective working hours a full-time employee performs during a month. The results show a clear link between a worker’s health and productivity with the healthiest employees nearly three times more effective than the least healthy. A worker with a high HWB score worked approximately 143 effective hours compared to 49 effective hours worked per month for a worker with a low HWB score.
20% reduction in a person’s well-being leads to a 10% drop in their performance. Conversely, a 20% improvement in morale leads to a reduction in absenteeism, turnover and workers compensation
A literature review by Monash University, commissioned by Medibank Private, examined the role of workplace health on work performance. A review of literature from more than 152 studies worldwide was consistent with the findings of the Australian online survey – that health impacts upon productivity at work. For example, a Canadian study examining the link between an employee’s emotional well-being and their work productivity found that a 20% reduction in a person’s well-being leads to a 10% drop in their performance. Conversely, a 20% improvement in morale leads to a reduction in absenteeism, turnover and workers compensation