Australian employers racing to develop top healthcare initiatives

by Chloe Taylor25 Jun 2015
International healthcare group Bupa launched a benchmarking report yesterday which has outlined the health of the Australian workforce.

Bupa’s 2015 Workplace Health in Australia report found that Australian organisations are investing more in their employees’ health and wellbeing.

The report suggests that within the next two years, the Australian workforce will see a significant shift in organisations dedicating more staff and financial resources to promote healthier workforces and drive productivity gains.

Researchers from Sydney University’s Business School analysed the survey’s findings, which included responses from 150 employers from organisations of various sizes.

While companies have increasingly introduced health policies such as tobacco control and flu vaccinations in recent years, employers indicated to Bupa’s researchers that the focus on employees’ mental wellbeing, healthy eating habits and sleep management will grow in coming years.

This will likely be achieved in part by harnessing technology to increase the scale, accessibility and affordability of workplace health programs – a quarter of Australian organisations are planning on introducing behavioural risk assessments such as online tools, which would be designed to assess risk factors such as smoking and physical activity.

According to Dr Rob Grenfell, national medical director at Bupa Australia, investing in workplace heath is not only good for business, but would be beneficial for communities.

“Businesses invest millions each year upgrading and maintaining hardware and machinery, however organisations are realising they need to invest in promoting the health and wellbeing of their most important asset – their people,” he said. “Not only are healthier employees more present at work, more productive and more likely to experience work satisfaction, they share their healthy habits with family and friends at home.

“Smart businesses recognise workplace health is a win-win situation, and that they can make an enormous contribution towards tackling some of our greatest health challenges through effective workplace health strategies.”

It was also found that workplaces’ use of risk assessment tools specifically created to detect mental health risks and requirements are expected to double over the next two years.

Programs encouraging staff to focus on musculoskeletal health – such as completing stretches at work – are also expected to see significant growth over the next two years.

Researchers also found that one in five workplaces is planning to introduce support for healthier sleeping habits in the near future. 

A quarter of employers also said they already extended health initiatives to workers’ family members.

“This contribution extends beyond risk awareness. The prevalence of chronic health conditions means organisations also need to support employees from the point of diagnosis,” Grenfell added. “Encouragingly, the report indicates that employers will be adapting strategies to address this need in the near future.”


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