The Randstad Workmonitor survey showed that 21% of Australian workers don’t feel like they have enough energy to come to work each day, while 62% of employees noticed that the quality of their work improved when they exercised regularly.
While 93% of workers believed maintaining a healthy lifestyle was their own prerogative, employment analyst Steve Shepherd said more organisations were looking at the link between health and issues like absenteeism and encouraging workplace programs that support healthy eating and exercise.
The challenge businesses faced was in balancing the potential risk of workers being injured while doing team-based sports that were seen to be sponsored by the company, with the potential benefits of having fitter employees.
“I think organisations are trying to figure out how to balance the risk associated with a group of employees on company time engaging in sports activity where they might sustain an injury – what the risk of that is to the company, versus the value of encouraging a healthy lifestyle and the positive impact that has, not only on the health and wellbeing of the staff, but also the effect on staff turnover and absenteeism levels.”
He said more offices offered shower facilities for employees who wanted to exercise during their breaks and 59% of workers surveyed said that their employer actively supported a healthy lifestyle.
However, 68% of employees were not allowed to play in a sports team during office hours due to the risk of sustaining an injury during work hours and only 32% said that their employer subsidised gym or fitness group memberships.
But according to the Australian website lifeinsurancefinder.com.au, time off work for sports injuries is a growing problem.
“Sports injury is causing greater concern than just spending time on the sidelines. Being inactive is making it impossible for many people to carry out their jobs,” said the website’s money expert Michelle Hutchison.
“The knock-on effect of this is less productivity and individuals having to cough up thousands of dollars to cover costs such as loss of income and medical bills.”
According to the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention, about one million people are injured playing sport or undertaking recreational activities each year.
However, Shepherd said that from a HR perspective, implementing health and wellbeing programs in the workplace had clear benefits.
“If you eat well and you exercise, you're generally healthier, so you're probably going to have less time off work and you're going to have more energy to contribute while you're at work, so there are productivity benefits on both sides of the coin.
“I think more and more companies are seeing it as something they can add value to, particularly from that absenteeism perspective, which is a huge cost to businesses every year, so if we can encourage people to be healthier and have a better lifestyle, they're going to be at work longer.”
Do you think company-sponsored sport is worth the potential injury risk?
The link between good health and increased workplace productivity is an established one, but it seems that not all employees take a healthy lifestyle seriously.