Is there such a thing?
This year it seems that the flu virus has been worse than ever and staff absenteeism is on the rise. Every year hundreds of millions of dollars are lost by Australian companies as a result of the loss of productivity due to sickness and illness. According to an article on the Austratlian Financial Review, national health studies showed the flu alone accounted for about 10 per cent of all workplace absenteeism costing more than $2 billion a year.
This year, we have seen an additional 70,000+ workers off sick, costing businesses $30 million per day.
This is not unique to Australia, business and companies throughout the world are looking for ways to reduce illness and foster a healthier and more productive workplace.
The benefit of having healthy and active employees
Research by the University of Queensland suggests that people who exercise regularly experience better physical health, prone to less illness and experience a positive effect on their mental health. In a time when stress and depression is on the increase, crucial for employers to look for ways that can increase employee physical activity, boost confidence and encourage an overall positive outlook to life.
The return on investment from improved mental health alone can be as high as 15X with smaller organisations benefiting more than larger organisations. Healthier employees suffered lower risks of long term illnesses like heart failure, cancer and diabetes and displayed improved morale, reduced absenteeism and lower turnover rates.
What we are doing? (And you can too!)
Some larger organisations like Apple, Microsoft and Google spend millions every year on programs to encourage a healthier lifestyle for their employees. Gym membership, massage, healthy snacks, flu shots and access to wellness centres are just some of the benefits provided to their employees. Of course, most smaller companies don’t have the budget of these global giants. However, it is not difficult to make a start and build from there.
Employees need to be encouraged not coerced into making changes. We recently replaced the sweet biscuits in our office with fresh fruit, introduced free flu shots and are just about to launch a 10-week fitness challenge which has at its core a healthy diet and exercise program. There is both a fun and serious side to the program which offers team building activities as well as the opportunity to have a full body scan and understand more about your body, healthy foods and nutrition.
Everyone wins from this positive initiative. I encourage you to consider this for your business.