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Invest in employee health and wellbeing

Workplace health is now an important business priority, with a new benchmarking study indicating Australian organisations are investing more in the health and wellbeing of their employees.

The 2015 Bupa Workplace Health in Australia Report suggests in 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.

Bupa is a leading healthcare group, providing health insurance and aged care services to its clients.

The 2015 Bupa Workplace Health in Australia Report provides an insight into why Australian employers are focusing on workplace health, initiatives currently in place and how they are implemented to maximise impact at an individual and organisational level.

Researchers from the Business School at Sydney University analysed results to provide the basis of the findings of report.

There were 150 employers who participated in the survey and included a range of small to extra large organisations.

Policies on tobacco control, flu vaccination and employee assistance programs are now considered organisational norms, with employers indicating there will be an increasing focus on supporting employee mental wellbeing, promoting healthier eating habits and better sleep management.

Harnessing technology to increase the scale, accessibility and affordability of workplace health programs will also be a key focus of workplace health strategies in the near future.

Dr Rob Grenfell, National Medical Director at Bupa Australia, claims investing in workplace health not only made great business sense, but would also benefit 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. 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," Dr Grenfell says.

“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.

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

Other key findings of the report include:

  • 25% of organisations surveyed are planning on introducing behavioural risk assessments, such as online tools assessing risk factors such as smoking, nutritional habits and physical activity.
  • Workplaces using risk assessment tools specifically capturing mental health risks and needs are expected to double over the next two years.
  • Programs encouraging staff to focus on musculoskeletal health, such as completing stretches at work, are expected to see significant growth in the next two years.
  • One in five workplaces are planning on introducing support for healthier sleeping habits in the near future.
  • Almost half (46.8%) of organisations surveyed actively include families of employees in specific social activities, and one quarter (25.7%) of workplaces extend health initiatives such as workplace wellness activities to family members.
  • Half of workplaces surveyed now completely ban smoking in their workplace, and a further 8.3% are planning on taking up this policy in the near future.

Find out more about the information and services Bupa provides for employers looking to implement effective workplace health initiatives.

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