Good health key to better work performance

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Keeping in shape equates to better performance in the workplace – that’s according to 70% of employees surveyed by recruitment and HR services firm, Randstad, who said the quality of their work benefits when they exercise regularly.

And while the Randstad Workmonitor report found that Kiwi workers viewed staying fit as primarily a personal responsibility than any other nation in the world, Randstad New Zealand director, Paul Robinson, said employees and employers should be working together to ensure “everyone is as healthy and happy as possible”.

The survey highlights that many workplaces already implement strategies to help their employees stay fit – 62% of workers noting their current employer actively supports a healthy lifestyle. However, 70% of employees said they were not allowed to play in a sporting team during office hours, and only 32% noted their employer currently subsidises gym or fitness group memberships.
Robinson said while it’s good that employers are promoting healthy habits, workplaces should focus on developing proactive health programs.
“Employees who are fit both mentally and physically will have more energy, be more effective and efficient, and enjoy their work more. A fit, healthy and happy workforce can have a surprising impact on workplace productivity as well as retention rates, so creating a strong work-life culture in your office, along with actively implementing healthy living programs, should be a focus for businesses in every industry,” he said.
“Healthy living programs can also have other business benefits which might not be immediately obvious. A sporting team for instance can also help build a stronger culture in the office, improve productivity and allow for networking and interaction, particularly in large businesses where some departments don’t usually interact.”
Meanwhile, the latest Consumer Health Mindset survey from Aon Hewitt found a marked difference between the behaviours and attitudes that male and female employees display towards their health and wellbeing.  

The results showed that female employees are more concerned about their health and place a higher priority on staying healthy than their male counterparts. However, they are also more likely to view personal stress, affordability and lack of employer support as obstacles to improving their personal health. 

“While women are generally more actively engaged in their health care and understand what they need to do to get and stay healthy, employers need to ensure both men and women are making good health a priority,” Joann Hall Swenson, health engagement leader at Aon Hewitt, said. “To effectively encourage healthier behaviours across the entire employee population, companies need to implement a holistic health and wellness strategy that considers different segments of the workforce, targets decision makers and encourages active employee participation in health decisions.”

For employers to more effectively reach their entire workforce about their personal health, Aon Hewitt experts suggest the following steps:
  • Segment the workforce. Leveraging workforce data, employers need to segment their employee population and covered dependents demographically and attitudinally and then design programs, incentives and marketing materials that best appeal to the unique needs of their workforce.
  • Target decision makers. Employers should intentionally communicate with individuals who are making the health decisions in a family. For example, companies may want to consider sending targeted communication that appeal uniquely to each gender on how to manage health services and expenses. Companies can also offer opt-in gender-specific health texts with language and tips more suited to each gender.
  • Make dealing with stress a priority. Employers should identify the top issues driving stress within their population (looking at both work-related and personal drivers) and develop a strategy to address these issues. To appeal to women, companies should make these offerings easy and convenient to work around their family lives. Since male workers are more likely to cope with stress in sedentary ways, employers should also try to encourage exercise as a top motivator for managing stress. Additionally, to help employees respond in a healthy way to life stressors, companies should consider implementing programs targeted at building resilience.

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