Why sick staff can mean bad businessBy James Grima | Sep 06, 12 08:26 AM
What are unhealthy employees really costing business and what can we do to help?
“Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.” -Mike Adams
The most valuable asset of any business is its people, so it may be surprising to learn that there are still employers who don’t place much importance on the health of their staff.
While it may seem difficult to measure, it has been proven over many studies that healthy staff does indeed mean higher productivity and lowered costs.
What are unhealthy employees really costing your business?
Unhealthy employees are nine times more likely to have sick days than healthy employees, with their absences costing Australian businesses around $30 billion per year.
A Medibank Private study found that healthy Australian employees are almost three times more productive than their unhealthy colleagues, clocking up around 143 hours of productive work hours per month compared to the measly 49 productive work hours of their off-colour colleagues.
This same study goes on to show that 10% of Australian workers don’t exercise at all, 54% exercising less than one hour per week and only 8% eating five or more serves of fruit and vegetables per day. It’s a little wonder then that, at the time of this study, 62% of Australian workers surveyed were overweight.
As if these statistics aren’t disturbing enough for business leaders, these unhealthy habits can also lead to chronic diseases. Chronic diseases are illnesses like heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. The main causes of chronic diseases are smoking, alcohol, lack of physical exercise, poor eating habits and stress, and you can only begin to imagine the cost to your business once one of your staff develops a chronic disease (not to mention it would be heartbreaking to watch someone in your team fall so ill).
Prevention is better than cure
By creating a culture of health, and putting a high value on the health of yourself and those around you, means you’ll have a business bursting with energetic, bright and confident people. They will be absence less, have a lowered risk of incurring injuries and greater levels of productivity.
Fit and healthy employees are able to manage stress more effectively, leading to greater performance. Stress can cause everything from high blood pressure and heart disease to lack of focus and poor decision making. Stress affects other areas of your employees’ lives too, not just work, such as their eating habits and sleeping patterns. When looked at like that, the pain of being fit and healthy seems far less than the pain of being unable to manage and falling ill!
When developing a voluntary health initiative into your business, some of your employees will embrace it enthusiastically. Others will give you a whole list of excuses as to why they can’t participate, including:
· I don’t have time
· I don’t like the gym
· There is no gym that is convenient
· I’m too overweight
· I’m too tired
· I’ve never exercise and it’s too late to start.
The basic answer to these is: if you don’t have time to exercise, then you had better find the time to be sick!
How you can help your employees?
There are a host of different programs you can incorporate into the day to day habits of your employees.
1. Encourage “activity” breaks where staff can go for a 15 minute walk or have a stretch. Invest in a couple of a mini-trampolines in the workplace and encourage the use breaks for positive rewards – not snacking on chocolate or smoking. Regular breaks actually increase productivity, not decrease it!
2. Subsidised gym memberships.
3. Education. Have a monthly speaker such as a personal trainer, nutritionist or other health professional come and speak to your staff.
4. Say “no” to junk food in the workplace and “yes” to nutritionally positive snacks such as fruit, nuts and vegetables. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!
5. Think about subsidising Quit Smoking treatments for your employees.
Exercise and a good diet can sound boring, but together they increase confidence and energy, lower the risk for disease and raise output and efficiency.
While most people will enthusiastically embrace a health initiative in the workplace, not all your staff will be motivated to change or participate. But if you gently support participation and lead by example, then over time you will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the small minority of employees not ready for change.
James is a Premium member of Business Chicks; request his online businesscard and connect with him here.
A lifetime Entrepreneur, James has amassed over 20 years of hands-on successful multi-unit food retailing experience, opening his first retail pizza outlet at the age of 19 and was a millionaire by 21. He franchised the Pizza Lovers brand in 1999, which was acquired by Domino’s Pizza five years later. Now, Founder and CEO of Positive Training - the only specialist Food Retail Traineeship provider. Read more tips and tools from the workplace culture guru at www.JamesGrima.com.au.