There are three significant reasons worth mentioning:
1. What is generally occurring is not working
Chronic disease is on the rise and impacting on the health and wellbeing of Australia’s workers. Chronic disease, which is considered to be largely preventable, is identified as the prime cause of lost work time in the working-age population and often leads to disability and early retirement.
Health conditions associated with low labour force participation in the45-64 years age group and “lost workforce” are back problems, arthritis and related disorders and mental illness.
Most chronic diseases in Australia are associated with one or more of the following lifestyle-related risk factors:
- unhealthy eating;
- physical inactivity;
- alcohol; and
The workplace health and wellbeing market is growing. However, trends within the market are initiatives that:
- Only focus on one or narrow bands of health and wellbeing (e.g. just soft tissue injuries or mental health)
- Rely heavily on on-site presence which is expensive, caps the amount of people who can be worked with and has geographic challenges
- Are solely tech/app based with no human interaction
- Are vague and open ended
- Depend too greatly on the client (i.e. organisations) providing resources to the cause (most companies do not have the scope within existing roles to ever really own large pieces of work such as improving an organisations health and wellbeing)
- Cannot measure or demonstrate their effectiveness (typically depending too much on anecdotal evidence)
- Do not progress beyond ‘awareness’. Examples of this include one off workshops, key note speakers or monthly focus topics. Awareness is valuable but only the first few steps of a truly successful health and wellbeing program (these initiatives do not drive behaviours and sustain change)
2. It’s the right and productive thing to do
Employers who run health and wellbeing programs do so because they want to:
- Improve work performance and productivity
- Reduce costs associated with absenteeism, presenteeism, disability and workers’ compensation
- Improve the culture of the organisation and retain existing employees
- Improve the organisation’s image, attract talented employees and fulfil corporate social responsibility obligations
3. Health and wellbeing is following a similar journey to what safety has.
Health and wellbeing is presently in the phase of government guidance and recommendations of best practice. This trajectory, like the one of ‘safety’, in the not too distant future progresses to deliberate and effective health and wellbeing strategies and outcomes becoming mandated and legislated. The opportunity for employers is to be ahead of this, with systems and a culture established prior to catching up to fulfill mandated requirements.
In January of 2019 Safe Work Australia released ‘Work-related psychological health and safety, a systematic approach to meeting your duties. National guidance material’.
This Safe Work Australia paper emphasizes that a systematic approach is required to “…meet your legal duties to implement controls that eliminate or minimise the risk of psychological injuries…preventing psychological injury and supporting recovery.” “… Poor psychological work health and safety can lead to both psychological and physical injuries.”
Safe Work also detail how “using a thorough and systematic approach can have significant business benefits including:
- decreasing business disruption and costs from work-related psychological injury
- improving worker motivation, engagement and job satisfaction so increasing productivity, reducing absenteeism and turnover, and ultimately helping your organisation achieve its business goals, and
- enhancing your reputation as an employer of choice.”
We’ve modeled our HealthCi program to address these very issues. A complete solution that provides an ongoing system to improve an organisations oversight, guide resources and improve the workforce’s health and wellbeing. It has been built from evidence-based resources and our extensive experience in workplace health and wellbeing.
Check out healthci.com.au if you’re keen to find out more.
- World Economic Forum 2008, Working Towards Wellness: The Business Rationale, 1 July 2011,http://www.scribd.com/doc/51217174/Wellness-The-Business-Rationale
- Schofield, D.J, Shrestha, R.N, Passey, M.E, Earnest, Aand Fletcher, S.L 2008, ‘Chronic disease and labour force participation amongolder Australians’, The MedicalJournal of Australia, 189(8), pp.447-450, 19 August 2011,http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/189_08_201008/sch11012_fm.html
- Peeters, A 2007, Research Summary: Disease Trends,VicHealth, 1 July 2011, http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/~/media/ResourceCentre/PublicationsandResources/research_DiseaseTrends.ashx5
- Australian Government, Comcare. Benefits to Business:The Evidence for Investing in Worker Health and Wellbeing.