promoting workplace wellness
An ageing population, increasing rates of chronic disease, the blurring of work-life activities, and a growing awareness of mental health issues are making workplace wellness a hot topic in Australia. Approximately a third of adult life is spent at work, so governments, employers and workers have a shared interest in workplace health and wellbeing.
The federal government’s Healthy Workers initiative is providing states and territories with $289 million to implement healthy work programs over nine years from 2011. Small-to-medium businesses are a particular focus as they employ such a large percentage of Australian workers. The initiative aims to reduce obesity, decrease smoking rates, increase physical activity and encourage healthy eating habits.
A rapidly changing work environment and an ageing talent pool means employers need a healthy, motivated, talented and mentally resilient workforce more than ever. Preventative health programs can help to strengthen existing work health and safety initiatives, attract talent, reduce absenteeism and improve employee engagement, by demonstrating a deeper commitment to the health of workers. Most wellness programs are aimed at influencing individual health behaviours and attitudes, as well as encouraging social interaction through face-to-face activities and team sports.
Company wellness programs can include:
- annual health checks
- behavioural change programs to reduce high-risk activities like smoking or excessive alcohol consumption
- voluntary one-on-one coaching for individuals with multiple risk factors
- vaccination programs
- health insurance subsidies
- gym or sporting club memberships or subsidies
- provision of fruit to encourage healthy eating habits
- sporting events and challenges
- weight management and mobility programs
- massage or physiotherapist visits.