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Workplace health and wellbeing

Experts — Posted 09/10/14

What makes a good workplace? For most Australians, health and wellbeing is an important factor – but one in four are concerned about the impact of their work environment on their health, Medibank research reveals.

A positive work environment where our health and wellbeing is treated as a priority is the ideal for many Australians. In a new Medibank study, 72% of respondents identified employee health and wellbeing as one of the top three most important elements of a good workplace. However, one in four said they had concerns about the impact their workplace was having on their health, revealing a gap that should be addressed in order for both individuals and businesses to thrive.

The Medibank Health Check #3 – Workplace Health and Wellbeing is the third in a series of reports on emerging health issues. The independent community survey asked 1,500 Australians their views about health and wellbeing in the workplace, including how much it is valued, what factors impact workplace health, and what consequences result from health being a low priority.

“Survey respondents believe that the impact of poor workplace health and wellbeing is costly to the individual in terms of health issues such as stress and depression, and also to the organisation in terms of absenteeism, performance and staff turnover,” says Dr Melissa Lehmann, clinical psychologist and Medibank’s National Specialist Service Manager, Workplace Health.

“The survey suggests that organisations that build a culture of health and wellbeing and support it with relevant training will improve individual job satisfaction and business performance.”

Views on workplace health and wellbeing

The report found that:

• Workplace health is important to employees. 34% ranked health and wellbeing as the most important aspect of a good workplace. Career progression and company profitability were considered the least important factors, with only 9% ranking each as number one.

• Many are concerned about the level of health and wellbeing in their workplace. 1 in 4 had negative feelings about their workplace. 12% reported feeling slow and uninspired, 6% feeling stressed and unproductive, and 6% feeling depressed and unwell. Only 43% believed their workplace took health and wellbeing seriously.

• Some types of work environments are felt to be more positive than others. Professionals had the most positive response to their workplace (82%), while sales and clerical workers had the most negative response (25%).

• Changes in workplace culture could increase positive feelings. The key drivers of health and wellbeing in the workplace were identified as: a strong health and safety culture (68% rated this as highly or extremely important), health and safety training (61%) and regular holidays (61%).

• Sickness and stress are the biggest consequences of poor workplace health. Respondents identified the consequences of poor workplace and health and wellbeing to be: increased sick days (46%), high levels of stress (46%), high staff turnover (40%), and low productivity (38%).

“The fact that health and wellbeing was rated the most important factor in a good workplace but only 43% of respondents thought that their workplace took it seriously is cause for concern,” says Dr Lehmann.

“But on a positive note, the survey results highlight the opportunities for organisations to concentrate on workplace health and wellbeing as well as employee wellbeing and organisational performance.”

The survey coincides with the recent consolidation of Medibank’s Melbourne offices into a new purpose-build head office in Docklands.

“Medibank’s new workplace consolidates its long-standing commitment to the mental and physical wellbeing of its people, through a new work environment and culture that promotes activity, productivity and staff collaboration. Medibank stands for better health and our commitment to improve the health of all Australians starts with our own workforce.”

Read the full report, Medibank Health Check #3: Workplace Health and Wellbeing.

Extra   Liked this report? Check out the previous Medibank Health Checks on screen use and health aspirations.
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