The benefits of being an employer who gives a shift
Those of us who work in office jobs located in the city or in other busy regional centres know all too well how stressful the workplace can be and how hard it often is – not only the demands of our jobs, but also the pace and energy of our work environments and the city itself.
An article published on ABC online earlier this year reported that a research report commissioned Pathology Awareness Australia (PAA) found that employee absenteeism is costing employers in the order of $7 billion per year. Perhaps more interesting than that, it found that “presenteeism” was costing employers and the economy up around $34 billion per year. “Presenteeism” is explained as employees that go to work but who, as a consequence of illness, poor health, stress and so on, are present at work, but are not functioning at the level they could, should or need to be.
In recent years there has been an increased focus on how workplace stress can impact upon an individuals health and their level of productivity and satisfaction within their jobs. Alongside this has been a shift by some employers to institute “wellness” initiatives that aim to minimise or offset stresses placed on their employee, both physical and mentally.
For example, many employers are now buying their staff “sit down/stand up” desk, enabling their staff to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the work day. Others are introducing weekly pilates, yoga or meditation classes, organising group sports or fitness activities at lunch time, stocking the staff kitchen with healthy snack alternatives or having seminars for staff in relation to healthy lifestyle and eating habits. Some employers go as far as providing their staff mandatory “mental health days”, gym memberships and health care cover.
The benefits of such “wellness” initiatives for both the employer and the employee are varied and numerous. They include but are not limited to:
- Increases staff general health and fitness levels including weight reduction, increased energy and stamina, improved immune system and, in turn, a decrease in staff susceptibility to illness and disease in the body
- Provides staff with mechanisms for coping with stressful situations in a calm and measured manner, and in a way that does not comprise their own health, or the position of their employer;
- Increases staff productivity through improving stamina, motivation and overall job satisfaction;
- Encourages collegiality and socialisation between co-workers and increases overall morale; and
- Improves confidence, satisfaction, loyalty and retention of staff.
Whilst there is inevitably a cost to employers associated with the introduction of well thought out and meaningful “wellness” initiatives to the workplace, the cost associated with ignoring the needs and health of staff could potentially prove more costly!
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