Article: Tackle absenteeism with employee fitness

Employee Engagement

Tackle absenteeism with employee fitness

Read this article to know about the insights on improving employee and company health.
Tackle absenteeism with employee fitness

The beginning of every week seems to trigger a flurry of hard to miss trending hashtags like #MondayMorningBlues and #MondayMotivation on social media timelines. Going back to work is something most people appear to dread. While it has become the subject of many memes, the root cause is much deeper and far too serious to brush off as a joke. This mass behaviour highlights some fundamental issues with the way we lead our lives.

The average corporate employee is not happy, feeling jaded and ‘burning out’ fast. And a large portion of the blame literally ‘sits’ with the lifestyles choices we make. The increasing number of working professionals who lead a sedentary lifestyle, especially in Tier I cities, is alarming. This puts us at risk of at least 35 chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease, etc.

Battling poor health, physical or mental, can lead to high levels of absenteeism. This in turn leads to increased workloads, tighter deadlines and a potentially negative economic impact - for the individual and the company. All of these factors can cause high levels of stress. And the cycle self-perpetuates.

Work smarter, not harder

Long hours spent sitting behind our desks often proves counterproductive. It’s ironic how the faster the pace of life, the less we move. The human body was designed to move and stop, move and stop…not just to stop! So get up and take a break from your desk at regular intervals. Explore the many opportunities that we have in daily life to be ‘active’ both at home and work. This will help refresh your mind and increase your productivity.

Through our experience with corporate employees over the past four years, we have witnessed amazing results from participants of the Stepathlon 100 Day Race. In the survey conducted and evaluated by IMRB, participants’ responses were recorded before and after the race. The 2015 IMRB survey indicates a significant rise in energy and fitness levels, reduction in stress and body weight and improved quality of sleep among Stepathletes. The survey found that 44% of Stepathletes reported sleeping better, 46% felt more energetic, and 20% of smokers quit smoking. 44% felt less stressed while 44% experienced better teamwork within the organisation. Remarkably, 47% participants reduced absenteeism due to sick leave and 41% experienced an increase in productivity.

A healthy mind in a healthy body

Another key factor that negatively affects employees and their organisations is ‘presenteeism’ - the act of being absent mentally, in spite of being present physically. There can be many reasons for presenteeism, but in most cases it is a result of working while sick, injured, stressed or tired.  This can cause loss of productivity, exhaustion and takes a toll on our health in the long run.

Everyday fitness measures like walking, exercising and eating healthy provides us with energy and improves our immunity while making us more resilient. It charges up the body for the day ahead. An energetic mind is able to focus better and successfully complete tasks for the day, thereby displaying improved efficiency.

Poor mental health has been described as one of the major risk factors for health & well-being and it costs companies billions of dollars every year. The 2015 World Happiness Report released by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network ranked India 118th out of 157.

Last year, Stepathlon jointly conducted a Mental Health study with global public health expert and renowned epidemiologist, Professor Maximilian de Courten. We measured and evaluated the impact of increased physical activity on three major aspects of mental health - Stress, Anxiety and Depression. The results show statistically significant and meaningful declines in all three markers of distress!

Specifically, symptoms of depression decreased by 11.7%, anxiety 8%, and stress 9.7%. Broken down by gender, the corresponding reductions were 11.3%, 8.2% and 9.8% for men, and 13.4%, 7.3% and 9.6% for women. These results are quite remarkable, as the participants were not clinically depressed, nor pre-diagnosed with poor mental health. They were regular people who represented a large segment of the global workforce.

Incorporating fitness in the rat race

Foresight and forward planning can help us eat better and stay active on a daily basis. You can pack small meals for the entire day or set aside half an hour for exercise or head out for short 10 minute walks thrice a day – the positive impact of these small changes on our health is enormous.  For instance, just 30 minutes of activity every day such as walking can reduce our risk of heart disease by 44%, anxiety and depression by 48% and arthritis by 47%.

From a company perspective, there is an economic reason behind why we should encourage our employees to be healthier. An employee who regularly exercises and eats healthy will probably come to the office more often, be more productive at work and less costly in terms of medical insurance. Company performance is typically adjudged on financial, social and environmental parameters. However, health has now emerged as the “fourth bottom line”.

The path to professional and personal success is greatly helped by being active, eating well, sleeping soundly and making the right choices as often as possible. This can go a long way in making our lives healthier, happier and more productive - definitely something worth investing in!

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Topics: Employee Engagement

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