One-Third of Workers Believe Workplace Hinders Wellness: Survey

Despite the vast majority (91 percent) of workers believing that it is their employer’s responsibility to create a healthy working environment, nearly one-third (32 percent) of employees feels their workplace actually hinders their ability to lead a healthy lifestyle, according to new independent research commissioned by the World Heart Federation and conducted by Opinion Health.

“The survey results suggest links between specific job sectors and the level of engagement in workplace-wellness initiatives, or steps taken towards a heart-healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Kathryn Taubert, senior science officer for the World Heart Federation. “As many of us spend over half of our waking hours at work, the workplace is the ideal setting to encourage behavior changes to minimize a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.”

The survey compares responses from employees from five job sectors in India, Mexico, Poland, and Portugal. The World Heart Federation’s employee survey also revealed that of those questioned:

  • Approximately 11 percent of workers do not agree that their employer supports a healthy workplace, despite 63 percent rating support of healthy initiatives, and 80 percent rating health insurance, as important or very important when choosing an employer.
  • Significantly more people in the agriculture/manual labor sector (such as farmers) work more than 50 hours per week. People in this sector were also more likely than other occupational sectors to state that they do not take steps to ensure a healthy lifestyle, and were more likely to take time off work due to sickness, with nearly a quarter having had 11 or more sick days in the past year.
  • Professional business employees (such as lawyers and accountants) were significantly more likely than other occupational sectors to state that their employer offers five or six workplace-wellness programs and initiatives (such as smoking-cessation programs or walk-to-work days).
  • People in the government and public sector (e.g. healthcare professionals or educators) and professional business sector were more likely than those in the manufacturing/engineering sector (e.g. trade and distribution) to take four steps towards a heart-healthy lifestyle (for example, undertaking physical exercise at least three times a week or not smoking).

“Apart from having a responsibility towards employees’ health, employers stand to benefit from introducing workplace-wellness programs, as they have been shown to decrease absenteeism, while increasing productivity, retention, creativity and innovation,” said Olivier Raynaud, senior director for Global Health and Health Industries. “During the past decade many businesses have recognized the importance of employee health and have committed to include health promotion as a priority in their corporate agenda.”

The report content was identified by an expert panel of representatives, who by forming an editorial board, brought together a wide variety of CVD expertise.

“The report commemorates progress made in heart health over the past ten years, whilst identifying challenges for the decade ahead, and urging governments, healthcare professionals, employers and individuals to continue to take steps to reduce the burden of heart disease and stroke,” Puska said.

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