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article imageOne-third workers believe workplace hinders healthy lifestyle

By Subir Ghosh     Sep 26, 2010 in Health
Over 90 percent surveyed workers believe it is the employer‟s responsibility to create a healthy working environment, and a third feel their workplace actually hinders their ability to lead a healthy lifestyle, according to the World Heart Federation.
The findings are from a survey released on Sunday on occasion of World Heart Day, the largest global awareness campaign on heart disease and stroke. The survey (PDF, 150 KB), conducted by Opinion Health for the federation, compared responses from employees across five job sectors in India, Mexico, Poland and Portugal.
Among other findings, approximately one out of ten (11 percent) workers did not agree that their employer supports a healthy workplace, despite six out of ten employees (63 percent) rating support of healthy initiatives, and eight out of ten (80 percent) rating health insurance, as important or very important when choosing an employer.
More people in the agriculture/manual labour 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 (22 percent) having had 11 or more sick days in the past year.
The survey World Heart Federation found that 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 programmes and initiatives (such as smoking-cessation programmes or walk to work days)
People in the government and public sector (e.g. healthcare professionals or educators) and professional business sector (such as lawyers and accountants) were more likely than those in the manufacturing or 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).
The survey findings demonstrate the cross-cutting links between an employer’s support of
workplac...
The survey findings demonstrate the cross-cutting links between an employer’s support of workplace-wellness initiatives and the likelihood that an employer will take steps towards a healthy lifestyle.
Chrissy Wainright
“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, World Heart Federation. “As many of us spend over half of our waking hours at work, the workplace is the ideal setting to encourage behaviour changes to minimise a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.”
The survey findings suggest that workplace-wellness initiatives are important to employees, but that employers may not recognise the value of them, as they are not consistently adopting them. The survey results findings underscore the importance of informing employers that apart from having a responsibility towards employees’ health, employers stand to benefit from introducing workplace wellness programmes, as they may increase the attractiveness of a job, and have been shown to have a positive financial benefits by saving healthcare costs and improving productivity.
Of the countries surveyed, employees in India work the longest hours, with Mexican, Portuguese and Polish respondents working an average of 31–40 hours per week, compared to Indians working 41-50 hours per week. Significantly more people in India work more than 50 hours per week.
Indian employees were also more likely than employees in the other countries surveyed to take one to 15 sick days. Despite this, employees in India were more likely than those in other countries to consider support of healthy initiatives or health insurance as not important when choosing an employer, the survey found.
The survey findings demonstrate the cross-cutting links between an employer’s support of workplace-wellness initiatives and the likelihood that an employer will take steps towards a healthy lifestyle, the federation said. The results also demonstrate a need to improve the quality of information about the importance of engaging in a healthy lifestyle to both employers and employees, to encourage adoption of behaviours within the workplace to prevent heart disease and stroke.
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