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Why It's Win-Win For Your Employer To Help You To Be Healthy

You're happy and your boss is happy. Everybody's happy.

15/06/2016 9:25 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:54 PM AEST
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Being unhealthy is not just bad for you, it's bad for business.

New research from the NSW Government reveals staff who are inactive and stressed are three times more likely to have high rates of absenteeism -- which can cost small business up to $100,000 over five years.

It also found that inactive staff were 35 percent less likely to take breaks from their desks and staff who spent most of their time sitting were twice as likely to be considered overweight.

Other reports suggest more than 88 million days are lost to the Australian economy due to absenteeism.

But there's good news ahead, with the report showing that effective workplace health programs can deliver improved employee morale, increased productivity, staff retention and a return of between $3-$6 for every $1 invested.

The NSW Government has released a free Workplace Health Savings Calculator as part of the report so businesses can do the numbers before implementing health programs.

Deliveroo
Aussie small business Deliveroo pays for staff yoga classes to keep them active and healthy.

Some Aussie companies such as Deliveroo, Jennifer Kate, Cohen Handler and OFX are already implementing health initiatives via exercise classes and group activities.

"Staying healthy is as important as breathing for me and I like to ensure that all my employees maintain a healthy work-life balance too," Cohen Handler CEO Ben Handler told The Huffington Post Australia.

"We provide employees across our offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane with relaxing activities like yoga and meditation to help them de-stress and give them an opportunity to bond."

Awareness of the repercussions of ill health and demand for services has grown so fast that it has also sparked the rise of startups devoted to getting workers moving, motivated and healthy.

Sneaking health into the workplace

Keri Kitay and Scott Henderson started Sneakers, a small business which offers 12-week bespoke fitness and training programs to small and large companies, because they saw a need to get people moving during their working day.

Sneakers
Sneakers aims to get staff in sedentry jobs moving for at least one hour a day - and bosses are cool with it.

"We started to look into the wider population and their working habits and realised that people, specifically those who work in corporate organisations and agencies, were not doing anything active during the day due to lack of time and accessibility," Kitay told HuffPost Australia.

"Our aim is to get people moving, and get up from their desks for one hour a day and pursue activities that are positive for their wellbeing, mind and body.

"Absenteeism in the workplace is one of the biggest costs to companies. Healthy employees within an organisations means that they will have more energy, make better choices when it comes to food, increased productivity due to increased energy and alertness, increased morale among staff is formed in group exercise programs and we often find employees start grouping together to achieve their fitness and health goals."

Sneakers offers everything from yoga, pilates, boxing, circuit training, strength and conditioning, to running and walking groups.

"Most companies have been extremely receptive to the lunchtime workout," she said.

"This way, exercise becomes all-inclusive and workplaces are encouraging it and endorsing it."

Seeing the bigger wellbeing picture

James Podsiadly, ex-AFL player and current assistant coach with the Adelaide Crows, wants to create a movement for healthy change with his platform, The Wellbeing Challenge, and he says the workplace is the perfect place to do it.

"We have to start looking after each other within the workplace from a wellbeing perspective because we spend the majority of our waking lives there," he said.

The Wellbeing Challenge
Ex-AFL player James Podsiadly reckons wellbeing is far more than just squat goals.

He and business partner Paul Baulch adopted a more holistic approach when he created his platform. It works on a smartphone app where, after companies sign on, staff are rated via a short questionnaire on eight areas of life: exercise, nutrition, finance, social relationships, leadership, career, mindfulness and sleep.

Staff are then given weekly challenges over 10 weeks to complete based on their survey results which could be anything from including more grains in their diet to reaching out to friends more often or getting your superannuation in order.

Podsiadly says to be truly healthy you need to focus on the big picture.

"If you really want to look at someone's wellbeing you've got to approach it like a dashboard," he said. "Someone could be a really active person but they could have a lot of financial stress in their life or they could have relationship stress, so the whole thing about holistic wellbeing is you've got to improve all areas of your life."

He also says workplace health programs are here to stay, and businesses which ignore the trend do so at their peril.

"It's going to part of every workplace's culture in the next five to 10 years and I think organisations that don't see that are really going to fall behind in the war for talent and also productivity," he said.

The Wellbeing Challenge
The Wellbeing Challenge app delivers weekly tasks based on each individual's weaknesses across eight key areas of their life - not just fitness and nutrition.

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