Magazine article New Zealand Management

Inbox: Health Intervention in the Workplace

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Inbox: Health Intervention in the Workplace

Article excerpt

The high costs of ill health are driving a growing investment by New Zealand workplaces in employee health.

A recent survey of 402 upper North Island employers found that nearly 50 percent of employers had a formal health and wellness programme in place. Surprisingly, more than half of those had started it in the past three years -- a time when adverse economic conditions saw belt tightening in many business areas.

The survey, conducted by not-for-profit health insurer Southern Cross Health Society and the Employers and Manufacturers Association Northern, found that 93 percent of all businesses surveyed offered some form of health intervention in the workplace.

Southern Cross Health Society chief executive Peter Tynan said employers realise that during recessionary times it was even more important to ensure employees remained healthy, productive and loyal.

"Reduced sick leave is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of cost savings from these types of programmes. Last year a report by Treasury estimated the effect of workers being on the job, but due to ill health, not fully productive, was potentially costing the country up to $8 billion a year in lost productivity."

Reducing absenteeism was seen by 60 percent of employers as a key reason to have these health initiatives. And the programmes appear to be highly successful. A third of those with a formal health and wellness programme in place reported reduced staff absence due to illness in the last year, while nearly half reported a reduction in time off work due to injury. …

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