The workplace is recognised as a priority setting for health promotion by the World Health Organization and the Australian Government. The cost of absenteeism in Australia is estimated at $7 billion each year.
Research shows that workplace health programs result in a 25% decrease in sick leave absenteeism and a 41% decrease in workers compensation costs. Companies who invest in employee well-being programs also experience a $5.81 of savings for every $1 invested. Further research indicates that employees who spend 2.5 hours per week exercising during work hours attain the same or higher productivity levels than their less physically active colleagues.
Organisations should focus not just on increasing physical activity levels in the workplace but also on reducing sitting time. It’s not necessarily about working up a sweat, even ‘non-sweaty’ light-intensity activity for 2 minutes every hour can have significant benefits. For example:
Posture at work has long been recognised as a potential occupational hazard, but research is now linking high amounts of sedentary time with premature death, heart disease and diabetes. There is increasing recognition that sedentary time in office-based workplaces also needs to be considered as a potential adverse health risk and is a separate consideration to the lack of physical activity outside work hours.