This survey suggests that we may not be.
The Sun Life Canadian Health Index study categorized respondents into the following health categories: Overconfident (23%), Overextended (22%), Health Achievers (22%), Resilient (18%) and Inhibited (16%).
Which category do you fit into?
- Overconfident Group – consider their health status to be high and are not currently concerned about their future health. However, their behaviours and motivation are not necessarily strong enough to support their optimistic outlook.
- Overextended Group – healthy behaviours take a back seat to career demands and family obligations. Lack of knowledge, time and money were cited as major barriers to healthier habits.
- Health Achievers – take full responsibility for their own health and take part in the right behaviours to support it.
- Resilient Group – value a healthy lifestyle and are motivated to engage in healthy behaviours, however, pre-existing health conditions make it difficult to lead the healthy lifestyle they desire.
- Inhibited Group – reported behaviour that indicates that they are only marginally less healthy than average, however their perception of their own health is much poorer. This group would like support, but they don’t always reach out to ask for help.
Unhealthy behaviours are clearly linked to poor health outcomes. For many Canadians, personal and professional priorities are demanding a lot of attention and taking care of their health sometimes gets put on the back burner. Even those with a firm resolve to lose weight, exercise more or quit smoking can find that day-to-day distractions and competing commitments can make it a struggle to accomplish their goal.
- The Sun Life Canadian Health Index study found that the biggest barriers to a healthier lifestyle for many people were time, money and motivation. Almost half of employed respondents in their OptumHealth survey said that having “too little time” was one of the biggest obstacles to maintaining a healthier regimen at work. Over one-third pointed to too much stress at work and one in five said their job was too demanding to allow them to focus on healthful choices. 33% said there were too many unhealthy foods around for them to live a healthy lifestyle in the workplace.
- Experts at CareerBuilder, the online career Web site, conducted a survey of workers and the results showed that half of workers put in more than 40 hours a week, while 14% put in more than 50 hours. In addition, one-third of survey participants brought home work at least once a week, while one-in-ten did the same at least every other day.
- According to a Mayo Clinic survey, high-stress employees reported a lower quality of life, poorer health, less support and more fatigue than their less stressed colleagues. They were also more likely to have high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol and to be overweight. The study showed the biggest differences between stressed and non-stressed respondents were in fatigue levels after a regular night’s sleep and in current quality of life.
Workplace health programs can provide employees with targeted health messages, convenient access to fitness opportunities and a supportive environment. According to research by OptumHealth, the workplace is a key component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Of the employees who participated in workplace health programs and were able to lose weight or quit smoking, more than half said that the workplace program was very helpful.
The results indicated that workplace wellness programs were highly valued by employees at companies that make them available. 87% of those surveyed believed that the support and encouragement given by these programs was an appropriate role for their employer and 84% said that the presence of workplace health and wellness programs was a sign that a company cared about its employees. The benefits cited from participating in their company’s health and wellness programs included being more productive on the job and feeling better able to control unhealthy behaviors while at work.
For employers, these efforts can result in greater retention of top talent and positively influence how employers are perceived by employees. And a company that promotes a wellness culture can find that such a culture can help reduce medical costs over time. A Harvard University study, found that for every dollar spent on wellness programs, medical costs fell by about $3.27 and absenteeism costs by $2.73.
In addition, the Towers Watson Staying@Work report showed that employers with highly effective wellness programs performed more than 55% better than their industry peers, achieved higher average revenue per employee and saw less absence, disability and total turnover, as well as lower annual medical costs.
Workplace wellness organizers should know what group their employees fall into and should target the programs according to their health category.
What does this mean for your wellness programming?
Evaluate and understand your employees health categories and tailor your programming to address these issues and remove or minimize the barriers that may be impeding their healthy choices.
What are the major barriers impeding your employees` healthy lifestyle choices?
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!