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Improving employee health for business success

It is known that healthy employees tend to be more productive and engaged, at the same time, they can help the organisation save up on unnecessary medical costs.

One of the ways organisations can ensure employees are healthy and productive is to implement health and wellness programmes which encourage staff to lead healthier lifestyles. But do these interventions actually work?

Speaking at the AIA Vitality Summit 2017, attended by Human Resources, earlier this week, Sim Beng Khoon, director, Health Promotion Board (HPB), statutory board of the Ministry of Health, Singapore, said: "A well-designed workplace programme works. Lifestyle factors are modifiable, and if we can modify them, we shall."

With many Singaporeans spending a majority of their waking hours at work, Sim pointed out that the workplace is a very high potential touch point for health interventions to take place. He said: "To catch workers and encourage them to live healthy, the workplace is the main setting."

"When you run health promotion programmes in your company, it is going to benefit your employees," he added.

However, Sim also noted that programmes implemented should be relevant and attractive in order for employees to be willing to participate. In addition to implementing programmes, he noted that its impact should be measured at a personal level for the individual and at an organisational level to ensure that the funds are channelled into the right programmes.

ALSO READ: What employers need to know about health and productivity in APAC

Speaking of measuring impacts, Alexander Yap, global rewards director, United Test and Assembly Center (UTAC), pointed out that what gets measured gets done, what gets rewarded gets repeated, when he took the stage at the AIA Vitality Summit to share the changes the organisation experienced when their global CHRO decided to track team health as a KPI.

Yap’s example proved the point that health interventions do not need to be costly to work - starting out with small group activities such as short 12km cycling trips, the corporate HR team then progressed to cycling 40km to 50km at least three times a week, seeing tremendous improvements in their health metrics in the process.

Sharing his personal achievement, Yap said: "I lost 16 kg in about five to six months."

The department’s success caught the attention of employees from various other functions - some expressed interest in joining the group, while others went on to create their own groups.

"It started off with a leader, caring enough for the team, to want to do something. It starts with that resolve. It starts with somebody who had an awakening," Yap said.

Yap also noted that apart from having an impact on the team’s health, it also helped break a lot of the stress in the workplace.

"When I think about work, I look forward to what activities I will be doing with my buddies every day. I no longer look at my workplace as a work. Similarly, when I look at my boss, I no longer see him as someone who only cares about the KPI, I now see him as a fun guy," he elaborated.

“I truly believe that what we have achieved as a small team, if we can replicate that, there will be huge success,” Yap concluded.

The AIA Vitality summit 2017, themed "Changing behaviours for a healthier workforce" was held on Monday, April 3 2017. The event brought together leaders from the financial, healthcare, and policymaking sectors to discuss and provide practical advice on how companies can inspire behavioural change and influence good habits among employees to reap the business benefits of a healthy workforce.

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READ MORE: Healthy recipes for an engaged workforce

- With inputs from Natasha Ganesan

Photo / 123RF

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