Heroes Don't Always Wear Capes
Article By: Demi Katsavos 10/01/2019
Dreamt of being a hero and saving a life? How about starting with your own or even a colleague?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018), cardiovascular disease or heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia, affecting one Australian every 12 minutes (1). This statistic may include you if paired with working long hours with little sleep; or even your colleague on the next desk regularly taking cigarette breaks.
Lack of sleep, smoking, physical inactivity, as well as unhealthy food choices contribute to higher disease risk. These behaviours are commonly identified in employees whose work is stressful and inactive (2) which means that heart health could be impacted with a healthier workplace.
Developing healthy lifestyle behaviours needs to be considered to prevent problems from occurring, in addition to managing existing cases of cardiovascular disease. Workplaces are an excellent environment to start healthy behaviour change, in an attempt to minimise disease when done correctly, usually in collaboration with industry experts. Positive change in the workplace works best when it stems from an executive level, encouraging healthy behaviour change amongst staff and essentially creating a downward ripple effect. The introduction of workplace interventions are cost-effective, as they may reduce absenteeism due to ill health. Absenteeism refers to an employee purposefully skipping work without a valid reason. In doing so, it negatively affects the organisations output, as well as its culture. So what are you waiting for?
Fly Into Change!
To assist you in your endeavour, we have some tips to assist you:
- Provide health checks or other screenings which staff are encouraged to access in an attempt to optimise job performance. For example, participation in cholesterol tests provides an indication of the early onset of heart disease with further medical examination referred if necessary.
- Consider policies that encourage employees to limit access to work-related emails outside of work hours, in an effort to reduce stress and anxiety. This will potentially help improve levels of sleep and result in a productive workforce.
- Introduce stretching or movement work breaks (2-3) per day initiated by team or line leaders/managers, ensuring that no-one works through without an occasional break. This will encourage employees to walk around or outside of the office for fresh air in an attempt to reduce fatigue.
- Encourage employees weekly to bring a lunch that relates to a particular colour, vegetable or letter; the most creative healthy lunch gets a reward. Encouragement in participation of affordable cooking demonstrations provided by offsite companies can also inform employees that healthy eating isn’t associated with being difficult or boring.
- EAP clients can participate in SMG Health ‘Ask the Expert’ where professional advice is available online, making it easily accessible without leaving your office and from the comfort of your own desk.
...but remember, no-one soared into the sky of success overnight. Contact SMG Health for assistance on 1300 657 644.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2018. Causes of Death, Australia, 2017. [Online] Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@nsf/0/47E19CA15036B04BCA2577570014668B/Opendocument [Accessed 23 Nov. 2018]
- Corbett, D., Fennell, C., Peroutky, K., Kingsley, J. and Glickman, E. (2018). The effects of a 12-week worksite physical activity intervention on anthropometric indices, blood pressure indices, and plasma biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk among university employees. BMC Research Notes, 11.