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Healthier and safer workplace must start from the inside out

Fostering a culture of health and wellness makes for a more productive workplace

Last year, the Tripartite Strategies Committee for Workplace Safety and Health outlined its Workplace Safety and Health 2028 (WSH2028) vision for "A Healthy Workforce in Safe Workplaces".

While most workplace safety and health discussions have centred upon one of the key WSH2028 outcomes to reduce workplace fatalities in high-risk industries, there has been an increase in workplace accidents.

This has been linked to poorly-managed chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In Singapore, one in nine people has diabetes, one in three has high blood pressure and one in two has high cholesterol.

This month is Global Employee Health & Fitness Month.

We urge all business leaders to review the health and wellness strategies at the workplace and take a more proactive approach to foster healthier and safer workplaces from the inside out.

Not only does a positive working environment reduce absenteeism and corporate healthcare costs, building a corporate culture that believes in the value of health and wellness at all levels also drives employee engagement, raises business productivity and improves bottom lines.

As an employer in the nutrition industry, we see three areas as being crucial in helping companies foster a healthier and more productive workplace from the inside out:

Promote healthy, active lifestyles

In today's technology-connected world, with endless streams of demands being placed upon employees via a constant influx of e-mails and text messages, sedentary lifestyles have become all-too-familiar scenes in today's corporate world.

To promote active living in today's time-strapped working environments, organisations can make it easier for employees to adopt active lifestyles by making these programmes more accessible for them.

Simple initiatives that companies can start with include subsidising gym memberships, organising group exercise sessions or encouraging organisation-wide participation in mass sporting events.

Encourage healthy eating in the workplace

Being confined to the work desk for long periods often means workers are tempted to reach for unhealthy snacks as quick and convenient means to fuel their brain and body.

In view of this trend, organisations can encourage employees to be more conscious about their food intake

They can also work on organisation-wide initiatives to get employees to take a greater interest in healthy eating.

For example, companies may organise healthy eating days where healthier food options are catered for employees; or install vending machines within the office to provide healthier snack options.

Prioritise mental and emotional wellness

With more and more employees finding it challenging to strike a good balance between their work and personal life, employees can often end up neglecting their personal mental and emotional well-being.

To provide mental and emotional health support for their employees, organisations can play an active role to incorporate mental wellness as part of corporate health and wellness programmes.

This can be as simple as organising stress-relief activities such as art jamming classes and stress-buster massages, or providing emotional and mental support via professional counsellors.

At the end of the day, building a healthy workplace needs to start from the inside out.

Only with the collective efforts of the business leaders, human resource teams, managers and employees, can organisations shape happier workplaces for the long-term, and create healthier and safer work environments for everyone.

The writer is senior vice-president and managing Director, Herbalife Nutrition Asia Pacific.

MEDICAL & HEALTH