Workplace health impact stats

Compelling reasons to boost employee health

Over 10 million Australians spend on average eight hours per day in the workplace. In NSW 60 per cent of the population aged 15 years and over are engaged in employment, making the workplace an important setting for health promotion programs.

Research shows there are many measurable benefits to organisations and employers in implementing workplace health programs, including increased workplace productivity, reduced absenteeism, improved employee satisfaction, improved employee recruitment and retention, improved employee engagement and reduced worker’s compensation costs.

Healthy eating can significantly impact an employee’s ability to do their job effectively by, for example, improving their ability to concentrate. Nutrition programs educate employees about food choices and equip them to make healthier food and drink choices.


Source: Healthy Workplace Guide, 10 steps to implementing a workplace health program. Second edition. 2016. Heart Foundation, Cancer Council NSW and the Physical Activity, Nutrition & Obesity Research Group (PANORG) from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney.

Health and wellbeing programs save employers money

There is increasing evidence that successful health and wellbeing programs provide an excellent return on investment. For instance, one meta-evaluation looking at economic return of worksite health promotion programs found on average programs:

  • decrease sick leave absenteeism by 25.3%
  • decrease workers compensation costs by 40.7%
  • decrease disability management costs by 24.2%; and
  • save $5.81 for every $1 invested in employee health and wellbeing

Quick Facts:

  • 96% of ‘Best Practice’ Australian organisations implemented health and wellbeing initiatives during the last 12 months.
  • Organisations that don’t promote health and wellness are four times more likely to lose talent in the next 12 months.
  • Research indicates that in organisations where workplace health is managed well, financial performance increased by more than 2.5 times.

Source: The Health & Productivity Institute of Australia (HAPIA), Best-Practice Guidelines: Workplace Health in Australia.

Healthy = Effective

The report Medibank Private 2005 The health of Australia’s workforce revealed the healthiest employees are almost three times more effective than the least healthy, with the healthiest employees working approximately 143 effective hours per month compared to 49 effective hours per month by the least healthy.

The survey found that in relation to Australian workers:

  • 10 per cent are completely inactive
  • 40 per cent do minimal exercise
  • 46 per cent live on high fat diets
  • 62 per cent are overweight and of these, 28 per cent are obese
  • 53 per cent felt overwhelmed with stress and pressure for a significant proportion of the time
  • 56 per cent are participating in risky behaviours (including smoking, drinking and lack of sun protection) at medium to high-risk levels
  • Over 50 per cent do not get enough sleep
  • 21 per cent had suffered from a medical condition in the three months preceding the survey

The Medibank Private report further analysed the survey results to conclude that:

  • Employees with poor overall health status take up to nine times more sick leave than their healthy colleagues.
  • Healthy employees are nearly three times more productive than employees with poor health.
  • The financial cost of poor health and wellbeing is estimated at over $7 billion per year, nationally.

Source: Medibank Private 2005, The health of Australia’s workforce

Engaged teams

Global research has found that when employee health and wellness is managed well the percentage of engaged employees increases from 7% to 55%. This research also found self-reported creativity and innovation increases from 20% to 72%.

Demonstrating a sense of corporate social responsibility can also improve the organisation’s image with the public and can help an organisation become an “employer of choice”.

Source: Australian Government, Comcare. Benefits to Business: The Evidence for Investing in Worker Health and Wellbeing