By Emma Marshall – Program Coordinator, Healthier Workplace WA

Australians spend nearly more than one third of their day at work. Have you ever stopped to think about the role the workplace can play in promoting, or stopping, their employees to reach their optimum health and wellbeing?

Research tells us healthier employees are three times more productive than unhealthy employees. Unhealthy employees take up to nine times the amount of sick leave in comparison to healthy employees. Research also tells us workplaces who don’t promote health and wellbeing are four times more likely to lose staff within 12 months than those who do.

The workplace is an ideal setting to address employee health and wellbeing. Creating and maintaining a healthy environment is a vital investment for all businesses, including those within the property development industry. Research also shows the return on investment for employee wellbeing is $1.40 to $4.70 for every $1 spent (over 3 years). After all, a healthy worker is likely to be more productive, be engaged in their work, have higher levels of energy and concentration and take less sick leave.

Healthier Workplace WA (HWWA) has been running in Western Australia since 2013 to support workplaces to implement successful workplace health and wellbeing programs that assist their employees to make positive lifestyle changes.

For the past five years, HWWA has been working with Urban Development Institute of Australia WA (UDIA WA) member McMullen Nolan Group (MNG) to support them in addressing employee health and wellbeing. This Perth-based business has shown leadership and commitment to their staff’s health and wellbeing by recently receiving Gold Recognition from HWWA’s Recognised Healthy Workplace (RHW) Program.

MNG CEO Scott Anderson told HWWA that MNG works hard to deliver health, wellness and fitness programs to employees who are office based as well as out in the field, which isn’t a unique workforce composition in the property development industry. MNG prides itself on having staff who engage in the health and wellbeing activities provided, and gain the benefits on their individual healthy lifestyle journey.

MNG have implemented a range of initiatives and activities to not only boost employee health and wellbeing but also position MNG as an employer of choice to future employees. Some examples of their health and wellbeing activities include a Healthy Eating and Catering Policy covering the types of food served at staff morning teas and catered events and weekly delivery of fresh fruit. They have bought a sandwich press and ensure adequate kitchen facilities are available to staff to support them in preparing and storing fresh food.

When organising staff events, event organisers are conscious to provide a range of non-alcoholic options and limit alcoholic beverages where possible. MNG provide educational activities to staff around the recommended Australian drinking alcohol guidelines and the impacts of alcohol can have on the employee’s everyday life.

MNG have also encouraged staff to participate in community physical activity events, such as Corporate Triathlon, Ride to Work Day and HBF Run for a Reason, and have also made available end-of-trip facilities (such as bike racks, bike storage areas, changing room facilities and lockers) to encourage staff to be active before, during and after work.

Other healthy initiatives include sit-stand desks and open office layout to encourage office workers to be less sedentary and “stand up and walk” to talk with office colleagues. These are all fantastic examples of ways businesses can address serious lifestyle risk factors of unhealthy eating, alcohol or physical inactivity within the workplace

As mentioned, with employees spending more than a third of their waking hours at work, making just small changes to the workplace environment can have a big impact, not only on an employee’s health but on workplace culture.

Read more about the activities implemented at MNG and the steps they took when embarking on employee health and wellbeing here.

For more information about how to get started and introduce an employee health and wellbeing program at your workplace, please visit the Healthier Workplace WA website. You may also be interested in working out how much your business might save if you were to introduce a workplace health and wellbeing program with HWWA’s free, online calculator.