presenteeism employees

Younger Workers Trail Older Workers in Health, Wellbeing: Report

A new report published in Workplace Insight provides additional reasons why a well-run workplace wellness program may want to provide even more focus — and make great efforts to engage — younger workers.

The piece is titled “Staff aged 35 and under have lower levels of health and wellbeing than older workers.” And the lead sentence is direct: “Employees aged 35 and under lose the highest average amount of productive time due to absenteeism and presenteeism, are the least physically active in the workforce, have a high proportion of smokers and eat the least fruit and vegetables each day.”

The data come from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace (BHW), which was “established in 2012 in response to the fact that many UK employers are failing to adequately invest in the health and wellbeing of their staff. Health-related lost productivity is costing the UK economy an estimated £73 billion, which would reduce significantly with adequate investment in health and wellbeing.”

“Britain’s Healthiest Workplace aims to study the link between modifiable health risks and short-term productivity, develop a common understanding of what employee health and wellbeing means, and establish a common set of standards that can be applied to all industries. The survey uses a broad set of questions covering lifestyle, clinical and mental health, work engagement and productivity, and an in-depth assessment of the health and wellbeing interventions being offered by employers.”

According to Workplace Insight, “data from BHW shows that high stress levels can have major impacts on employee productivity at work, which in turn has cost implications for the employer. Almost 35 percent of 26-30 year old employees are physically inactive, completing less than 150 minutes of exercise a week, and on top of this nearly 14 percent of this age group smoke. Comparatively, the same data shows that older employees have healthier habits, with 22.5 percent of 56-60 year olds being physically inactive and only a small proportion (6.1 percent) smoking.”

Importantly, the piece highlights the concerns of presenteeism, particularly among younger workers: “This same age group also loses up to 30 days at work due to absence and underperformance due to ill-health, also known as ‘presenteeism’. This translates to workers losing more than an entire working month of productive time annually, whilst in comparison, employees aged between 56 and 60 reported up to 13 percent less financial concerns, losing on average just 19.6 days annually.”