Monday, 23rd July 2018
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- Majority of workers in Ireland do very little exercise

- Four in ten say they need to take more care of their mental health

- Employers urged to do more in the workplace to help

New research amongst Ireland’s workforce reveals that most employees continue to take very little exercise at all, despite anecdotal evidence that exercise is on the rise. Diet is also a concern while many (44%) employees admit they need to take more care of their mental health. These are amongst the key findings of the latest employee research commissioned by Food Drink Ireland, ahead of their fourth annual National Workplace Wellbeing Day on Friday 13th April 2018. Ibec, the leading business and employer organisation, is calling on all employers in Ireland to support the day, saying that employers can do more to help.

According to the research only one in four employees exercise at the recommended levels of over 150 minutes every week, while two out of five say that they are either totally or extremely inactive during their workday. The majority accept that they need to make personal changes. Most (77%) employees point to their current level of physical activity, while many (69%) acknowledge that they need to eat more healthily. Just over half believe that they have the right work-life balance. Meanwhile there is a clear gender divide when it comes to sleep with only 46% of women saying they get enough sleep, compared to 51% of men.

Danny McCoy, Ibec’s CEO, says that the research demonstrates the positive effect that workplace wellbeing initiatives can have on employee health. "It is very encouraging to see from the research that employee uptake is strong when employers provide health facilities and services, and I would urge any employer who is not already active in this area to make a start on National Workplace Wellbeing Day. It’s a win-win for all involved. Employees will be healthier and happier, and employers will benefit from a more engaged and productive workforce, as well as a higher staff retention rate," he said.

For companies looking to expand this year, there is strong evidence that wellbeing initiatives make a difference when it comes to retaining and recruiting staff. Two-thirds (66%) of employees surveyed said that they are more likely to stay long term with an employer who is interested in their health and wellbeing, with over half saying that they would consider leaving an employer who didn’t. Meanwhile a company culture that supports employee wellbeing is an important consideration when it comes to choosing a new employer.

Glanbia, Fexco, Lucozade Suntory Ribena Ireland, The National Rehabilitation Hospital, Nestle Ireland, Peter Mark, Port of Galway and Sky Ireland are among hundreds of employers across the public and private sector that have already signed up for the campaign. On the day, they are planning a range of activities to promote better nutrition as well as physical and mental wellbeing amongst their employees.

Most employees say their inactivity during their working day is because of the nature of their job and Danny McCoy is encouraging employers to use Workplace Wellbeing Day to try out new, fun ways to promote more exercise. "The Lunchtime Mile is one of the simplest and most popular activities on Workplace Wellbeing Day and has now become a year round activity in many organisations," he said.

Almost six in ten employees (57%) say their employers are already providing some health and wellbeing support, up from five in ten (47%) when FDI first commissioned research into employee wellbeing in 2015. Healthy food choices appear to be becoming more common with one in four employees saying their employer provides them compared to nearly one in seven just three years ago. According to Workplace Wellbeing Day supporter and consultant dietician, Sarah Keogh, "over 60% of people in Ireland are classified as obese or overweight. Employers can make a difference – whether it is providing fresh fruit boxes at reception or healthy snacks at meetings, to healthier choices and portion sizes in the canteen".

The World Health Organisation maintains that the workplace is the ideal setting to promote health to a large proportion of the population, positively affecting the health of families and reaching further out into the wider community and society. This is borne out in the research. Almost half of the employees (49%) saying that having the opportunity to exercise with colleagues during work hours would motivate me to be more physically active while 45% say that the lifestyles of their work colleagues can influence their lifestyle choices.

Further details of how employers can get involved in this year’s event are available at http://www.fooddrinkireland.ie/wellbeing

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