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Walking Research

Walking Research

Our researchers at Walk with Attitude, creators of 10,000 Steps UK, are constantly assessing the latest findings on the costs of employee healthcare and benefits of employee health promotion.

Here they bring to you a snapshot of recent statistics taken from professional journals, websites and media articles worldwide.

2012: The state of today’s workplace

The modern day workplace has hit an unprecedented crisis point. The global recession has left many companies scrambling to keep employees’ heads above water. However, countless global studies show organisations that devote time and resources to reengaging their workforce are emerging ahead of the pack.

The negative impacts of today's sedentary workforce: what are the facts?

The decline of employee mental and physical health

  • In 2010/11, 1.8 million working people in the United Kingdom were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their current or past work. Half a million of these were new conditions. The Health and Safety Executive Annual Statistics Report 2010/11, Health and Safety Executive, 2011
  • According to a study by the American Cancer Society, men who spend more than 6 hours of their daily leisure time sitting have a mortality rate 20% higher than men who sit for half that time or less. Among women who sit for 6 hours or more a day, the mortality rate doubles, Fitness: Don’t just sit there, it’s dangerous, Jill Barker, The Montreal Gazette, 16 November 2011

Employee stress and depression reach unprecedented levels

  • The key findings of the Global Mindset Index (GMI) indicate a dramatic erosion of motivation in the workplace. The GMI found that 23% of 1,071 employees surveyed across all industries were depressed. Respondents identified with five or more of the key symptoms of depression outlined by the World Health Organisation. Only 12% of the global workforce felt optimistic and just 14% found their bosses inspirational. ‘For all organisations, this degree of malcontent can only result in negative outcomes: efficiency and effectiveness will come into question, and in more serious cases, retention of key staff, particularly those with more than two years of service, will be extremely difficult,’ the report concludes. 2011: Don’t Stop Believing: Global Mindset Index, RogenSi, 2011

Increasing absenteeism results in less productivity

  • Employees with poor overall health take up to 9 times more sick leave than their healthy colleagues, research has shown. Healthy employees are nearly 3 times more productive than employees with poor health. bus Promoting Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace, ACT Occupational Health and Safety Commission, 2009

And the cost of employee health to an organisation is sky rocketing

  • A study reveals the rising cost of chronic disease, direct costs and lost productivity is affecting business’s bottom line. Productivity losses associated with employees with chronic disease are as much as 400% more costly than treating the disease itself. Losses in productivity include disability, unplanned absences, reduced workplace effectiveness, increased accidents, and negativity with regard to customer service and work quality. Working Towards Wellness: The Business Rationale, PricewaterhouseCoopers, World Economic Forum, 2008
  • For every US $1 spent on medical and pharmaceutical costs, there is US $2.30 of health-related productivity losses due to absenteeism and presenteeism. Health and Productivity as a Business Strategy, a Multiemployer Study, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine April 2009

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Studies shows wellness programs reduce absenteeism, increase productivity & create a profitable Return on Investment.

A high Return on Investment

  • In a walking study conducted by the Body-Brain Performance Institute and Swinburne University Brain Sciences Institute, employees who took 10,000 steps a day and went to the gym three times a week yielded $2,500 worth of productivity annually to a company. 10,000 Steps a Day Make a Happy and Productive Employee, Anne Witter, International Business Times, 16 September 2011
  • ‘Companies with effective health and productivity programs are more likely to have lower health care costs, lower levels of presenteeism, fewer lost days due to disabilities and lower levels of turnover relative to their industry peers,’ concluded the Staying@Work Report 2009/2010: The Health and Productivity Advantage, National Business Group on Health and Towers Watson, 2010

Improved staff morale & mental alertness

  • In a Body-Brain Performance Institute and Swinburne University Brain Sciences Institute walking study, 40 employees were tested for brain function, including the ability to plan, remember, simulate future scenarios and make decisions as well as their alertness, energy levels and levels of anger and stress. The research showed a clear link between vigorous physical activity, increased brain function and reduced stress levels at work. 10,000 Steps a Day Make a Happy and Productive Employee, Anne Witter, International Business Times, 16 September 2011

Greater productivity

  • Work health promotion programs can have positive effects on employee’s health and productivity – including more than a 20% reduction in sick leave. Research showed meaningful improvement in several key measures such as reduced emotional exhaustion and improvements in mental health. Work Health Promotion, Job Well-Being, and Sickness Absences – A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, November 2008
  • In 2008, Dow Health Services’ health and productivity program helped save more than 7,000 workdays that would have been lost to injury and illnesses. The company saved more than US$3 million in the United States alone. Adding the savings from the reversal of “lost” productivity, the total was more than US$9 million. Staying@Work Report 2009/2010: The Health and Productivity Advantage, National Business Group on Health and Towers Watson 2010

Why pedometer-based 10,000 step challenges in particular, are leading the way

  • Researchers found that the average pedometer user saw an increase of more than 2,100 steps per day when using a pedometer. They also determined that walkers were more successful if they had a goal of reaching 10,000 steps a day. Using Pedometers to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health, Journal of the American Medical Association, November 2007

What the future holds for workplace wellness  

As companies around the world seek to gain competitive advantage, they are stepping up their efforts to improve the health and productivity of their workers. A Towers Watson global survey found three out of every four companies said workplace health and promoting health and wellbeing will be more of a priority this year and next, while 87% said it will be a higher priority over the next two to four years. Employers move to implement global wellbeing strategies as health costs soar, David Woods, HR Magazine, 17 May 2011

For more statistical evidence of the impact workplace physical activity programs are having on the global employee population, please refer to the below reports.

Download Report hereStaying@Work Report 2009/2010: The Health and Productivity Advantage, National Business Group on Health and Towers Watson 2010

Download Report Here
Workers Suffer GFC Blues
, Meera Vijayan, The Australian, September 18 2010

Download Report Here

A Guide to Promoting Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace
, ACT Occupational Health and Safety Commission, 2009

To find out more about how our technology is at the forefront of these developments, please contact us.