In the same way the flight attendant instructs passengers to “put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others” in case of an emergency on board a plane, so should top management take the lead and be good role models of fitness, wellness and health.
In a study conducted by insurance giant AIA Group in 2016, the Philippines remains to be one of the unhealthiest countries in Asia. On average, Filipino adults spend only 2.1 hours a week for exercise (which is below the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise). Seventy-one percent of Filipinos also eat dinner close to their bedtime. Interestingly, however, studies show that our level of health awareness increases every year, and a majority of Filipinos want to have healthier lifestyles.
One of the key findings of a research done by Sun Life of Canada (Philippines) reveals that the percentage of Filipinos concerned about their health rose from 71 in 2014 to 89 percent in 2015. Furthermore, 97 percent of the respondents stated that they were fully aware of ways to improve their health. But looking at the results of the research, the top three health problems remain to be excessive weight, obesity, and respiratory conditions.
“There has been a disconnect between what Filipinos wanted to do about their health – like exercise more and eat a more balanced diet – with what they have actually been doing. While people want to make changes in exercise, nutrition and stress management – that desire hasn’t yet been successfully translated into action,” said Riza Mantaring, CEO and President of Sun Life of Canada (Philippines).
In my own Master’s Degree research tackling the effects of nutrition knowledge on food choices among working professionals and university students, more than half of my respondents had high levels of knowledge about healthy food choices. However, despite being highly knowledgeable and fully aware, only 15 percent of them make healthy food choices. The majority of the participants still opt to go to fast food chains due to their busy lifestyles, the availability of cheap restaurants or food shops that offer delicious, but not really nutritious, food to satisfy their cravings.
In the corporate world, working long hours has long been accepted as the norm and default path. Employees have little time for exercise or time for cooking and eating proper and balanced meals. Given that lifestyle, social status, and even corporate practices affect a person’s health, I pose a challenge to top management to steer their employees toward the pursuit of health, fitness and wellness.
It is a well-known fact that companies and top management value healthy workers for several reasons:
Healthy employee = productive employee
Several studies have shown the significant relationship between health and productivity. A research from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) revealed that employees who maintain a healthy lifestyle had better job performance, proper time management and lower absenteeism.
Lower health care costs
Health care costs continue to increase, and companies try to manage such costs. Some employers give incentives or rewards to employees who keep themselves in good health.
Creating a positive image
Nicolaas Pronk, vice president for Health Management and chief science officer at Health Partners was quoted as saying: “What’s the value of people coming to work with a smile? What’s the value of having people on the phone responding to your customers in a good mood, who can solve problems because they’re there, they’re present, they’re working with attention to detail? What’s the value of individual workers working well together in teams?” This rings true for every company that values the importance of having healthy employees who exude a positive attitude, pleasant personality and exceptional performance.
People who work in a fast-paced environment filled with all sorts of anxiety, insomnia, and other health conditions, give utmost importance to being physically fit as that helps build immunity against major health risks. Studies show that physically fit individuals tend to stay in their work longer as opposed to their less active counterparts. Moreover, employers always have the urgency to know they can rely on their employees, hence the importance of reliability in the workforce.
With so many benefits to companies and top management, how come fitness and wellness do not figure prominently in the corporate strategies of most companies? HR Departments now and then have wellness programs—a dietician is invited to talk, there is a Zumba class for several sessions – but these are not sustained. Top management usually is not sufficiently focused and does not push for a more complete and inclusive wellness program. Worse, many members of top management are themselves unhealthy and unable to live balanced lifestyles.
Top management should lead the way by continuously improving their physical and overall well-being—working properly, eating right, exercising and enjoying life. People in top management have to put on their own oxygen masks first.
Hosanna Angela Jarmin is a business development senior, BPS/Outsourcing Division, P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and over 800 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to hannah. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. For more information, visit our website: www.grantthornton.com.ph.
As published in Manila Times, dated on 22 March 2017