International health benefits provider, Aetna International, recently surveyed 4,000 office-based employees in the UK, the U.S., Singapore and the UAE to investigate the motivations and self-imposed barriers to prioritising and investing in their health and wellness.

As part of the report titled ‘Business of health 2020: How organisations can overcome employee health inertia’, respondents were asked about stress and mental health in the workplace. The survey found that:

  • Almost half (47%) of those surveyed often feel stressed because of work, but don’t see a health care professional about these issues
  • 45% of employees find it difficult to talk about mental health issues at work

Respondents were also asked about their long-term health, how often they have general health check-ups, and which areas of their health they find most concerning. The survey revealed that:

  • 40% of employees are worried about their long-term health but haven’t had a health check in the last year
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) are worried about their health but are too scared to have a health check
  • Another quarter (23%) don’t have time to go for regular health check-ups
  • 21% of employees can’t get time off work to have a health check

Interestingly, nearly half (46%) say the ability to take time off work to see a health care professional would encourage them to make an appointment.

The survey also found that fitness level is the top health concern, with almost three quarters of employees (72%) saying that they need to exercise more. Adding to this:

  • More than half of office workers (55%) admit their diet needs improvement
  • More than half of employees (53%) feel that they do not get enough sleep
  • A third of employees (37%) say they need to lose weight

Regional differences

The report also discovered some interesting regional differences. For example, when it comes to discussing mental health in the workplace, 50% of employees in Singapore and 49% in the UAE find it difficult (higher than the global average of 45%).

In contrast, only 41% of those in the UK and 42% of those in the US find it difficult to talk about mental health at work (lower than the global average of 45%).

Adding to this, more people in the UAE (50%) and Singapore (49%) admit to feeling stressed because of work compared to only 45% of employees in the UK and 46% of workers in the US.

Dr Sneh Khemka, President, Population Health & vHealth, Aetna International, comments:

“While the majority of workers are aware they need to do more to improve their health, fear and worry is causing a huge number to avoid the situation. More should be done to empower people to manage their own health, with a focus on changing company cultures to promote prevention and early intervention. It is not only the responsibility of the employee but that of the employer to ensure people are equipped to lead healthy lives.”

The findings provide valuable insight into how employees in these countries regard health issues, how often they seek medical advice, where they seek advice, and which areas of their health they find most concerning. The report also provides beneficial health psychology insights paired with practical solution-oriented guidance for employers, to help enhance the likelihood of employee participation in health and wellness programmes.

Whether your business wants to promote holistic health and wellness support, help employees prevent disease and ill-health, offer sick care or aid the management of existing conditions, this report is relevant to you and your company.

Get the full report here.