Top 4 Health Issues Affecting Employees in Ireland

Dooley Insurance Group Newsletter
January 29, 2013
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Dooley Insurance Group Newsletter
January 29, 2013
Women are bearing the financial brunt of the Gender Directive…….
March 19, 2014

Top 4 Health Issues Affecting Employees in Ireland

A survey published today by Aviva Health Insurance shows that 90% of Irish employers say that employee health and wellbeing have a direct effect on productivity. The finding is contained in the Aviva Workplace Health Index which provides a comprehensive analysis of the health and wellbeing of employers and employees in Irish business.

 The Aviva Workplace Health Index shows that 64% of employers are feeling positive about their work environment with ICT sector employees (61%) being the most positive.  Almost three quarters of employees say a pressurized environment has now become the norm.  The top four health problems experienced in the workplace were stress and anxiety (55%), fatigue (52%), back and neck pain (32%) and colds (32%). (i) Almost half of employees (44%) say they have been contacted by their bosses while on holiday or sick leave.

Launching the Aviva Workplace Health Index, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said: “When I go into boardrooms across the world seeking to attract new foreign investment to Ireland, the quality of our workforce is a key advantage that we have. As we seek to attract new companies and new jobs to Ireland, and as we seek to grow Irish companies, the health and we l-being of workers is of major importance. Today’s report by Aviva Health is a significant addition to our understanding of these issues as we seek to develop and implement new policies through the Action Plan for Jobs to create the sustainable jobs we need”.

At the launch of the Aviva Workplace Health Index, Professor Ciaran O’Boyle, a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Institute of Leadership at the Royal Co lege of Surgeons of Ireland said, “This research gives us an insight into we lness economics and  the reality of working life today.  Apart from the cha lenge of rea ly tough trading conditions, the lines between work and time off have become blurred by technology. The cha lenge for business organizations in this always-on environment is to be aware of the pressure it puts on their workforce and ultimately on their business performance.”

The research found that 70% of employers said they need employees to work harder than ever before rising to 85% in smaller SME’s. Two thirds of employees said they work over and above what they are paid for, at least once a week with almost half (49%) reporting they regularly work late twice a week or more. Over half of a l employees said they regularly work through their lunch-break. (i)

The Index found that increased fatigue and physical health problems has resulted in the phenomenon known as presenteeism, which has become a key management challenge for over a third of Irish organisations. (i) Presenteeism is the phenomenon of employees and managers coming to work while ill and being unable to function properly.  This is likely to have a negative impact on productivity and morale.

“Researchers have found that presenteeism can cut individual productivity by one-third or more. This has a negative impact on the effectiveness of organisations and the we lbeing of the workforce. Presenteeism, unlike absenteeism, is difficult to detect,” according to Professor O’Boyle.

“Clearly, the management challenge is to increase productivity without compromising the wellbeing of the workforce. Chronic stress impairs both physical and mental health and is an increasing phenomenon in today’s fast paced organizations. The leadership cha lenge is to foster resilience in the workforce in order to create organizations that can respond to cha lenge without diminishing the we lbeing of employees”, continued Professor O’Boyle.

According to the Index, the vast majority (80%) of employers feel they have a duty of care to keep staff healthy and productive, and that workplace health initiatives have many benefits such as attracting and retaining talent, increasing loyalty and reducing absenteeism. (i) The survey reveals 80% of employees agree that they would more loyal to an employer if they looked after their health.  However, many organisations (73%) often lack the required resources to run sufficient health and wellness projects to look after their intellectual capital – their biggest asset. (i)

Commenting on the findings of the Index, Dr Ian Callanan, Medical Director of Aviva Health Insurance said, “The Index has identified the top four health issues in the workplace. This valuable information a lows business organizations to target scarce resources on screening and prevention measures to address these health issues for the benefit of their employees and their productivity.  The top health issue according to the Aviva Workplace Health Index is stress. Continual stress takes a to l on the body both physica ly and emotiona ly, so building resilience capability is key.”

Dr Ian Ca lanan continued, “Savvy employers understand that the health issues affecting individual employees impact on their organization, and there is a clear desire among employees for employer-driven health and

wellness initiatives, and a belief they would ultimately benefit the organisation. No matter what your sector, size of business or location, there are things you can do to improve the health and we l being of your employees. Aviva Health is committed to working in partnership with HR and business leaders to deliver proactive health solutions as part of our wellness offering, and we understand that organizations big and small, are trying to achieve more with less.”


About the Aviva Workplace Health Index

The Aviva Workplace Health Index is a comprehensive study of employee health and we l being in Ireland’s workforce that provides incisive commentary on the pressing issues in Irish workplaces. The research was carried out by leading research company Behaviour and Attitudes in April 2013. It included 350 business managers/owners and a sample of 463 employees in Ireland. Both sample sizes are nationally representative.


Professor Ciarán O’Boyle DipTheol, DipOL (Oxon.), BSc, PhD, AFBPS.

Based at the Royal Co lege of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Professor Ciaran O’Boyle is a Professor of Psychology and Head of the RCSI Institute of Leadership. He holds a BSc in psychology and pharmacology and a PhD degree, both from UCD, as we l as a Diploma in Theology from the Mi ltown Institute and Diploma in Organisational Leadership from the University of Oxford. His major research areas include stress management; human factors; personal effectiveness; leadership; quality of working life; and work/life balance.


Dr Ian Callanan, Medical Director, Aviva Health Insurance MB FRCSI MBA

Ian Ca lanan is Medical Director at Aviva Health Insurance Ireland, and Group Clinical Audit Facilitator, St Vincent’s Healthcare Group. He is a member of the Medical Council’s Professional Competence Committee. Dr Ca lanan has acted as National Lead for Clinical Audit within the HSE. A former HIQA board member,

he chaired the tripartite review of the STARSWeb system on its behalf. He is a past president of the Irish Society for Quality and Safety in Healthcare and was an executive board member of the European Society for Quality in Healthcare. Co-editor of the International Journal of Healthcare Quality Assurance, he is anexternal member of the governance board for the Office for Clinical Indicators, Aarhus, Denmark

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