AIA Australia, the big insurer, is building a valuable picture of the health of Australia’s workplaces, in terms of their impact on employees, through its annual ‘Australia’s Healthiest Workplace’ survey, which is currently underway. Companies with 20 or more employees – both clients and non-clients – have until May 30 to register.
The initiative, launched last year, aims to give employers insights to improve the health and wellbeing of employees. The results of the first survey in 2017, for instance, showed that 54 per cent of employees in Australia are subject to at least one dimension of work-related stress. And the number of productive days lost, due to absenteeism or ‘presenteeism’ is 43.7 a year, which equates to an estimated loss of about $10 million a year per employer group. ‘Presenteeism’ is where the employee turns up for work but is not really engaged and has low productivity due to health-related issues.
The survey, which is also conducted in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, allows each employer group to assess its own position and see the aggregate results across the surveyed universe through an ‘Organisational Report’ provided by AIA. This includes the finding from both employers and employees. This year, employees have until June 29 to give their responses once their employer has registered beforehand.
According to Stephanie Phillips, AIA’s Chief Group Insurance Officer, AIA adopts an ‘holistic’ approach to health in general, including mental health.
“We help employers to gauge how well they are going… Down the track, we will be able to provide a full picture for benchmarking. We will be measuring sleep patterns, financial concerns, and other health matters,” she says.
Mental health issues represent the third-largest area for claims after cancer and musculoskeletal problems. But mental health is growing rapidly as a problem. Mental health claims have risen from 9 per cent of total claims in 2011 to 13 per cent in 2017, Phillips says.
AIA has also recently partnered with a specialist organisation called Pain Revolution which runs a community-based educational program to assist people who suffer from chronic pain. The company sources the work of Professor Lorimer Moseley, of the University of South Australia.
Like many health issues, if you have chronic pain, for whatever reason, you will tend to develop a mental health problem as a secondary condition.
The statistics show that chronic pain tends to set in around three months into a claim process. If someone can actively intervene before then, the chances of a fast recovery are enhanced. That’s what AIA’s holistic program is all about.
Stephanie Phillips says that early intervention is the key to success in rehabilitation. For instance, after 20 days off work for any reason, the employee has a 70 per cent chance of returning. If he or she is off work for 70 days or more, that chance is reduced to only 35 per cent.
Phillips says: “Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that reduces quality of life and renders many sufferers incapable of working for long periods of time.”
AIA Australia aims to provide early intervention through a range of services to assist in addressing people’s health issues – both physical and mental – which is good for both the individual and society. The payoff for AIA, of course, is to reduce both the incidence of claims and the duration of benefits paid. It is a rare win win win situation.
- For more information and to register to participate in Australia’s Healthiest Workplace survey go to: healthiestworkplace.aia.com
AIA Australia is a major sponsor of the upcoming Chant West Super Fund Awards, taking place at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney on May 23. For information go to: www.chantwestawards.com.au