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Malaysia Faces High Loss of Productivity Due to Health-related Absenteeism or Presenteeism: Survey

January 2, 2018

The state of Malaysian worker’s health has become a perennial concern among the nation. Given that most people spend their waking hours at the workplace, it is crucial for employers to understand their employees’ health and wellbeing, as well as taking measures to improve it. Unfortunately, the latest survey by RAND Europe highlighted d some real concerns related to health risks in the workplace that might lead to presenteeism.

According to the report, an overwhelming 90 percent of Malaysian employees are at nutritional risk, while the other 53 percent are at risk of mental health. They also lose 25.7 percent working hours or 67 days a year due to absenteeism or presenteeism caused by poor health, found. Entitled as 2017 Malaysia’s Healthiest Work Place by AIA Vitality, the report revealed that health-related absenteeism and presenteeism could cost an organisation around RM2.7 million per year.

From the survey involving 47 small, medium and large-sized companies across Malaysia, it is found that that Malaysian employees carried more health risks compared to their peers from Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. This was driven by several factors, such as poor nutritional balance, lack of physical activity, sleep deprivation, as well as high level of anxiety or depressive symptoms.

See: More Singaporeans Opt to Work Freelance Despite Having High-paid and Stable Job

The survey noted that 90 percent Malaysians do not eat a balanced diet, especially fruits and vegetables. Cost factor is among the barriers that stop employees from consuming a balanced diet. To address this, employers can swap office snacks for fruits or provide healthy servings with calorie tagging during meetings or briefings.

Physical inactivity is also high among Malaysian, as 64 percent employees do not do enough moderate-intensity exercise, compared with 63 percent in Asian countries and 36 percent in Australia. Given that most employees are doing sedentary jobs (sitting at desks) throughout majority of working hours, they need to make small lifestyle changes such as choosing stairs over the lift and walking out for lunch.

Additionally, the survey found that Malaysians do not get enough sleep. Studies showed that 56 percent employees sleeping less than 7 hours per night, higher than any other Asian countries and Australia. The report also revealed that 53 percent Malaysian employees are subject to at least one work-related stress factor. Thomas Wong, Chief HR Officer for AIA Malaysia said that employers can improve this condition by integrating sleep management programmes into workplace strategies and promoting education on various stress management techniques.

Read also: Japan Firms Taking Measures to Encourage Better Employee Health

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