Over the last few weeks, we’ve been gathering and analysing data relating to the general health and wellbeing of people with jobs. The goal of our research was to get a snapshot of how healthy our nation’s workforce is right now, as well as to discover how much stress can be attributed to work-related issues.
We hope this research might be helpful to your organisation in working out strategies to improve the health of your workforce, if for no other reason than overall health being closely connected to productivity.
Keep reading to find out the results of our research, complete with our conclusions on what they might mean.
Introduction And Methodology
We created and launched an online survey, and encouraged participation by giving entrants a ticket into a free prize draw. The survey we launched contained five questions. Three of the questions were linked to three key health indicators:
The other two questions asked about how often the respondent felt stressed, run-down and under the weather; and about how often these feelings were caused by work-related issues.
We understand that surveys have an unavoidable element of subjectivity, but we tried to keep things as objective as possible by using multiple choice and sliding scale questions.
We had 87 responses in total, however, the results published below are based on 82 responses. This is because the aim of this survey was to find out about the health of people with jobs, and 5 respondents marked the “I don’t work” option.
We will now look at the survey’s key findings, breaking the analysis into 5 segments based on each of the five individual questions we asked. If you’d rather skip the analysis of individual questions, you can get a breakdown of key statistics and a summary and conclusion at the end of the article.
80% of Workers are Not Getting Enough Exercise
Exercise and productivity in the workplace are closely connected. As such, the first question we asked was as follows:
Which of These Statements Best Describes Your Approach to Exercise?
We gave each respondent five options to choose from to describe their approach to exercise. Here are the results in descending order, starting with the most popular response:
– I do some regular exercise. 43/82 (52%)
– I do plenty of regular exercise. 16/82 (20%)
– I don’t do any regular exercise because I don’t have time. 16/82 (20%)
– I don’t do any regular exercise because I don’t want to. 7/82 (8%)
– Other. 0/82 (0%)
Only 20% of workers do plenty of regular exercise, and a worrying 28% do none at all. What’s more, only 8% said they don’t exercise because they don’t want to – the other 20% feel as if they don’t have enough time. If exercise is indeed linked to productivity, then maybe companies should look into initiatives that give their employees more time to do something physically active – such as an extended lunch break for hitting the gym.
The most popular option is unfortunately difficult to assess, because it is fairly ambiguous. “I do some regular exercise” could mean many things, from “I walk to the bus stop”, to “I only lift weights 5 times a week”. In order to better understand this response, I interviewed a handful of the participants face-to-face, and found that all of them described their understanding of this option to mean “I am somewhat physically active, but do not do enough exercise”. If this answer can be applied to the rest of the sample, then we suddenly learn that 80% of workers are not doing enough exercise.
We are currently working on a project to help you promote regular exercise amongst your workforce, but in the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts on how you are trying to encourage your employees to be more physically active.
37% of Workers are Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep has a big impact on performance at work. When we sleep, our body takes the time to repair itself in ways it can’t while we are active – as such, a lack of sleep can have devastating effects on how we function during the day. In our survey, we asked participants the following question:
Which of These Statements Best Describes Your Approach to Sleep?
Again, we gave each respondent five options to choose from to describe their approach to sleep. Here are the results in descending order, starting with the most popular response:
– I normally get enough sleep. 43/82 (52%)
– I don’t get enough sleep because there is too much I need/want to do. 16/82 (20%)
– I don’t get enough sleep because I find it hard to drift off. 12/82 (15%)
– I have a strict sleep regime which ensures I almost always get enough sleep. 9/82 (11%)
– Other. 2/82 (2%)
Only 11% of workers take their sleep seriously and make a conscious effort to regulate their sleeping patterns, and although another 52% claim to normally get enough sleep, this still leaves 37% of respondents who are not sleeping enough. We got two responses in the “other” category, which were both people who do not get enough sleep because of having a young child.
1 in 5 people are not getting enough sleep because they are too busy. As an employer, this is something you can your employees to work on. For example, if you’re sending you employees home with a lot of work to do before the next business day, it may be in your best interests to cut back – a better night’s sleep equals a more productive employee, and you might just find your business achieves more when its employees are well rested, even if they are not putting in as many hours.
32% of Workers Have an Unhealthy Diet
“You are what you eat”
Diet affects performance, period. If you put rubbish into your body, you’ll get rubbish results. We asked participants the following question:
Which of These Statements Best Describes Your Approach to Diet?
This time, we gave respondents six options to choose from to describe their approach to diet. Here are the results in descending order, starting with the most popular response:
– I try to watch what I eat, and feel like I have a pretty balanced diet. 50/82 (61%)
– I want to eat healthily but don’t have time. 15/82 (19%)
– I want to eat healthily but don’t know how. 6/82 (7%)
– I can’t be bothered to plan a healthy diet. 5/82 (6%)
– I follow a strict diet that ensures I’m almost always eating healthily. 4/82 (5%)
– Other. 2/82 (2%)
32% of workers say they do not eat healthily. What’s more, only 5% of workers have a strict diet plan that ensures they are always eating healthily. It’s reassuring that 61% of people seem to watch what they eat, but there is still a long way for improvement. “Other” responses were both people who say they are trying to watch what they eat unsuccessfully.
You can help workers make improvements to their diet in a number of ways. For example, you might want to consider replacing chocolate vending machines with a healthier alternative. Or you could even follow the example of lead generation software company Databowl, and provide your employees with free fresh fruit every day of the week!
44% of Workers Regularly Feel Tired, Run-Down or Under the Weather
We’ve been reading more reports recently of workers suffering from fatigue and stress due to being overworked, and we wanted to find out what the actual statistics looked like. We presented participants with a statement, and asked them to rate themselves on a sliding scale of 0 – 10, with 0 being “Strongly Disagree”, and 10 being “Strongly Agree”. Here is the statement we presented:
“I Regularly Feel Tired, Run-Down or Under the Weather”
There was a big mixture of responses, and so we are going to split results into 3 groups – here are the results:
– Agree (Score 6 – 10): 36/82 (44%)
– Neither Agree nor Disagree (Score 5): 15/82 (18%)
– Disagree (Score 0 – 5): 31/82 (38%)
As you can see, there are more people who agree with this statement than those who disagree.
90% of People Attribute Stress and Fatigue to Work-Related Issues
We wanted to know how much of the previous question was caused by work-related issues, and so we asked participants the following question:
When You Feel Tired, Run-Down or Under the Weather, How Often is it Because of Work-Related Issues (Such as Long Hours or Stressful Scenarios)?
We gave respondents six options, although one of these options was “I don’t work”, which we used to filter out the demographic that we did not want to analyse. The results of the other five options are as follows, in descending order, starting with the most popular response:
– Sometimes work-related: 28/82 (34%)
– Occasionally work-related: 18/82 (21%)
– More often than not work-related: 16/82 (20%)
– Almost always work-related: 12/82 (15%)
– Almost never work-related: 8/32 (10%)
Only 10% of people said that feeling tired, run-down or under the weather is almost never work-related – and 90% admitted that it was at least occasionally work-related. 69% of people admitted that stress was at least sometimes work-related, with 35% stating that it was at least more often than not work-related. 15% of people claimed that when they felt tired, run-down or under the weather, it was almost always work-related.
If you don’t want to read the individual summaries above, then here are the quick-fire findings from our survey. These are interesting statistics for HR professionals who are interested in building a happier, healthier and more productive workforce:
Workplace Exercise Statistics
– 20% of workers do plenty of regular exercise
– 20% of workers do not have enough time to exercise
– 8% of workers do not exercise because they do not want to
Employee Sleep Deprivation Statistics
– 20% of workers are too busy to get enough sleep
– 15% of workers miss out on sleep because they can’t drift off
– 11% of workers follow a strict sleep regime
Healthy Eating Workplace Statistics
– 19% of workers don’t have time to eat healthily
– 13% of workers don’t eat healthily because they can’t be bothered or don’t know how
– 5% of workers follow a strict healthy diet
Tiredness At Work
– 44% of workers regularly feel tired, run-down or under the weather
– 18% of workers sometimes feel tired, run-down or under the weather
– 38% of workers rarely feel tired, run-down or under the weather
– 20% of workers say tiredness and stress is more often work-related than not
– 15% of workers say tiredness and stress is almost always work-related
– 10% of workers say tiredness and stress is almost never work-related
Summary & Conclusion
This survey presents some interesting information regarding how healthy our nation’s workforce really is. It seems that around a third of all respondents suffer serious issues with sleep, exercise and/or diet, and only a small minority of workers are doing as much as they can to keep themselves healthy and physically well.
Considering that 44% of people regularly feel tired, run-down or under the weather, we can probably assume that this is – at least in part – caused by poor exercise, diet and sleep habits. When we factor in that the reasons for these poor habits are often considered to be a lack of time, and when we look at the fact that 35% of people attribute the majority of their poor wellbeing to work-related stress, we could conclude that employees are being overworked, and that this is having a negative impact on their health.
This study is not meant to be a conclusive report on the impact that long hours and stressful jobs have on health, but it does serve as a good indicator suggesting that employers could be doing more to ensure the wellbeing of their employees.
Employees who are happy and healthy tend to be more productive than those who are stressed and unwell, so even if you don’t care about the health and happiness of your workforce (you really should, by the way) then it might be good to work on improving it anyway, if for no other reason than to improve productivity and results.