Are your workers wasting 67 days a year?

by Nicola Middlemiss04 Dec 2017
A new survey has left many employers shocked after it claimed Malaysian employees lose 67 days a year to absenteeism and presenteeism caused by poor health and fitness.

The survey, conducted by research agency RAND Europe, estimated that the average yearly cost of health-related absenteeism and presenteeism per organisation is around RM2.7 million.

“Malaysia’s workforce is generally unhealthy, where 64 per cent of those surveyed are physically inactive, 90 per cent do not eat balanced diet and 53 per cent experience work-related stress,” said Dr Christian van Stolk, vice president of RAND Europe.

Van Stolk also suggested that presenteeism had become a more prevalent problem thanks to over-prescriptive policies against absenteeism and increasing responsibilities in the workplace.

“Research studies have shown that presenteeism can be linked to workplace policies which have been put in place to manage absenteeism,” he said.

“Job demands also come into play, with heavy workloads, understaffing, overtime and looming deadlines all motivate people to work, even though they are in less than optimal health.”

The study, which was conducted in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia, revealed that Malaysian employees carried more health risks compared to their international peers.

“This was driven by behaviours and factors such as poor nutrition, physical inactivity, long hours spent at work, a lack of sleep and stress observed,” explained van Stolk.

“Malaysia showed the highest percentage of employees who slept less than seven hours a night at 56 per cent and 90 per cent of those surveyed do not eat a balanced diet,” he added.

Malaysian workers also worked the longest hours a week compared to their peers in the three countries, at an average of 15 hours above their contracted hours each week.

Fifty-three per cent of Malaysian employees also reported at least one dimension of work-related stress with 12 percent of employees experiencing high levels of anxiety or depressive symptoms.

Workers also reported incidences of bullying in the workplace with 18 per cent of employees exposed to bullying at work and four per cent reporting that they’re bullied “often or always”.

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