Employee health. Are they getting sick at home or at work?

With many people working longer hours and in some cases more than one job, the development of chronic diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and psychological illness may have its origins in the workplace.

Research has found that workers who are regularly exposed to hazardous working conditions, physically demanding tasks, high levels of stress and long working hours are more likely to consume risky levels of alcohol, reduce their level of physical activity to low, increase their likelihood of smoking and make poor nutritional choices. These habits can put strain on their overall health leading to an increased risk in chronic diseases and injuries on the job.

While these lifestyle choices may also be caused by outside factors (such as family or financial strain), the bottom line is that it impacts the employee, co-workers, workplace safety, workplace culture and business outcomes.

Could the health of your workforce be impacting your bottom line?

  • Healthier workers are almost three times more productive than their unhealthy counterparts.
  • On average, work related psychological injuries have longer recovery times, higher costs, and require more time away from work (almost four times higher than other injuries).
  • Any employees who are carrying excess weight and engaging in low levels of physical activity are more likely to be less productive and take more sick leave.


As you can see from the facts above, the health and wellbeing of your workforce can have a significant and very direct impact on productivity. While you can’t stop people getting sick, you can help them address health concerns when needed and implement healthy actions at work.  

Using the workplace as a setting for health promotion and education is a great way to help your employees lower their risk profiles for overall physical health as well as mental wellbeing. These types of initiatives also show your employees that they are valued and cared about which goes a long way.


Health by Design have a range of services, resources and programs that can help show employees the link between their actions at home, behaviours adopted at work and the risk of disease or injury due to those combined habits. Talk to us today about your workplace concerns.

A small habit with big impact – enjoy more fruit and vegetables.

We all know that we should be eating more plant-based foods and less processed options, but it’s easy to dismiss the idea by convincing ourselves that we are just too busy. However, good health doesn’t have to be time consuming (or cost a lot of money).

When it comes to what you eat, studies by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have confirmed that frozen fruit and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh. This means minimal waste, the capacity to eat produce out of season and, in some cases, you will actually be eating foods that contain more antioxidants and vitamins compared to fresh options.

When it comes to how much you eat, increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables by just 50g (e.g., half a piece of fruit or 2/3 cup of veggies) a day is associated with a 20% reduction in cancer risk. Could you add this amount of fruit and vegetable to your daily food intake?

Read on to find out more about the power of fruit and vegetables.

Other benefits can you expect from boosting your fruit and veg intake:

  • Breathe easier. Eating five or more serves each day reduces your risk of lung disease by 35%.
  • Live longer. Eating just one-two pieces of fruit each day can reduce your risk of stroke by 40%.
  • Protect your mental wellbeing. Those who enjoy a Mediterranean diet have a 33% lower risk of developing depression in the future.
  • Boost your overall wellbeing. The fibre in fruit and vegetables keeps your bowel movements regular, assists in lowering cholesterol, regulates blood sugar levels and helps you feel fuller for longer. This all helps to you feeling healthier, losing weight and eating less unhealthy food.
  • Lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. Eating a diet high in plant foods and low in animal foods is associated with a 20% lower risk of diabetes.

So now we know why we should eat more, how do we do it?

An easy way to get a good variety of fruit and vegetables is to think of colour. Eating all the colours of the rainbow will give you a great mix of all the vitamins, minerals, fibre and plant nutrients (called phytochemicals) needed for good health.  The more colours you eat, the healthier you will be!

In addition, try these tips to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into your daily meals:

  • Add fruit to your breakfast cereal or include avocado or tomato with eggs.
  • Swap cheese and crackers for dip and vegetable sticks (e.g., carrot, capsicum, celery).
  • Add a side of salad to your lunch and dinner.
  • Have a piece of fruit for a snack instead of something processed (e.g., chocolate, potato chips).
  • Meal plan for the week ahead and do a food shop accordingly so you have everything you need for the meals.
  • Keep chopped vegetables in the fridge so they are ready to be added to meals.
  • Add grated carrot or zucchini to sauces (e.g., spaghetti bolognaise or lasagna sauce).


While you can’t force your employees to change what they eat, you can provide them with education about making healthier food choices. We take the hard work out of this task! Contact us today and we can work together to make a difference in the lives of your staff.

Maintaining optimism to achieve your goals.

Now that we’re about a week past what many behavioural scientists have dubbed ‘quitting day’ (that is, about two weeks into the new year, by which time a disastrously high proportion of people have abandoned their new year’s resolutions) it’s a good time to discuss the power of a positive outlook.

We all know that having a positive outlook is important for achieving success and happiness. However, blind optimism can sometimes do more harm than good.

That’s where the concept of realistic optimism comes into play. Realistic optimism involves having a positive outlook while also acknowledging and preparing for potential challenges. It is having the courage to start something new and knowing failure could be a possibility.

To quote Eleanor Roosevelt “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

When it comes to health and wellness, realistic optimism can be a powerful tool.

By approaching our health journey with realistic optimism, we can stay positive while also taking proactive steps to overcome any challenges that may arise.

Here are some tips for incorporating realistic optimism into your health and wellness routine:

  1. Seek realistic change: Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve is important, but it’s equally important to set lifestyle changes that are realistic and most importantly, achievable. This will help you stay motivated and avoid feeling discouraged if you don’t see any results. For example, if you want to lose weight, set a number that’s achievable for your body type and lifestyle. Trying to lose 10 kilos in a week is not realistic and undoubtedly sets you up for failure. Instead, aim to lose 500g first, and then build from there.
  2. Focus on the positives: Focusing on the things that you can control and celebrating your progress along the way can help you maintain an optimistic outlook and stay motivated. Small wins are still wins. If you’re trying to incorporate more exercise into your routine, celebrate small victories like walking an extra block, parking your car further or stretching before you start your day. Don’t focus on feeling down when you miss more formal exercise opportunities, instead understand that every step forward is progress towards a more active lifestyle and should be celebrated.
  3. Prepare for challenges with a growth mindset: Acknowledge that setbacks and obstacles are likely to happen, a normal part of the process and also a learning opportunity. When you encounter a challenge, don’t give up. Instead, think about how you can overcome it or what you can learn from it so that it doesn’t prevent you from staying on track towards reaching your goals. For example, if you get sick and have low energy to exercise, don’t throw in the towel. Instead, focus on another part of your health, like hydrating a little more, getting good restorative rest, or adding in fresh foods loaded with vitamins and minerals so that you can recover well and get back on track.

By incorporating principles from this mindset into your daily routine, you can view health improvement (or any goals you are working towards) as a progressive journey rather than a series of chores that lead to an outcome. This perspective can help you to stay motivated and adapt to challenges as you work towards your health and wellbeing improvements.


Written by Karla Fruichantie – HBD International