In a recent letter, Dr Grace Chew Chye Lay suggested that companies pay more attention to the health of their employees (Workplaces should focus on healthy eating habits, May 15). We are heartened by the importance Dr Chew places on firms promoting safety and healthy living practices in the workplace.
Implementing workplace health and safety programmes makes good business sense for employers.
A healthier workforce has a lower incidence of absenteeism and higher engagement levels, leading to greater economic productivity and better employee retention.
This could also mitigate long-term healthcare costs for companies. Findings from a small-scale survey done by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) found that participating companies that implemented more structured and comprehensive health promotion programmes reported relative savings from higher productivity levels.
One way to help workers stay healthy is increasing their access to healthier food options. Since last April, the public sector, the largest employer in Singapore, has taken the lead to adopt healthier catering guidelines, ensuring that healthier food options are provided at all events and courses.
HPB has also been partnering companies, developers and building owners to create healthy workplace ecosystems to bring health programmes and healthier meals to different work clusters across Singapore. Through this approach, close to 250,000 workers across 44 such ecosystems have been reached. Within these ecosystems, healthier meal options are available at more than 250 F&B outlets including restaurants, cafes and food stalls.
At the same time, through HPB's workplace health screening programmes conducted on-site, employees who have been identified with health concerns receive regular health coaching on ways to live healthier, including adjusting their eating habits.
HPB is also partnering the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council to encourage firms to consider the interaction of work, safety and health of the workers holistically through the Total WSH approach. Measures such as providing healthier food choices at the workplace and introducing workplace wellness programmes contribute to a healthier workforce. This, in turn, can contribute to better productivity and safety outcomes at the workplace as well.
We encourage companies to leverage these programmes and take an active role in promoting the importance of both safety and health to employees. Individuals, likewise, can also take personal responsibility for their lifestyle habits and workplace practices to stay healthy and safe at work.
Sim Beng Khoon
Director, Workplace Health and Outreach Division
Health Promotion Board
Workplace Safety and Health Council