1 in 3 workers ‘don’t have time’ to be ill at work, despite health concerns

Healthcare | Reports | Surveys

More than a third of British workers say they are too strapped for time to succumb to illness and take time off work, new research has found.

Data released by Aetna International, a leading global health benefits provider, says 35% of UK employees ‘don’t have time to be ill at work’ – even though many have concerns over their health.

The findings are revealed in a new Business Of Health 2020 report – entitled ‘How organisations can overcome employee health inertia’ – which examined the experiences of 4,026 respondents across the globe, including 1,012 in the UK.

The report examines workers’ attitudes to health issues, how often they seek medical advice, where they seek it from and which health problems cause the most concern.

Findings indicate that health inertia is compounded by working practices in the UK, with a fifth (20%) citing lack of time-off from work as the main reason for their inertia.

Additionally, 41% are still struggling to talk about mental health issues at work, whilst 30% find it difficult to discuss physical problems.

The report shows more than a third (37%) of UK workers are concerned about their long-term health but admit they haven’t had a health check in the last year.

However, nearly half (42%) say the ability to take time off work to go to the doctor would encourage them to go.

Despite this apparent inertia, results also revealed most British respondents are conscious of their health, as 97% admit to thinking about their health at least some of the time.

A large number are also aware of the impact lifestyle can have on health, with two thirds (66%) admitting they need to increase their fitness and exercise, and over half (52%) agreeing their diet needs improvement.

Yet many reported having have no idea about simple indicators of health, such as cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Two in five (40%) say they would not visit a doctor for a health check unless they felt ill and a fifth (21%) admit they fear check-ups. Perhaps as a result, of the four markets surveyed (UK, US, Singapore and United Arab Emirates) British respondents were found to be less aware of basic personal health indicators that could assist in improving health.

Dr Mitesh Patel, Medical Director at Aetna International, said: “When it comes to health, ignorance is not bliss.

“Going for regular health checks is an important step to becoming aware of one’s own health status and is the first stage to adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours, which in turn keeps illness at bay, saving money and time down the line.”

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