Creating a Culture of Good Health at the Workplace - Columbia Asia Organizes Corporate Health Transformation Conference 2019

April 25, 2019

SELANGOR, April 25 ─ Employees spend 40, 50, sometimes up to or more than 60 hours a week at work. Since so much time is spent at the workplace, it is vital for employees to be fit and healthy.

Moreover, the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), especially cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, is on the rise in Malaysia. This is largely due to risk factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and excess body weight. Still, these are modifiable risk factors, proving that prevention is indeed better than cure. Columbia Asia in collaboration with PM Care has taken the initiative to start and lead the movement towards prevention in corporate healthcare in Malaysia.

Hence, with the rise of healthcare costs, many organisations in Malaysia are considering corporate wellness initiatives to promote a healthy culture at the work place; a way of life that will be integrated into business practices, from policies to activities.

According to the World Health Organization, physical activity programmes at the workplace can reduce short-term sick leaves by six to 32 per cent, healthcare costs by 20 to 55 per cent, and increase productivity by two to 52 per cent. A culture of health needs corporate values that advocate employees’ health and well-being; to create an ecosystem where everyone is conscious in making health decisions from what to order at the company’s cafeteria to what to serve during meeting breaks.

A company that supports low-cost healthy food choices, provides space for group-based physical activities and organizes health education classes are components of a successful worksite health intervention.

Among the challenges of instilling health awareness at the workplace include high costs of nutritious food (fried foods are cheaper than grilled!), limited choices, unavailability of healthy foods and bad habits such as skipping meals due to workload as well as stress-related eating.

In the last decade, Columbia Asia has regularly provided health and wellness talks and events including on-site screenings but to create a real, achievable, measurable and cost-effective health programme, a comprehensive lifestyle modification was necessary. There was a need for a more sustainable programme hence in 2016, Columbia Asia gathered a team of experts (medical practitioners, personal trainers, dieticians & psychologists) to design a program called Make-A-Difference; Lifestyle Modification and Health Intervention Program.

This programme was launched last year as a pilot project in collaboration with Malaysia’s leading GLCs. The response was extremely encouraging. That motivated Columbia Asia to further its initiatives with a more comprehensive and inclusive programme ─ the Corporate Health Transformation Program.

The first important step has been to design and develop a personalised lifestyle modification and health intervention program for its corporate clients. By working directly with corporations and their employees, Columbia Asia hopes to create a culture of health that can mitigate the rising costs of healthcare faced by individuals, companies and insurers.