How is the health of businesses or a company assessed? The often quoted ‘triple bottom line’ encompasses financial, social and environmental considerations. However, most often it is financial which really is the bottom line. How does human capital fit into how healthy a company really is?
The health of individuals within a society is a good reflection of that human capital, so there is genuine cause for concern and it may be time to reassess priorities.
The Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey, conducted by the Australian Psychological Society found 5 million Australians reported their current stress levels had an impact on their physical health. Despite this conservative number, it seems everybody is stressed and that stress is having a significant impact on people’s health. Not all stress is bad but understanding it is important.
This is especially true when considering the epidemic of preventable chronic diseases. Diseases like heart disease, cancer, over 80 autoimmune diseases, diabetes, dementia and obesity. Not to mention mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, are all on the rise, and it’s not just an ageing society.
When we are faced with a health crisis there is no better place to be than our health system. But beyond that, it has largely become a chronic disease management system, literally fed by the food industry and managed by the pharmaceutical and medical industry. It’s a great economic model, just not a very good health model. The financial and human costs are reminders of just how unsustainable it is.
Business leaders are uniquely placed to inspire, prioritise, facilitate and improve the health of the individuals that spend so much of their lives under their leadership. The trickle-down effect of a healthy work-force, the return on investment financially, socially and environmentally is far-reaching. Benefits are not just for the employees and their families, nor just the companies, but to society as a whole.
Public health messages are often confusing, contradictory and are frequently sponsored by those very industries whose business model is dependent on long term chronic disease management, rather than health and wellness. If the evidence is anything to go by things need to change. That change has to come from the ground up, empowering individuals to take control of their own health, focused on building physical, mental and emotional resilience to face the challenges of our modern world. Fulfilling potential is a worthwhile goal and an individual’s good health is central to that.
Understanding how stress has the potential to compromise immune function and promote chronic inflammation is key to dealing with the challenge of stress. A useful model is to identify five stresses; emotional, environmental, nutritional, postural and dental. They are inseparable. The final stress may surprise people, but it is the story of a hidden epidemic going on right underneath people’s noses.
As the challenges faced in today’s world become more complicated, the solutions are remarkably simple. Focusing on five pillars of health gives a simple and sustainable framework with which to take control of health. They include; sleep, breathe, nourish, movement and thought, together build that resilience.
There has never been a better opportunity for leaders to lead and effect this profound and positive change. A healthy company is a company people will want to work in, and a company people will want to work with.
If businesses are truly the foundation on which our society is built, it’s a great time for leaders to step up and lead the change so badly needed.