Towers Watson's most recent Global Workforce Study has found Hong Kong employees to have the second poorest health among workers from seven surveyed countries in the APEC region, second only to Japan.
Towers Watson conducts the Global Workforce Study every two years. It offers detailed country-specific reports on current workforce attitudes and perceptions, with each country report presenting data and workforce culture, plus key demographic and employee outlook data cuts.
Of the 22 countries surveyed, Hong Kong fared quite poorly, with only 47 per cent of Hong Kong employees considering themselves to be in "good health", compared with a 61 per cent global average.
In addition, across 12 months, the number of absentee days taken by Hong Kong employees was significantly higher than the global average. The study also found that Hong Kong employees - compared with those from other countries - assign more responsibility for personal health and well-being to their employers and the government.
Commenting on the results, Elaine Hwang, Towers Watson's director of benefits, says there is a gap in expectations among management and workers. "What employers think and what employees want is often very different, and this makes it difficult for employers to implement an effective health programme for their employees."
Hwang adds that there has been a lot more attention on employee engagement, retention, and their general well-being in the past two years. However, she says companies still have a long way to go, particularly at the senior level. "In Hong Kong, senior leaders place too much focus on short-term results. They need to understand that wellness is not a one-day programme," she says.
Health is important to a lot of Hong Kong employees, but Hwang points out that awareness of how to deal with their health needs to be improved.
"Health programmes are not just about offering one or two days' leave. In fact, this can actually be worse. A good health programme is more about prevention and having a well-designed wellness plan in place, complete with regular health checks and health assessments. Good employers will also provide choices to suit the needs of different employees," she says.
Hwang adds that a good health programme can improve employee production, retention and engagement.
"Hong Kong is very competitive and while productivity is always high, the lifestyle is not always healthy," she says.