Balancing the scales - Part 1

15 May 2019 Jonathan Faurie

Establishing a good work life balance is something that certain countries, and people, are better at than others. Technology is not helping this problem.  

Try and get hold of someone who works in France on the weekend… you will have better luck trying to get them to parlez vous anglaise. In fact, the French government has just passed a law which makes it illegal to contact staff outside of business hours. 

Can we just take a step back and appreciate how hard this is in a world where technology brings work to your fingertips? In the past, if the office phone rang and nobody was there to answer it, the call had to wait until Monday; now, mobile phones mean that you can run but you cannot hide.  

An article on points out that this is becoming a serious problem.   

Key research  
The article pointed out that global health service company Cigna Corporation’s latest global 2019 Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey – "Well and Beyond" has found that 64% of people around the world work in an 'always on' culture, which causes stress and adversely affects both physical and mental well-being.  

The Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey, now in its fifth year, examines people's perceptions of well-being across five key pillars - physical, family, social, financial and work. The survey was conducted online in 23 countries and jurisdictions around the world.  

The article added that respondents have cited a decline in their physical health as a result of not having enough sleep and exercise.  

Most respondents feel that employers are not addressing wellness concerns sufficiently and often have a one-size-fits-all mindset when it comes to stress management and workplace wellness programmes.  

Jason Sadler, President, Cigna International Markets, told "There is a real need to resolve the always on culture before it escalates further as it is negatively affecting the global workforce. We want to equip employers with the knowledge and practical know-how to both support business productivity and wellness in the workplace.   

“With the data from this survey and other research projects, Cigna can help improve the health, well-being and peace of mind of the people we serve. The addition of new health-related topics, such as women's wellness and heart health, makes this our most comprehensive survey to date," said Sadler.   

Pressed on both ends 
The article pointed out that the survey found that the sandwich generation, those between the age of 35 and 49, hold an increasingly negative outlook on their well-being as they are often caring for both ageing parents as well as young families.  

Given this generation is the core talent group driving business, their well-being impacts economies and society overall.  

Wellness needs more work 
The article added that stress was identified as a key health problem in previous surveys and is still the pivotal issue, with 84% saying they are stressed and 13% saying they are unable to cope with their stress.   

Respondents perceive a lack of employer support. Of the 46% who received stress management support from their employer, only 28% felt it was adequate. Two-fifths (38%) of respondents said that no stress management support was provided at all.  

Working women seek tailored programmes 
The article pointed out that 61% of working women feel that workplace wellness programmes need to better address their needs. Half of the women surveyed feel that senior management are not serious about workplace wellness.   

Working women seek accessible, clear-cut and comprehensive programmes that will encourage participation, allow flexibility, give a sense of security, and offer measures to counter stress.  

While stress is a problem for both men and women, our study reveals that working women are, on average, more stressed than working men.  

Preparing for old age 
The article added that half of the respondents to the surveyare prepared for older age, with those holding insurance policies and living in emerging markets feeling more financially optimistic.  

For many over the age of 60, they see working as a way of staying mentally sharp, physically active and sharing their knowledge through mentorship.   

This contrasts with younger people who believe they will be working only for financial reasons as they age. There is a perception that companies are unwilling to hire older adults and unable to provide adequate support.  

Understanding heart health 
The article pointed out that, for the first time, the survey looked at the issue of heart disease. The survey reveals that there is moderate understanding of Body Mass Index (BMI) and blood pressure, yet a disparity exists between knowledge and active heart health management.   

While the majority agree that a lifestyle change is a prerequisite to good heart health, one in six people have taken no action to address a possible symptom of heart disease.  

Virtual health services becoming more accepted 
The article added that virtual health services – via telephone and online - offer convenience, accessibility and affordability. The survey found that there is a growing acceptance of virtual health, with 59% willing to consider it for consultation and diagnosis. However, only one in five respondents fully understand its benefits.   

Each year, the survey tracks a global well-being index which measures the overall health and well-being of respondents. This year's index remained largely steady at 62.0 points, closer to 2017 levels, with a marginal improvement from 2018's decline.  

Countries such as India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia showed the strongest improvement in overall wellness with a rise of between 2.1 and 4.4 points, while six markets fell. The heaviest drop was in New Zealand, followed by Taiwan and Singapore. 


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