Long working hours, increased after-hours work connectivity, and work-related stress are also factors associated with sleep problems.

KUALA LUMPUR | Slightly over half of Malaysian employees suffer from work-related stress and get fewer than seven hours’ sleep daily, according to a survey by AIA Bhd.

The life and health insurance provider’s Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace by AIA Vitality 2019 survey also showed a rise in mental health problems in Malaysian offices, as 22 per cent of employees reported facing many financial concerns, while another 20 per cent complained about workplace bullying that contributed to stress.

Almost a third, or 32 per cent, suffered from one or more chronic diseases like kidney conditions, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke or cancer.

Almost half, or 42 per cent, of employees were either overweight or obese, while a whopping 90 per cent said they did not eat a balanced diet. Sixteen per cent of employees had low or very low levels of engagement at work.

The survey highlighted that 84 per cent of employees reported at least one or more musculoskeletal conditions.

“The survey continues to highlight the prevalence of depression, anxiety, sleep insufficiency, to name a few, in our workforce which contributes to low levels of productivity in organisations,” AIA Bhd CEO Ben Ng said when commenting on the survey results released today.

“There is a clear need for employers to first, recognise that a happier and well-rested workforce is a more productive one and second, to promote interventions that don’t just focus on physical and nutritional health, but also mental wellbeing. It is our hope that Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace by AIA Vitality survey will continue to spur more positive action for the betterment of the Malaysian workforce,” he added.

According to the survey, 17 per cent of employees reported feelings of tiredness and fatigue every day, but 20 per cent couldn’t decide when to take a break.

In addition to long working hours, increased after-hours work connectivity and work-related stress are also factors associated with sleep problems, which can lead to the increasing probability of developing severe mental health conditions among employees, said AIA Bhd.

Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace by AIA Vitality 2019 survey revealed that organisations lose 73.3 days per employee due to absence from work due to health-related reasons and “presenteeism” (being at work when unwell), costing each employer RM1.46 million annually.

Almost half, or 45 per cent, of organisations do not offer any mental health interventions.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye, who attended Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace Summit 2019, said: “The responsibility of driving Malaysia towards a nation of healthy individuals continues to be at the top of the agenda for the Ministry of Health as we face sobering statistics on the state of our health – both mentally and physically.”

This is the third year that AIA is commissioning the survey, where a record total of 230 organisations of different sizes and sectors across Malaysia participated in the survey, representing a combined workforce of 17,595 employees.

The Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace survey is an independent evaluation commissioned by AIA and delivered in partnership with research agency RAND Europe and local academic advisor Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.