Expert insight

Chasing Away the Monday Morning Blues

24 March 2014
  • Mario Ottiglio

Life just always seems a bit tougher on Mondays. One good way to blow away the blues is to concentrate on projects that reward you with quick wins followed by the reward of some “me time”. That’s why, when I can, I try to fit in an hour of sport instead of grabbing a longer lunch. It breaks the day and gives me a boost… and keeps the doctor away!

I was thinking about this when last week I was invited to speak at the launch of a new study on corporate healthy lifestyle programs in Moscow. Research has shown that in Russia, people place great value in their health but few take action (you might be able to apply that to many countries), with the resulting health problems that come from smoking, unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity. But there is some good news. This new study showed that employees want their companies to help them be healthy and two in three Russian companies appear to be up for the challenge, not least because a healthy workforce is a more productive one.

First study of its kind in Russia explores corporate wellness programs

The study assesses the experience in setting up and implementing corporate healthy lifestyle programs in Russian companies, identifies employee attitudes and their preferences for the programs implemented. The study was commissioned by our Russian colleagues at AIPM and ourselves at IFPMA and prepared with support of the National Research and Development Center for Preventive Medicine and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), in partnership with the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

46 state-owned and private companies representative of a range of the sectors participated, including Gazprom, Lukoil, United Breweries Heineken, IKEA, Russian Railways, Megafon, Rostelecom, to name a few.

Top line findings show employers and employees are ready to get healthy

The survey determines that two out of three employers were ready to support their employees’ health. The most common types of programs employers currently provide their employees include arranging for sports events, vaccination and hot meals. Employees unanimously welcome company programs that support sports activities, subsidies and discounts for health nutrition and health screening.

The study shows that there is significant scope to expand healthy lifestyle programs in the workplace to fully reap the benefits of a healthy workforce. It also provides a blueprint for successful programs and encourages other employers in Russia to put in place healthy lifestyle programs. After all, these programs are not only beneficial for employees; they are also in the interest of employers and have been publicly supported by World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization (ILO).

Multiplier effect as employees bring the health messages into their homes

Workers that commit to a healthy lifestyle will likely influence their families and friends and will be more receptive to government prevention campaigns, which may be the key to helping tip the balance and lead to healthier reflexes among all of us.

We have witnessed this spill over effect within the pharmaceutical industry, where more than half of the prevention programs that our companies carry out for their 1.1 million employees reach wider network of relatives.

Health across all government policy making is a force for good

Government actions in support of corporate healthy lifestyle programs can make a dent in the tragic and escalating trend of deaths and disability through NCDs. Even in the case of workplace wellness policies, a “whole-of-government” approach encompassing coordinated actions in areas other than health and at different geographical level is needed

Prevention, even through physical activity, is the best value for money in curbing NCDs. Corporate healthy lifestyle programs are yet another way to empower and help us turn the tide of apathy and change behaviours.

We all know, at a personal level that it is difficult, but if we all get behind it, there is a chance we will succeed in ultimately saving and have better lives. If you are not convinced, you can still see it as a nice escape to the Mondays’ blues!


  • Mario Ottiglio