Unhealthy techie lifestyle costs companies dear

Physical inactivity, poor diet and substance abuse cause massive loss of productivity in the city’s IT sector, according to a study.
Last Updated 01 February 2019, 19:54 IST

Bengaluru’s IT sector loses Rs 24,000 crore annually on account of its employees’ physical inactivity, lack of emotional and mental wellbeing, and substance abuse, according to a study.

Conducted by RedSeer Consulting, the study was based on interviews with 500 employees across 10 IT companies in the city. It classified professionals into age groups and aimed to understand what they were most vulnerable to.

30-40 years

This group suffers the most due to an unhealthy lifestyle and poor physical health, the survey showed. A good 35 per cent of the IT workforce in the city falls in this age group and they are responsible for 42 per cent of the total cost due to productivity loss.

20-30 years

They constitute 50 per cent of the workforce and contribute to less than 30 per cent of the total cost due to productivity loss. The main reason for employees in this age group losing productivity is a poor diet.

Mental health

The survey has also found that substance abuse was a common problem across the board. Substance abuse here means alcohol consumption and tobacco intake.

Employees are also experiencing intense emotional and mental pressure since the Indian IT industry is battling a slowdown in foreign markets, jobs are becoming obsolete, and firms are cutting costs.

What is happening?

Dr Sheela Abraham, family physician at Apollo Medical Center, Kundalahalli, says the problems are related to the way techie work is structured.

“Hunched over laptops for over 10 hours a day and facing deadlines, client demands and supervisors’ expectations is the norm for most IT professionals today. All this has
culminated in a rapid rise of health problems, ranging from headaches, neck pain, low back pain, and sleep disorders to early onset of hypertension and diabetes,” she says.

What can be done?

The concerns can be addressed at various levels:

- Have an effective ergonomics department to help eliminate musculoskeletal problems. (Ergonomics is roughly defined as the study of people in their working environment and can be used to design or arrange workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them.)

- Encourage employees to take breaks by providing avenues for sports and physical activities.

- Make routine health checks mandatory for employees.

- Ensure healthy meals are served at every food outlet in the company.

Employees can take the initiative to be physically active rather than remain glued to their laptops or phones, Dr Sheela Abraham says.

This view is endorsed by Ujjwal Chaudhry, associate director, RedSeer Consulting. “Physical inactivity contributes to a major share of the overall productivity loss to the IT industry. Companies can partner with fitness players who can involve employees in some activities,” he says.

Estimated loss: Rs 24,000 cr

Bengaluru accounts for almost 50 billion dollars of India’s 165 billion-dollar IT industry. Losses due to poor health and lifestyle amount to nearly seven per cent of the total revenue earned by the city’s tech firms. That comes to about Rs 24,000 crore annually.

(Published 01 February 2019, 12:29 IST)

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