Seasonal Influenza Outbreaks: How Much Does It Affect Malaysia’s Workforce?

Kuala Lumpur, 9th January 2020- Over the last month, there has been an increase in influenza and respiratory infection cases in Malaysia . That, coupled with the fact that Malaysians have been found to be overworked, sleep-deprived and unhealthy , has led to an increase in work-related stress and medical health conditions. In the rush to clear up work ahead of the Chinese New Year celebration, it is now more important than ever for employees to go for medical check-ups, receive necessary vaccinations and practice good hygiene habits to better enjoy the upcoming festivities with loved ones.


On that note, it is also vital that companies take the necessary steps in safeguarding their employees against illnesses and any stress-related medical conditions. After all, a happy workforce is the key driver of workplace productivity . With that being said, are companies aware of the illnesses frequently faced by employees in Malaysia?


According to a recent study conducted by HealthMetrics, there are several illnesses which befall employees more frequently than others, leaving them unable to be productive at work or preventing them from going to work altogether. The research was conducted across four industries in Malaysia – education, food and beverage, manufacturing and production, and financial services. HealthMetrics reports that the most frequently recurring illness is the flu, also known as Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI), more commonly known as flu, making up 47% of overall employee visits to the clinic.


Following the recent influenza A outbreak in Selangor resulting in a shortage of flu shots , companies should advocate for their employees to get vaccinated as soon as possible because the flu immunization is only effective when administered to people who are not already ill as it takes 2 to 3 weeks to build immunity from the vaccination. Complications from the flu also include pneumonia, myocarditis, kidney failure and death. According to HealthMetrics, timely vaccinations serve to protect companies and their employees from the direct costs of doctor visits and the risk of lowered productivity in the workplace.


“Employees are the lifeblood of an organization as they are important pillars which will determine an organization’s success, growth and sustainability. As flu season is upon us, it is important for companies to take care of their indispensable workforce through strategically crafted wellness programs,” says Chief Executive Officer, Alvin Yuan.


HealthMetrics has helped organisations predict influenza outbreaks through its in-built live data analytics dashboards which charts the health seeking behaviours of employees within the organisation. It’s data-driven crafted wellness programs include on-site flu vaccinations for employees.


Other common illnesses seen in organisations include fever, acute gastroenteritis (AGE), headaches/migraines, muscle pain/body aches, gastritis, diarrhoea, hypertension and cough. Next to the flu, the most common illness faced by employees in Malaysia is fever, making up 14% of overall employee visits to the clinic.


As the success of a company depends on its workforce, HealthMetrics sees the need for all HR teams to be aware of the illnesses frequently faced by employees in Malaysia. This allows companies to ensure the well-being of their employees, in and out of the office, through unique corporate healthcare benefits plans, thus ensuring maximum employee satisfaction. In the long term, employee satisfaction will lead to increased productivity within a cohesive corporate community, ultimately resulting in optimal organizational growth and sustainability.


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