Australia's healthiest, and unhealthiest, executives

William West/AFP/Getty Images

Analysis of the health assessments of 30,000 people has determined which industries have the healthiest executives in Australia.

According to the detailed assessments, including a full hour with a doctor and a barrage of tests, leaders from legal firms are healthiest overall but face psychological health challenges.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing executives are the least healthy.

The inaugural Executive Health Index by Executive Health Solutions compares data from pathology tests, clinical measurements and questionnaires collected during the executive health assessments.

The physical and psychological health data was gathered from executive level employees from more than 500 organisations across 20 industries.

The assessments were made using 28 health measures. The inaugural report focuses on assessments between July 2013 and June 2017.

The top three industries ranked as healthiest:

  • Legal
  • Banking
  • Professional services and consulting

However, the legal and professional services industries ranked at 12 and 14 when it came to psychological health.

The three ranked least healthy:

  • Construction and engineering
  • Transport, postal and warehousing
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing

The health assessments took place in clinics around Australia, including at St Vincent’s hospitals in Sydney and Melbourne.

Executive Health Solutions CEO John Hall says the index allows organisations to benchmark the health of their key staff.

“This provides a more meaningful comparison for organisations than national norms and enables the pinpointing of key health risk areas that may require specific attention,” he says.

“Even industries that did well overall have areas where improvements can be made, for example, legal executives ranked close to the top in all areas except psychological health.”

The group ranked lowest for overall health had an estimated productivity loss per participant of five weeks per year, about two weeks more than that of the highest ranked industry.

Sectors associated with blue-collar industries fared poorly in comparison to their white-collar counterparts, ranking lower in nearly all 28 health measures.

Blue-collar executives typically had higher risk scores for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

A variety of factors could be in play, including the work environment, the social network and access to facilities.

And the promotion of front line works to management is more common in blue-collar industries, meaning health risks or poor habits could be carried through to the executive level.

Some industries bucked this trend. The mining industry ranks second best in psychological health.

Construction executives who were working the most amount of hours (more than half working more than 60 hours), were also in the bottom three industries for exercise frequency and self-rated physical health.

Rental, hiring and real estate executives were the heaviest smokers.

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