The issue of weight remains a largely taboo subject.
Paul Avis comments that whilst weight is thought of as a personal issue, rather than a personnel issue, it is a serious issue for the workplace.
Sensitivity is needed but the culture of workplaces, long working hours, sedentary lifestyles, poor food options in the workplace all have an effect on weight and can be tackled proactively by employers.
Health at work is more than fulfilling health and safety requirements, with employers having a duty of care towards their staff’s health and wellbeing.
Research carried out by Canada Life found that 2 in 5 workers said that they had gained weight as a direct result of their job, or had found it more difficult to maintain their weight since starting their current role.
It’s not just spending time sat down that contributes to weight gain.
Our staff survey carried out in several workplaces shows that a third of staff don’t regularly eat breakfast, and almost 60% use vending machines or snack on unhealthy food items more than once a week.
How to address weight issues in the workplace
You can address weight issues in the workplace by:
- reducing the stress. To tackle the root of overeating and poor food choices for many employees, an EAP can help detect overworking and increased stress early before your workforce reaches for fast (food) solutions
- offering healthy options - A healthy canteen can nudge employees into making healthier meal choices as a more convenient option to going out for fast food. Swap the team biscuits for a fruit bowl
- having different initiatives - Instead of (or with) regular pub nights, a lunch–time cycle or running club can foster employee wellbeing by helping community spirit and waistlines
- introducing cheaper options such as company-subsidised gym membership, a cycle to work schemes, or starting a workplace lunch time walk. Ask staff what would interest them, someone may have a passion they can share with colleagues
- communicating subsidised plans in place and making sure that employees know about them and how to access them
- running a healthy way course. You can host a healthy way course in your workplace or signpost staff to weight management groups running locally