The Importance and Benefits of Employee Health for Companies
In recent years, obesity and overweight became a prominent problem. According to the 2018 World Health Organisation report, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight and 650 million were obese in 2016. Lack of physical exercise and poor dietary choices contribute to this growing epidemic affecting not only adults but also a notable amount of children, of which 340 million were obese or overweight in 2016. Obesity and overweight should not be overlooked and action must be taken since it increases the risk of developing serious diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart conditions, which can significantly impair one’s quality of life.
While there are many reasons and factors that can contribute to the growing obesity and overweight problem, our modern lifestyle seems to be the leading cause. The rise of obesity and overweight rates around the world are widely associated with changes in economic, cultural and social environment. New technologies, modes of transportation and common sedentary work practices all strongly affect one’s well-being and everyday habits. Since many people nowadays have sedentary jobs which involve sitting in offices most of the time, not only they do not get enough physical exercise throughout the day, it is also extremely common for many to just not have time or energy to work out or prepare a wholesome meal after a busy day at work. Instead, people often choose to relax and eat processed, already-made food that does not require much time or effort. The importance of time consumption could also be a key factor in choosing modes of transportation. The availability of cars and buses make the trip to work or school quick and easy, meanwhile walking or cycling may seem tiresome and time-consuming to some.
It might appear that obesity and overweight only does harm to the individual, but in fact, it is important to emphasise that health conditions can significantly affect one’s productivity and presence at work. In the long run, it can leave a negative impact not only on the person but also their workplace. That is why it is crucial for employers to be attentive to the health of their employees and even provide measures that would help their team stay fit and healthy. One successful example of promoting wellness at the workplace is a “cycle to work” scheme. First introduced in France over 3 years ago, the scheme was developed to encourage employees to use their bikes to get to and from work. A statutory law was established to reward workers, fixing the rate for each kilometer cycled at 29 cents. This practice proved to be widely successful and it is evident, that the monetary incentive strongly increases motivation to participate. Companies that adopted this scheme saw positive results such as reduced parking and transport expenses, boosted public image and improved employee satisfaction.
However, there are many more other clever ways to promote health and wellness in the office. For example, many companies nowadays install areas in their offices where the workers can take up some exercises, relax or even play games to keep physically active. Another simple, but a great way to upgrade the workplace is to set up high desks, positioned so that the person is required to stand to use it. This practice is becoming more and more popular around the world and it is proven to have significant health benefits. All these measures can surely bring positive results such as increased creativity and productivity, reduced stress and most importantly, it prevents obesity and overweight which are associated with many more health problems.
Keeping employees active and promoting a healthy lifestyle should be one of the primary concerns for employers since companies lose notable amounts of money when workers are not present at work or their performance is impaired because of their health conditions.
All in all, high stress levels, mechanised transport, sedentary work modes and processed food are the key elements in modern lifestyle that contribute to the obesity and overweight issue around the world. Despite that, there are many ways to prevent this growing epidemic and implementing healthy habits into the workplace or other establishments is one of the options, benefitting not only the individual, but also their employer.
Indre Zaikaite, Xwhy / Agency of Understanding