Could weight in the workplace be an issue


Weight in the workplace

Weight can be a contentious issue, either to the individual who may feel uncomfortable, or to colleagues if it begins to affect their work performance.

As an employer in a corporate organisation, you are responsible for your employees when they are in the workplace, but you have no jurisdiction over them when they are in their free time. You cannot tell them what to do away from the office, but you can have a corporate policy within your own walls. If any of your staff have weight issues, it must be handled delicately and carefully so as not to offend, or make them overly self-conscious, as this can affect their own mental health, and cause them to be unhappy at work. Something you really don’t want to happen.

There is a lot of difference between being ‘overweight’, or being ‘obese’, the latter of which is often used and can sound quite frightening. Unfortunately, obesity is quite rife in many countries throughout the world, and often goes hand in hand with a poor diet and lack of exercise.

In the UK, reported to be the worst region for obesity in Europe, we have the highest rate, and this has doubled in the space of twenty years from 1997 to 2017 with some 13 million adults being declared obese. The majority of these have issues due to eating too many fatty and sugary foods, fast foods and far too many calories overall. However, there are certain health issues that can cause excessive weight, such as under-active thyroid, diabetes treatment, steroid treatment and even anxiety, stress or depression.

Can you help your employees within your corporate entity? There are ways to do so, without causing embarrassment or offence. It does, of course, depend on your budgetary constraints, but what price do you put on your employee’s health, particularly if weight is a problem for them and can reflect on their colleagues?

Legal Commitments

There are several ways of helping your staff to be as healthy as possible, considering realistic budgets, availability of space and other logistics, but there are also certain legalities that must be considered.

The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act was instituted for the protection of employees in the workplace, and employers should consider (where pertinent) the effects of excess weight and how this could relate to the safety and welfare of all staff. Regardless of weight, any equipment needed for an employee to be effective in their job and regarding their safety, needs to be provided.

Other safety factors should also be considered, such as:

  • Protective equipment for the individual – you need to ensure a selection of sizes that will fit anyone, at any weight or build
  • Mobility problems – you need to ensure that in the case of emergencies, all employees can evacuate a building whether by stairs, fire escapes or by lift.
  • Working tools and machinery – if a person carries excess weight, are they still able to reach step ladders, stop buttons, alarms etc without compromise

Essentially, whatever tasks they need to carry out daily, they must be able to safely execute their roles with care and consideration for themselves and for their colleagues.

What about introducing some healthy perks?

Giving your staff ‘perks’ that are not necessarily in their wage packet, can be an incentive for them to get healthier, and for you, to attract good staff for recruitment.

If you don’t already do so, here are some ideas:

  • Introduce gym membership as a company benefit. Quite often, gyms can be a very expensive past time, particularly for those on a lower salary.
  • Research some local healthy food outlets such as salad and juice bars and set up a discounted voucher system with them.
  • Alternatively, make sure you provide healthy food in your staff dining room or in vending machines, which are frequently full of sweets and unhealthy snacks.
  • For staff events or get togethers, try some healthier options that do not include huge restaurant meals and the consumption of alcohol. Spa days or low impact exercise such as timed treasure hunts, are great for making them move around without overdoing it. Every little bit helps.
  • Encourage movement away from a sedentary position (i.e. a desk), so staff can get their circulation going, and take a short break. This is both physically and mentally beneficial.
  • You could consider, if space is available, setting up a small fitness area (depending on the size of your company). Some exercise bikes, balls, dumbbells and a few running machines need not cost the earth.

If people are unfit and overweight, they frequently feel embarrassed and avoid going to their local GPs, as they don’t want to hear it from them.

There is a way that your staff can check on their vital information, that may prompt them to visit a GP or a dietician to help them lose weight. It may well be worth considering a Healthsmart Kiosk by, a multifunctional and precise body composition and cellular monitoring system, easily installed in your office. Staff can check blood pressure, height, weight, heart rate and other functions at the touch of a button – and it’s all done in real time.

This could be ‘worth its weight in gold’ for staff health and wellness, and encouraging them, if need be, to get some help with any issues.

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Download the Free alldayDr app