An astonishing two in five employees say that pressures at work have triggered them to put on weight, eat badly, exercise less and smoke and drink more. A survey of public sector workers, which was conducted by YouGov for the British Heart Foundation (BHF), found that almost half (49%) of respondents said their work had driven them to eat more unhealthily and a third thought they had put on weight due to their jobs.
Jobs Preventing More Exercise
Moreover, 43% of the individuals surveyed cited that they would like to exercise more than they do, but their jobs prevented them from doing so. And just over one in five (22%) said they were now drinking more as a result of their work and 9% are now smoking more.
It seems that work is a major contributor to declining health; something that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering 60% of respondents said they frequently work unpaid overtime. In fact, more than one in five said they work more than five extra hours overtime every week.
With all these figures in mind, it’s no wonder that 55% said they had become more stressed because of their jobs over the last five years.
High Blood Pressure and Heart Attacks are Big Concerns
More worrying are the statistics relating to people’s perceptions of their long-term health, with 29% fearing that the demands of their work could lead to high blood pressure and 21% stating that it could bring on a heart condition such as a heart attack.
These concerns aren’t without foundation as obesity, lack of physical activity and smoking are all associated with coronary heart disease – the UK’s biggest killer. It is important that businesses promote healthier behaviours at work as after all, loss of productivity due to employee heart and circulatory problems is thought to cost businesses in the region of £8 billion a year.
Furthermore, companies with employee wellness programmes benefit from reduced levels of sickness absence and an impressive 15% increase in output.
The BHF’s Health at Work programme project manager, Lisa Young, said: “This survey is a stark reminder of just what happens when we don’t take our health at work seriously enough. Millions of people say they are smoking more, exercising less and putting on weight because they’re not considering the impact their job is having on their health and wellbeing.”
She also added: “Small steps can make a big difference. This Heart Month (February) we’re working with organisations across the UK to encourage employees to take 10 minutes every day to make positive changes which could have a life-long benefit to their health.”
Premier Choice has for some time now looked at the cost of stress and mental health aspects on short term absences. However, now it is becoming clear that stress and pressure at work are having a detrimental effect of people’s long term health. Perhaps the growing trend of taking lunch at the desk is worse for people than they think?
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