Should Corporations Take a More Proactive Approach to Employee Health?

A recent study has highlighted that the obesity crisis is affecting businesses more than previously thought.

Over the last decade the relationship between obesity and serious illness has been understood better. It is now know that obesity is a key trigger for conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. The focus in recent years has been on finding ways to help people lose weight to prevent these illnesses and to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.

However, it is always a reactive response. To lose weight. Why not take a more proactive approach to ensure that fewer people get overweight to start with? If you only ever encourage people to lose weight then you are never going to resolve the obesity problem.

“To end obesity we have to stop people from becoming overweight in the first place.”

Businesses are always looking at new ways to increase productivity in the workplace. Whether it is flexible working arrangements, improving the staff canteen, making the office place more personal and welcoming or arranging team building activities. Managers want their staff to be engaged and to work as effectively as possible.

So if studies have shown that obese employees take more time off sick for non-serious illness, such as stress, colds, backache, digestive disorders and depression, then surely it would be in every businesses interests to encourage its workforce to be healthier and fitter? Why do they not do this? Do any companies out there actively encourage people to be an ideal weight and fit?

Some health insurance companies have taken this approach in recent years. PruHealth offers discounted free gym membership to its clients that exercise several times a week. If a health insurance company recognises that offering an incentive to exercise is good for business (healthier clients are less likely to need health insurance) then why aren’t businesses taking the same approach?

If you run a business that provides incentives to staff to get fit and lose weight (or stay at a healthy weight) then let us know. If you work for a company that has encouraged you to stay in shape we would love to hear from you.

Maybe the solution should be to provide financial incentives to those that actually use a gym, rather than just make it cheaper to join a gym.

It is time that business took a more proactive approach to boosting staff productivity. Healthy employees are happier employees, and happy workers are more productive. Is just providing discounted gym membership enough?

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