Did you know that one in four adults are classified as clinically obese?
This means that one in every four of your employees could be obese and require additional adjustments to support their comfort and overall wellbeing.
In the UK, an estimated 15.5-16 million sick days taken per year are attributed to the effects of obesity. Obesity can cause a number of serious health issues such as:
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- some types of cancer
- musculoskeletal conditions
- poor mental and emotional wellbeing
All of these effects of obesity can also have repercussions on the productivity, presence and efficiency of your staff. Worries about health, lack of self esteem, feelings of guilt or shame and varying amounts of pain and discomfort can all distract people from their work.
As an employer, there are several things that you can do to care for your staff. You should ensure that they are as comfortable as possible at their current size, but also consider creating a company wide strategy for health and wellbeing that encourages everyone to make healthier choices.
Healthier food and drink options should be offered in the canteen, vending machines and from any outside subscription services or caterers. You could also make sure that the healthy canteen recipes are made available for staff to follow at home.
Considering how and when staff get the opportunity to move and exercise throughout the day is also important. Practical plans that go beyond a subsided gym membership should be implemented in order to encourage all staff to become more active during working hours.
For example, installing changing and showering facilities, alongside secure and convenient storage for clothes, bags and equipment can be helpful in encouraging more active ways to commute to work such as walking, jogging or cycling. An on-site gym could be considered to provide an easily accessible place to exercise or external agencies could be brought in to run a variety of exercise classes throughout the week.
Simpler and more instant plans could include the introduction of walking meetings, promoting the use of stairs instead of lifts and creating monthly or weekly staff team challenges such as total amount of steps or weight lost. Make sure that staff often take the entirety of their lunch break, are encouraged not to eat at their desk and incorporate some type of movement during their break, such as a short walk around the building or grounds.
Regular health screenings can not only help people to realise if they do have a health issue, but they can also help to keep those who are trying to make healthier choices on track. Another benefit of on-site health screenings is that they allow employers to gain a better insight into the health of their workforce and identify areas that may require more focus.
Employees should be provided with information on reputable weight loss, exercise and wellbeing classes, clubs or apps. This helps to ensure that they make healthier and more informed choices outside of the workplace. The NHS Change4Life website is a great place to source this type of information.
With all that being said, change takes time and staff need to be comfortable enough to work productively until the changes start to take effect. So, what can be done?
Carry out a review of the furniture that your staff are using. If an employee is sat in an unsuitable chair, levels of discomfort can increase, leading to a drop in productivity. In the worst case scenarios the chair may break, causing embarrassment or even harm to the employee.
Key indicators that someone is sat in a chair that is inappropriate for their size include:
- The employee does not appear to comfortably fit between the two armrests
- In the case that a chair doesn’t have armrests, the member of staff is visibly too large for the chair
- The employee has complained of or taken time off due to musculoskeletal pain
- The castors or base of the chair may start to crack
- The chair’s back does not properly support the employee, even once the tension has been adjusted
There are a range of seating options available to cater for larger employees. These types of chairs feature wider seats and backrests and are designed to withstand heavier weights. Some chairs designed for heavier loads offer even more support and comfort with bespoke designs, unique to an individual’s needs.
A chair assessment can be carried out by a member of our staff to avoid potentially uncomfortable conversations between employers and employees in relation to size and weight. We can also take a range of other measurements in a professional and discreet manner and ask specific questions in order to establish the best product for the employee’s needs.