Swathes of Britain’s workforce are putting their health at risk as a result of work pressures, according to a report carried out by the British Hearth Foundation. The charity’s survey reveals that the stress of working life is causing workers to eat a poor diet, not do enough exercise and over-indulge in habits such as drinking and smoking. Read on for the highlights from the survey, in addition to recommendations offered.
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This survey is a stark reminder of just what happens when we don’t take our health at work seriously enough… Lisa Young, British Heart Foundation
- Two-fifths of employees believe their job has had an adverse impact on their health in the last five years.
- Over half of the respondents feel they have become stressed in the last five years due to their work.
- When asked how their jobs affect their health, over a third believe they have gained weight, with nearly a half of them saying that their job leads them to eat more unhealthily. In addition, more than 40 percent are exercising less than they would like.
- Work stress leads employees to indulge in unhealthy behaviour more often than they would like, with nearly a quarter saying their job has led them to drink more alcohol, and one in ten of the respondents believing that this in turn leads them to smoke more.
- Three-fifths of the employees surveyed admit to working overtime unpaid on a regular basis, with almost a fifth working more than five hours of overtime a week.
- Employees are concerned about the long-term impact of work pressures on their health, with nearly a third believing it could lead to hypertension and more than two in ten of them fearing a heart attack.
What’s the Significance of the Study?
Apart from the charity’s ongoing drive to improve the nation’s health by highlighting the risks of lack of physical activity, smoking and a poor diet, the survey is part of a move to promote its ‘Health at Work’ initiative to employers (see below). The charity recommends that employers should persuade their workforce to exercise for at least 10 minutes a day to improve their health. Studies have shown that even a small amount of exercise significantly improves health outcomes and boosts productivity.
The Health at Work Programme
The Health at Work programme offers free advice to organisations seeking to improve the health and productivity of their employees. According to the British Heart Foundation, over 9,000 organisations have benefitted from the programme which helps their workers to get fit, eat well and minimise stress. Businesses who sign up for the programme also receive free resources and support to help them motivate their workforce to look after their health.
It’s frightening but true: a quarter of us die from cardiovascular disease. Initiatives such as the British Heart Foundation’s survey, which draws our attention to the health of Britain’s employees, and its programmes such as Health at Work, are rallying calls for employers who truly believe that their employees are their greatest asset to take a lead regarding the wellbeing of their employees.
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