United Kingdom

Desk potatoes are taking over Britain’s firms

May 2018

The UK has an unhealthy workforce according to new figures which show a third don’t exercise and over half have never had a cholesterol test.

Research from employee recognition strategies firm, the O.C Tanner Institute, which polled 476 workers across companies with 500 or more employees, also found that only 54 per cent feel ‘healthy’, while a third haven’t seen a doctor, dentist, nutritionist or personal trainer in the last year.

According to HR News who reported on the survey, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published guidelines in 2015 for promoting a healthy workplace, yet looking at these current statistics, few companies are advocating a culture that improves the health and wellbeing of staff.

The O.C Tanner Institute cited Health and Safety Executive figures which show there had been 31.2 million working days being lost due to work-related ill health in 2016/17.

According to institute’s survey, 45 per cent have never actively monitored their blood pressure and 64 per cent have never had their cholesterol levels checked.

Georgia Portwain, O.C Tanner Institute’s spokesperson said that the UK’s workers are turning into ‘desk potatoes’.

She commented: “Being unhealthy can impact all aspects of a person’s working life from their number of sick days and levels of productivity through to their mental alertness and how well they interact with colleagues, making it vital for organisations to encourage the adoption of healthy lifestyles.”

Aon’s Rachel Western believes that while many employers interact with health and wellbeing programmes, the management of a healthy lifestyle is an employee’s responsibility:

“Unless engagement in [living healthily] is encouraged by the employer you will typically find those employees who interact will be those who already engage in healthy lifestyles. Incentives and rewards can be great tools to assist in increasing engagement, especially targeting these towards the less “healthy” employees who may struggle to empathise with the benefits of such programmes,” she said.

Western added that encouragement from the top down would send a positive message to staff. She explained: “Where executive level support on promoting a healthy workplace exists, you are likely to see improved engagement and outcomes as the cultural message divests more readily through the organisation.”

Aon Consulting Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FP18/555