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Modern work is making us fat and unhappy

Lee Biggins
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Memories of Christmas are fading, but many of us will no doubt have gained a few pounds over the festive season. But, for nearly one third of the nation’s professionals, it doesn’t stop there, with 29.1 percent admitting that their work has led them to gain weight. Contributor Lee Biggins, founder and managing director – CV-Library.

The survey by CV-Library, of 1,200 workers, sought to explore the affect our jobs have on our health, our weight and our happiness. Of those that admit that they have gained weight because of their current job, three quarters (75.7 percent) said that this has left them feeling unhappy. These professionals identified a number of causes for weight gain at work. The top five reasons include: Sitting at a desk all day – 50.1 percent. Working long days that don’t leave time to fit in exercise – 40.8 percent; Snacking a lot at work – 40.3 percent; Eating more due to stress at work – 31.2 percent; Colleagues bringing in unhealthy snacks to share – 28 percent

Living a healthy lifestyle can sometimes feel like a job in itself, so it’s unsurprising to see that work has an impact on the eating and exercise habits of many of the nation’s professionals. That said, it’s worrying to learn that such a high percentage are unhappy as a result. Weight gain at work is understandable, particularly if you sit at a desk all day and struggle to fit in going to the gym or taking part in exercise before or after work.

While it can be tricky, as ultimately the lifestyle choices of your employees are out of your hands, try to encourage healthy habits. Walk or cycle to work schemes are always a great way to get help staff fit in exercise around their working day. What’s more, inexpensive perks like healthy snacks and team lunches, or discounted gym membership are positive ways to encourage your staff to look after themselves. After all, unhealthy and unhappy staff are going to be less motivated, and as a result, less productive.

 What’s more, 53.3 percent of the nation’s workers revealed that there are other aspects of their job that made them feel unhappy. For the majority (32.5 percent) it is because they are overworked, closely followed by having a poor work-life balance (22.1 percent), working for a company with a poor culture (20.1 percent), long commutes (19.1 percent) and not enjoying their daily tasks (18.5 percent).

The majority (81.8 percent) of those who are unhappy with aspects of their job admit that they do proactively try to make themselves feel better. In fact, almost two-thirds (63.1 percent) talk to their colleagues when they’re feeling down, 18.7 percent take regular breaks and 12 percent browse social media.

We spend a lot of our time at work, so it’s important that our job makes us happy. While it’s good to see that some professionals are taking positive steps to make themselves feel better at work, if they’re suffering from a poor work-life balance, long commutes or are working somewhere that has a poor culture, it’s unlikely that regular breaks or browsing Facebook will solve the problem in the long term. Plus these are costly solutions from a business perspective, who could be losing hours from employees browsing social media or stopping to chat.

Instead, if you recognise that a member of the team seems unhappy, arrange a meeting to sit down and discuss what’s bothering them. This will help you to nip it in the bud right away. What’s more, work hard to create a fun and creative company culture, where staff get along, but also feel they can approach you if they’re experiencing any problems.