Employee Health & Wellbeing: The increasing role of the employer
Joanne Allen, Workplace Health & Wellbeing Lead at Slimming World
This week, Chief Executive of Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation, Kieron Boyle, commented in the Financial Times about how the disparity of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt across different communities. Those most affected by the virus are people who live in polluted areas, people with higher rates of obesity, or those with long-term health conditions. All of those factors are more likely for those living in poor-quality housing and experiencing inadequate working conditions.
Mr Boyle indicated that businesses and investors face increasing pressure to take responsibility for the effect products and services have on the environment, the health of their consumers, and the employees who work to produce them.
It is important that, as we come out of the pandemic, these areas are addressed. Employers are being forced to reflect and consider the impact of their business, including the people at the very heart of it – their employees.
A recent study*, showed that more than half of UK adults found it difficult to manage their weight during the first COVID-19 lockdown and the recent Government obesity strategy sets out the increasingly urgent need to tackle the epidemic of obesity the UK is currently facing.
Obesity is not only associated with a higher risk of developing long-term health complications, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer, but also has links to poor mental health and may affect self-esteem and confidence.
National statistics and the obesogenic environment in the UK, highlights the need to ensure we all have the right opportunities to keep us healthy. Our body weight has a huge impact on both our physical and mental health. At GTR we wanted to ensure that our employees have the right opportunities to improve their wellbeing. The GTR and Slimming World’s partnership has provided hundreds of our employees a fantastic opportunity to improve their wellbeing, through virtual and face-to-face support sessions. So far, GTR employees have nearly attended 3,000 Slimming World sessions and have lost over an incredible 200 stone. The programme facilitates healthy lifestyles and can provide huge benefits to organisations looking to provide a company-wide wellbeing promotion.
Obesity can affect the suitability of an employee to fulfil a role; if their role requires specific fitness criteria, for example due to manual labour or ability to fit in tight spaces. This can lead to difficult conversations with employees about the need to lose weight to continue to fulfil their role effectively. Raising the issue of weight sensitively and encouraging staff to manage their weight with compassionate and effective support, can help to ensure a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce.
Research of Slimming World members** shows that weight loss results in significant physical and mental health benefits, with 91% of members saying being a Slimming World member made them feel more positive about themselves, and more than two-thirds commented that their Slimming World group makes them feel they are not alone.
As businesses come under increasing pressure to ensure the good health of their workforce, they face a growing demand from employees to promote, provide and support healthier lifestyles through access to healthy food, promotion of physical activity and recognition of the impact of poor mental health.
To learn more about Slimming World’s Workplace schemes, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit slimmingworld.co.uk.
Slimming World operates flexible Workplace schemes with employees’ wellbeing in mind. The most common and effective scheme is joining a 12-week programme at a Slimming World community group where they will be able to get all the support of their Consultant and fellow members. Membership of a group includes free 24/7 online access to the Slimming World member’s website with over 1,500 recipes, meal plans, weight loss tools as well as a members-only app. Alternatively, employees can become members of Slimming World Online and access the programme in their own time. Through our Workplace schemes employees will lose weight and discover healthy habits for life. We can also advise employers on how best to broach the subject of weight and support their colleagues effectively.
*Slimming World’s Health and Wellbeing Study is an on-going research project. Reported findings are a snapshot of data from the research relating to 1,000 UK adults polled in April 2020 which asked how Covid-19 affected behaviour, compared to previous responses from November 2019.
**The Slimming World survey was undertaken online. Total sample size was 1202 Slimming Members (aged 18+). Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th November to 5th December 2019.