Research by Canada Life Group Insurance has found that older workers are more likely to experience health problems as a result of work-related stress and an unhealthy weight, however younger workers are most prone to develop unhealthy habits whilst at work; with 40% of workers who are in their twenties stating that their job has been a cause of weight gain.
The study surveyed over 1,000 employees and provides an indication of the future health challenges facing the UK workforce, with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) predicting that a third of workers will be over 50 by 2020. 41% of employees aged 51-55 believe they have suffered ill health as a direct result of work-related stress, whilst almost a fifth (15%) said that an unhealthy weight had caused them to suffer from health problems. Despite these statistics, older employees appear to be less likely to be able to access healthy living benefits or initiatives from their employer with 21% of workers aged 21-50 being offered subsidised gym membership and only 13% in the 51-65 age range. Access to a health portal/website reduces from 9% in the under 50 age category to just 3% of those employees aged 51 and over.
Employees aged 21-30 are the most likely to say they have put on weight because of their job (40%), which is 4% more than the average of those surveyed. Younger workers are also the most likely to be develop unhealthy eating habits whilst at work, with over a quarter of those in their twenties (27%) skipping lunch or eating convenience foods when they are stressed or busy. Workers aged 21-30 are also the most likely to eat office snacks brought in by other colleagues (39%) and say that unhealthy food is readily available in their workplace (34%).
Paul Avis, Marketing Director at Canada Life Group Insurance, commented:
“The UK population is ageing at an unprecedented rate, with the average employee age set to increase as a result. The fact that so many workers over the age of 50 suffer from ill-health as a result of work-related stress and an unhealthy diet or weight is therefore bound to have an increasingly negative effect on absence rates and productivity.
“It seems that these age groups are also being neglected when it comes to workplace healthy living benefits or initiatives. Although younger employees do not experience as many health problems, the fact that they are most likely to gain weight because of their job suggests employees of all ages would benefit from employer support in terms of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Employers need to acknowledge the affect the workplace can have on their staff’s overall health, and ensure they are doing all they can to keep healthiness and happiness –and therefore productivity – on track.”