With the start of a new year often comes many health related resolutions and a chance for employees and employers alike to take a fresh look at their wellness both in and out of the workplace. Perhaps most common among these resolutions are those related to weight-loss and exercise, particularly in a workplace more and more focused on relatively sedentary “desk-jobs”. Conventional wisdom would suggest that when it comes to weight management, it is these employees that would struggle most to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. However, a recent article published in the Plain Dealer, reports that employers may actually need to be more concerned about the wellness of a very different group of employees.
According to a 2013 University of Massachusetts' study cited by the PD, employees with more physically demanding jobs aren’t necessarily at a lower risk of struggling to maintain a healthy weight than their more sedentary counterparts. In fact, researchers found that external factors often put these individuals, typically those in industries such as construction, health care and manufacturing, at higher risk for obesity or other weight related ailments triggered by stress, hormonal imbalances, or even simply exhaustion after a long hard day at work.
Limited Time and Money
Another commonality noted among employees in the study was low wages. With limited financial resources, many subjects reported simply not having the time (many worked more than one job), money or access to foods that would allow them to prepare healthy meals for themselves and their families. Instead, convenience foods, which were often also less healthy, were the norm for many of these employees.
Importance of Wellness Programs
In a society with a growing awareness of wellness, this study once again emphasizes the importance of employer run wellness programs. Local surveys have found that well over half of Northeast Ohio employers offer some sort of formal wellness program to their employees, putting the region right in line with the national average of about 60%. For example, based on the University of Massachusetts' study described above, employees in the manufacturing industry would benefit most from a well rounded wellness initiative at their organization. Interestingly, ERC’s Healthcare & Wellness Practices Survey suggests that here in Northeast Ohio, the manufacturing industry has already recognized and embraced this philosophy, with manufacturers exceeding both non-profits & non-manufacturers in terms of their wellness programs at 62%.
View ERC's Wellness Practices Survey Results
This report summarizes the results of ERC’s survey of organizations in Northeast Ohio on practices related to health care and wellness.