Two fifths of employees say work has a negative impact on their health

chocolate-muffinMillions of the UK’s workforce feel they’re putting their heart health at risk due to the pressures of their job, according to a new survey carried out by the British Heart Foundation during the charity’s Heart Month. The survey shows that a large number of employees feel their working life leads them to eat a poor diet, not doing enough exercise and drinking and smoking more than is good for them. The BHF is calling for employers to encourage their workforce to spend at least 10 minutes a day improving their lifestyle during February. The survey found two in five (41 percent) people feel their job has had a negative impact on their health in the last five years, with more than half (55 percent) saying they have become more stressed as a result of their job over the same time period.

When asked how their work has ever affected their health:

  • A third (34 percent) of workers say they think they have put on weight because of their work, with almost half (49 percent) saying their job has driven them to eat more unhealthily
  • More than two fifths (43 percent) say their work has caused them to exercise less than they would like
  • Nearly a quarter (22 percent) say their job has led to them to drink more alcohol and almost one in ten (9 percent) say it’s been a trigger for smoking more
  • The survey also showed three fifths (60 percent) of employees regularly do unpaid overtime, with almost two in ten (19 percent) working more than five hours overtime a week. The pressures of work are leaving employees concerned about their long-term health with almost a third (29 percent) fearing it could lead to high blood pressure and over one in five (21 percent) a heart attack or heart condition.

According to the BHF, obesity, lack of physical activity and smoking all increase the risk of coronary heart disease – the nation’s single biggest killer. Employers encouraging their workforce to take as little as 10 minutes every day to improve their health at work can lead to significant benefits in employee heart health and productivity. Productivity loss as a result of heart and circulatory conditions is estimated to cost businesses £8billion a year. However research shows the vast majority of companies (82 percent) with employee wellness programmes see reduced sickness absence and a 15 percent increase in output.

Lisa Young, Project Manager for the BHF’s Health at Work programme, said: “This survey is a stark reminder of just what happens when we don’t take our health at work seriously enough. Millions of people say they are smoking more, exercising less and putting on weight because they’re not considering the impact their job is having on their health and wellbeing. Behaviours like these can be extremely damaging, not just to your heart health but also to businesses. From working with over with 9,500 organisations we know that the payoffs of making health at work a top businesses priority are too great to ignore. Small steps can make a big difference to your health. This Heart Month we’re working with organisations across the UK to encourage employees to take 10 minutes every day to make positive changes which could have a life-long benefit to their health.”