Is your job making you fat and unhappy?

One in three UK professionals say that their jobs are making them fat and unhappy, and may be on the look out for new opportunities in 2018.

New research reveals that close to 30 per cent of UK workers blame their jobs as the main reason for their weight gain and general malaise. Independent job board, CV-Library, surveyed 1,200 workers to explore the link between work, health, and happiness. Of those that admit that they have gained weight because of their current job, three quarters 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 per cent
  • Working long days that don’t leave time to fit in exercise – 40.8 per cent
  • Snacking a lot at work – 40.3 per cent
  • Eating more due to stress at work – 31.2 per cent
  • Colleagues bringing in unhealthy snacks to share – 28 per cent

“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,” Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library said. “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 per cent of the nation’s workers revealed that there are other aspects of their job that made them feel unhappy. Forone in three, it is because they are overworked, closely followed by having a poor work-life balance, working for a company with a poor culture, long commutes, and not enjoying their daily tasks.

Eight in ten 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 talk to their colleagues when they’re feeling down, 18.7 per cent take regular breaks and 12 per cenr browse social media.

“We spend a lot of our time at work, so it’s important that our job makes us happy,” Biggins added. “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, according to Biggins. “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.”

Watch out for employee burnout

Job dissatisfaction is bad for your health, according to major research from Lancaster University Management School and Manchester Business School showing a clear link between unhappiness at work and poor physical and mental wellbeing.

The survey, of over 250,000 workers, reveals that health is directly related to how satisfied an individual is with their job. The research looked at issues such as fulfillment with work, pay, promotion, supervision and co-workers.

The consequences of poor satisfaction can be emotional burnout, reduced self-esteem, increased anxiety and depression. Even a modest decrease in job satisfaction can lead to burn out of considerable clinical importance.

With depression and anxiety the most common reasons for people claiming long-term sickness benefits, the researchers believe this is something small businesses need to be aware of and address.

One way of combating problems is to develop stress management policies that identify and reduce or eradicate factors that cause dissatisfaction, such as hours of work, organisational and management style, and the level of an employee’s control over their own work.

‘Employers should seriously look at tackling the consequences of job dissatisfaction and related health problems with innovative policies,’ urges Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University Management School. ‘This would be a wise investment given the potential substantial economic and psychological costs of unhappy or dissatisfied workers. Workers who are satisfied by their jobs are more likely to be healthier as well as happier. Employers should make changes after identifying aspects of the job causing the most stress and dissatisfaction.’

See also: Deconstructing workplace happiness – foundations for sustained employee satisfaction

Praseeda Nair

Kellen Rempel

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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