Two in five Welsh workers say their job has a negative impact on their health

two in five Welsh workers say their job has a negative impact on their health

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) urges employers to help workers kick-start a healthier lifestyle during Heart Month.

Workers in Wales feel they’re putting their heart health at risk due to the pressures of their job, according to a new survey by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) during the charity’s Heart Month (February). (1)

The survey shows that swathes of people feel their stressful working life is leading to them eating a poor diet, not doing enough exercise and drinking and smoking more than they otherwise would. The charity is now calling for employers to encourage their workforce to spend at least 10 minutes a day improving their lifestyle for the remainder of Heart Month.

The BHF survey found two in five Welsh workers (40%) feel their job has had a negative impact on their health in the last five years, with almost two thirds (61%) saying their general stress levels have increased in the same time period due to their work.

When asked how their work has ever affected their health:

  • Over a third (37%) of Welsh workers say they think they have put on weight, with almost half (46%) saying their job has driven them to eat more unhealthily
  • More than two fifths (43%) say their work has caused them to exercise less than they would like
  • Nearly a third (31%) say their job has led to them to drink more alcohol and one in twenty (5%) saying it’s been a trigger for smoking more

The survey also showed almost three fifths (59%) of Welsh employees regularly do unpaid overtime, with almost a third (31%) working more than five hours overtime a week. The pressures of work are leaving people concerned about their long-term health with almost a third (31%) fearing it could lead to a heart attack or heart condition.

This Heart Month (February), the BHF is encouraging employers to join its Health at Work programme and run the 10 Minute Heart Month Challenge, starting on 16 February.

Obesity, lack of physical activity and smoking all increase the risk of coronary heart disease – the nation’s single biggest killer. But the BHF says that 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. (2) However research shows of the vast majority of companies (82%) with employee wellness programmes see reduced sickness absence and a 15% increase in output. (3)

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 well-being.

“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 pay-offs 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.”

The BHF’s Health at Work programme offers free expert advice to employers to help improve the health and productivity of their workforce. More than 9,500 organisations have already benefited, helping their workers get active, eat well and reduce their stress.

By signing-up to the Heart Month Challenge, businesses get free resources and support to challenge their workforce to make one small improvement to their lifestyle for 10 days during Heart Month. To sign up for the British Heart Foundation’s Health at Work 10 Minute Challenge, visit bhf.org.uk/health-at-work

Notes:

1) All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,096 adults, of whom 1,384 were UK workers, and 69 of these were from Wales. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd – 3rd December 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

2) Allender S. Scarborough P. Peto V et al – European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics. Brussels: European Heart Foundation 2008.

3) PricewaterhouseCoopers – Building the Case for Wellness, 2008

Image: Dollar Photo Club

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