Help staff become active in fight against obesity

NICE has stressed that a fit and energised workforce is less likely to be off sick and more satisfied in their jobs, as it encourages employers to help their staff become active in fight against obesity.

Organisations are being urged to provide information about safe active travel routes to work, as well as producing physical activity programmes for the workplace to encourage employees to be more active and reduce sedentary behaviour. This could be a lunchtime yoga or spin class at a local gym, offering subsidised gym memberships and encouraging the use of stairs instead of using the lift.

The NICE Quality Standard on encouraging physical activity in the community is aimed at healthcare commissioners, service providers, health and public health practitioners, employers, schools, voluntary and community sector and the public.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that more than 131 million working days were lost to sickness in 2017, including 13 million working days lost to stress, depression or anxiety. Being more active in everyday life is thought to help to reduce staff absenteeism levels, increase staff satisfaction and improve the workplace environment.

Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “If the United Kingdom’s 5.7 million small and medium sized businesses encouraged their workforce to be more active, they are more likely to reap the benefits of having engaged employees who are more productive and are less likely to take time off sick.

“Simple things like providing secure bicycle storage, showers and changing facilities can go a long way to enabling people to cycle to work or to meetings. As a society we are facing an obesity crisis caused in part by people not exercising enough. We need people to change their lifestyle and to take more exercise. If they can do this during the working day, not only will they benefit, but so too will their employers and the NHS. It’s a win, win for everyone.”