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Employers risk business eating al-desko

Published: 06 Jun 2014

Employers are being warned by physiotherapists that if they don’t encourage better working habits among staff, they are risking the health of their business. Your clients could be at risk.

In our survey with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), one in five people (21%) revealed they worked through their lunch every day. Of those who do manage to take a break, almost half (48%) said they ate at their desk. With only 19% leaving their workplace to go outside for a break, and only 3% going to the gym, most don’t take any kind of physical activity during the day. Only 30% of workers said their employer provided any kind of opportunity to exercise, such as a subsidised gym membership, a lunchtime fitness class, or an after work running club.

The CSP is calling on employers to find ways to support staff to be more physically active during the working day, in order to reduce their risk of developing musculoskeletal problems like back and neck pain, and more serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.

With workplace sickness absences costing the UK an estimated £13.8 billion each year, the business case for promoting healthy lifestyles among staff is clear. Your clients could benefit from this message too.

Mark Sharpe, Rehabilitation Clinical Lead at Aviva UK Health, said: “Musculoskeletal conditions and stress are the leading cause of sickness absence and both CSP and Aviva are committed to promoting the ways workers can avoid ill health. We also want to use Workout at Work Day to highlight to employers the benefits of having effective occupational health services, such as physiotherapy, in place for staff. If employers provide fast access to that expert support, a member of staff’s sickness absence can be kept to a minimum and in many cases, avoided entirely.”

Prof Karen Middleton, Chief Executive of the CSP, said “The consequences of not getting enough exercise can be devastating, with many people suffering ill health and prolonged spells off work. But aside from the human cost, the price of inactivity for employers can be vast, with higher sickness absence costs and lower productivity. Physios play a key role in getting people back to work and keeping them fit for work.

“It is in everybody’s interests to find ways to tackle the enormous problem of inactivity in the UK and we would encourage people to take responsibility for their own health.”

The poll is being released ahead of the CSP’s annual ‘Workout at Work Day’, whereby hundreds of physiotherapists will be going into workplaces, including here at Aviva, and other public spaces to encourage people to increase their levels of physical activity.

For more information about Workout at Work Day and to see how your clients and their employees could benefit, click here. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Aviva4Advisers for other useful information.

1. Health and Safety Executive, Annual Statistics Report 2012/13 

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