42% overeat or eat unhealthily because of workplace stress

More than four in 10 (42%) employee respondents overeat or eat unhealthy foods because of workplace stress, according to research by Canada Life Group Insurance.

Its survey of 1,006 full-time and part-time employees also found that 31% of respondents who work in an open-plan office believe that either their colleagues or their boss would not approve if they used their full lunch hour to exercise, compared with 14% of respondents who work from home.

The research also found:

  • 61% of respondents who work outside are more likely to make unhealthy food choices at work, compared to 58% of those who work in an open-plan office, 50% of respondents who work on a shop or business floor, and 32% of respondents who work from home.
  • 58% of office-based respondents agree that their job does not leave them time to exercise, compared to 38% of respondents who work from home.
  • 45% of respondents who work in an open-plan office have put on weight since they started their current role, compared to 28% who work from home.
  • 31% of respondents describe themselves as being frequent or occasional smokers, and 11% of respondents drink with colleagues three to four times a week or more.
  • 87% of office-based respondents and 72% of home-based respondents spend most of their working day sitting down, and 64% and 47% of respondents, respectively, are too tired before or after work to exercise.

Paul Avis (pictured), marketing director at Canada Life Group, said: “With employees spending the majority of their week at work, the habits we develop in the workplace can have a real impact on our long-term health. Although this is partly down to [employees’] own health choices, our research reveals some workplace environments are more likely to cultivate behaviours with real health risk implications than others.

“Employers can alleviate the issue of poor workplace health by communicating positive health and wellbeing messages to staff. Employee assistance programmes (EAPs), such as those included alongside most group income protection products, are a vital tool in maintaining a healthy workforce. These services can help promote healthy actions and support employees should their wellbeing begin to suffer.

“All employers have a duty of care towards their employees, and regularly communicating the importance of health and wellbeing will result in a happier, and ultimately more productive, workforce.”