Corporate Unwellness – Addressing Obesity in the Workplace


The Australian workforce is facing a serious and unique challenge: obesity. It is estimated that a large chunk of the Australian workforce has obesity to contend with. Why is this alarming considering the fact that obesity is a global health challenge? Consider these facts:

According to a study by the University of Wollongong in association with a national body, Workplace Health Association Australia, about 50% of the total employees in the country were struggling with overweight and its twin brother, obesity.

Effects On Productivity And Efficiency

One of the most profound impacts of obesity on the workforce is a gradual decline in the overall performance and productivity of the employees. The Chief Executive of WHAA, Dr. John Lang said that on an average, an employee: “was seeing a 2.4% reduction in productivity, on average, per risk factor. So if an average employee has four risk factors, that’s four times a 2.4% reduction in productivity.” By risk factor, the doctor mentioned some obesity-related health problems such as high blood pressure, physical inactivity, smoking, high cholesterol, and psychological distress.

Individual employee performance also takes a bad hit by obesity. Being in an unhealthful state physically and mentally, increases the probability of staff taking time off from work. For instance, studies show that employees with obesity are 62% more likely to take personal leave than healthier employees.Absenteeism has been linked to injury or illness resulting from their weight problem.

Reduced performance and productivity has a negative effect on the economy too. As a result of unexpected absenteeism from work, the government loses millions of dollars annually. That is apart from the financial implication on the victim too.

Is it advisable to let this trend continue? The answer is a resounding No.

So what remedial actions can be taken?It is very important for employees to get the help and support that they need to address health issues related to weight gain and obesity. Health and fitness professionals and employers should work together to improve every employee’s fitness for work. When staff are a part of a workplace culture that promotes health and wellness, employee engagement increases and staff find their work and workplace more fun and rewarding.

How To Combat Workplace Unwellness

  1. It is a matter of urgency for employers to encourage staff to engage in a corporate wellness program that includes the facilitation of physical activity and nutritional coaching designed for employees to be physically, mentally and psychologically fit for work.
  2. Personal efforts of individual staff towards achieving fitness for work, should be encouraged too.

Working towards achieving this goal is a necessity. Apart from the socio-economic implication, it is now mandatory in Australia for managers to have difficult conversations with obese staff and they don’t know how to do this without further implications. As part of a company’s workplace health and safety standards, a corporate wellness program, can go a long way in nurturing a healthy happy working environment that managers and employers share.Performance and productivity improves and workplace capability and culture is enhanced resulting in increased employee engagement and staff retention.

If your weight is driving a wedge between your Self and your fitness for work, it’s time to seek remedial support. You shouldn’t be at the mercy of any type of unwellness or dis-ease that renders you unfit for work and life as a whole.

If you’re lucky to work for an organisation that has a corporate wellness program, find out more about it and take advantage of it!

If your employer currently doesn’t have one for you to take part in, then make a suggestion. I’m happy to work with you your organisation to provide Corporate Training.

Or you can start your fitness journey with me and I can work with you on an individualized training and nutrition program to suit your special needs. I’m ready to help you, just email me here.