Should employers monitor their employees smoking, drinking and food habits? Maybe it would improve their health, but where does support cross the line and become nagging? There’s the question of fat shaming obese members of staff, how will a HR team tackle that awkward conversation? You may also think someone’s hardcore LGBT Iberia/Greek island party lifestyle is a skin cancer health risk, but would you dare try to “modify” that in the workplace? Lots of tricky HR issues to think about when digesting this GRiD press release, which has the best intentions;
According to new research from GRiD, employers could be doing more to prevent ill-health among their staff, including taking steps to reduce the incidence of serious illnesses such as cancer. The industry body for the group risk sector’s research has revealed that nearly one in five employers (17%) do not offer any support that tackles the prevention of illness in their employees.
A minority of cancers can be attributed to genetics, but many are preventable, and have their roots in lifestyle and environmental factors. On this National Cancer Survivors’ Day – which aims to raise awareness of cancer, sufferers, and survivors – GRiD urges employers to review the support they offer and to step things up if they could do more.
Some of the biggest lifestyle factors associated with cancer are well documented, including smoking, drinking alcohol, poor diet, obesity, physical inactivity, sun exposure, and stress, all of which can be modified with the right support. However, even among those employers who do specifically offer support to prevent ill-health, many could do more.
· Only 16% offer their staff a discounted gym, cycle, fitness, etc
· Only 15% offer initiatives to help staff manage stress and mental health
· Just 14% offer lifestyle support such as advice on nutrition, sleep, health and fitness
· And 13% offer apps that encourage better health behaviours
These types of measures and mechanisms can have a direct impact on the overall health of staff and can help mitigate against illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, stroke and liver disease.
It is important for employers to look after all of their staff but as employment rates for those of retiring age are on the rise, many employers will find a significant proportion of their workforce is older and therefore potentially more vulnerable to ill-health from serious illness, including cancer. Offering the right support not only improves the physical and mental health of staff now but it can also be beneficial in reducing the types of illnesses that are associated with ageing too.