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Author Sara Pebbles

As the weather is warming up and outdoor activities are on employee’s minds, so are their summer bodies.  CareerBuilder recently conducted a survey that found 56% of the workforce in the United States believe that they are overweight. On top of that, 45% believe that they have gained weight at their current job. And we aren’t talking about just a couple pounds here, 25% have gained more than 10 pounds and 1 in 10 have gained more than 20 pounds.  Respondents blame the workplace.

The survey asked the employees why they feel the workplace is leading them to pack on the pounds, and not surprisingly the number one factor was sitting for most of the day (51%). Other leading factors included being too tired from work to exercise (45%), not having time to exercise before or after work (38%), stress eating (38%), eating out (24%), skipping meals due to time constraints (19%), workplace celebrations (18%), and the office candy jar (16%).

Although employees place the weight gain blame on the workplace, company wellness benefits are still underutilized.  Of the employee’s surveyed who say their company offers wellness benefits, 63% admitted that that are not taking advantage of them. When it came to employees who say their company does not offer wellness benefits, only 42% said they would take advantage of them.

While not all companies offer extensive wellness benefits there are still some easy ways to encourage healthy behaviors with employees, starting with food.  The study discovered that nearly 25% of U.S. workers eat out for lunch at least three times a week, with 12% finding food for lunch from a vending machine at least once a week. 73% of employees say they regularly snack throughout the day. Having healthier options for snacks in the lunch room or having fruit or vegetables at workplace celebrations can help combat the weight gained due to excessive amounts of unhealthy food being around.

Aside from food it is also important to encourage employees who sit at desks to get up and move throughout the day. Some suggestions are to have walking meetings, sponsor a yoga or gym class onsite, and to start or encourage walking or bicycling clubs.

“Providing employees the tools they need to get and stay healthy, then encouraging their workers to use these benefits, is a surefire way to maximize your talent and encourage employee loyalty,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

Source: ase.com, careerbuilder.com, businessnewsdaily.com