Older workers are most likely to experiencing health problems as a result of work-related stress and an unhealthy weight, according to research from Canada Life Group Insurance.
However, younger workers are most likely to fall into unhealthy habits at work, with 40% of workers in their 20s citing their job as a cause of weight gain.
The study, which surveyed over 1,000 employees, highlights the future health challenges facing the UK workforce, particularly as the Office of National Statistics (ONS) predicts that a third of workers will be over 50 by 2020.
Older workers seem to be bearing the brunt of health problems associated with workplace stress and an unhealthy weight. 41% of those aged 51-55 believe they have experienced illness as a direct result of work-related stress, while an unhealthy weight has caused 15% to suffer from health problems.
Yet, older workers seem less likely to have access to healthy living benefits or initiatives from their employer. 21% of workers aged 21-50 are offered subsidised gym membership but this falls to 13% in the 51-65 age range. Similarly, access to a health portal/website reduces from 9% in the under 50 age band to just 3% of those 51 and over.
However, it is employees aged 21-30 that are most likely to say they have put on weight because of their job (40%), 4% more than the average of those surveyed. Younger workers are also most likely to be found guilty of unhealthy eating habits while at work, with over a quarter of those in their twenties (27%) skipping lunch or resorting to convenience foods when they are stressed or busy. Workers aged 21-30 are also most likely to eat office snacks brought in by other colleagues (39%) or say unhealthy food is readily available in their workplace (34%).
When it comes to weight gain, older workers who do gain weight because of their job are likely to pile on more pounds than their younger counterparts. Employees aged 51-65 put on an average of more than 8lbs within twelve months because of their jobs, compared to about 7½lbs for 31-50 year olds and around 6½lbs for 21-30 year olds.
Paul Avis, marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance, said: “The UK population is ageing at an unprecedented rate, with the average employee age set to increase as a result. The fact that so many workers over the age of 50 suffer from ill-health as a result of work-related stress and an unhealthy diet or weight is therefore bound to have an increasingly negative effect on absence rates and productivity.
“It seems that these age groups are also being neglected when it comes to workplace healthy living benefits or initiatives. Although younger employees do not experience as many health problems, the fact that they are most likely to gain weight because of their job suggests employees of all ages would benefit from employer support in terms of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Employers need to acknowledge the affect the workplace can have on their staff’s overall health, and ensure they are doing all they can to keep healthiness and happiness –and therefore productivity – on track.”