The case for change

The 5th European Survey on Working Conditions calls on employers to address not only the physical but the psychosocial risks European office workers face when they clock in. High work intensity, emotional demands, lack of autonomy, ethical conflicts, poor social relationships and job and work insecurity can all impact negatively on workers’ health and wellbeing. Herbalife's own research found that more than 1 in 4 workers across Europe’s five major economies report are reporting high levels of work-related stress.

When employees feel dissatisfied, unfulfilled, anxious, overburdened, or unsupported the result is stress. Stress in turn will soon affect overall health and nutrition, as a vicious circle emerges, where stress can lead to poor eating habits, which in turn only enhance employee’s propensity to feel anxious and stressed.

The result of stress and poor nutrition are the same: loss in productivity, absenteeism and premature withdrawal from the labour force, all of which affect the bottom line, and, on a wider scale, European economic output and competitiveness.

Unhappiness, stress and depression can lead to snacking on unhealthy foods high in fats and sugars, causing weight gain and ultimately, obesity, which has a substantial impact on absenteeism, productivity and business profits.

Fortunately, companies are starting to take their employees’ wellbeing seriously and employees are also taking more responsibility for their mental and physical health.

The United States, battling an obesity time bomb, is leading the way in progressive corporate initiatives but European firms are following suit, incorporating healthier canteen menus, sharing the costs of membership to fitness centres and offering information on nutrition and wellbeing. Experts, however, argue that much more needs to be done and at a faster pace to combat physical and mental health problems and their impact both on individuals, corporations and the wider economy.