CMI: Employers are used to informing staff on the appropriate behaviour and clothing needed to perform their role effectively, but is meandering into their eating habits and fitness regime a step too far? Tesco clearly think not, with chief executive Dave Lewis placing a message on the staff website advising the supermarket’s 314,000 employees how to get fit.
According to The Sun, the memo includes tips on how to use breaks to keep moving, taking a walk or doing some stretches. ‘Walking meetings’ are also recommended for staff to boost exercise and creativity. Not solely isolated to the workplace, staff have been told to use TV advert breaks to run up and down the stairs, jog on the spot, or do some sit ups at home.
Tesco said: “Colleagues asked us to help them think about their health and we are happy to lend a hand with some ideas to stay active.” The supermarket isn’t alone in its attempts to get employees active, with the Department of Health starting a voluntary scheme to help NHS staff lose weight. Currently operating as a pilot scheme in one trust in London, it could spread across the country if successful and help the estimated 700,000 NHS staff with weight issues.
However, managers must be careful not to alienate their staff and instead adopt a softly-softly approach to encouraging staff to take on greater health initiatives. The health tips offered by Tesco are part of its wellbeing policy and complements its other employee programmes such as its occupational health team, healthcare cash plan and discounted health insurance.
The motives for companies are clear. Healthier staff are more likely to be more efficient and more punctual, while overweight employees are likely to have higher rates of sick leave.
Managers must be mindful of employment law, as they cannot force an employee they perceive to be overweight to drop the pounds if they are unable to prove that the extra weight has a direct impact on the business.
Experts suggest Tesco has made the bold step in an attempt to smarten up the appearance of Tesco’s stores amid concerns about overweight checkout workers putting off customers.
An industry insider told The Sun: “Let’s be honest, trim workers are less likely to take days off sick, plus they can stack shelves more quickly than fat ones. But this also ties in with attempts to smarten up Tesco stores. Healthy workers will give a more appealing look than a bunch of sweaty and overweight workers wheezing around the aisles.” by Jermaine Haughton