HR Hartley

HR cannot fight the battle of the bulge

Pity the poor occupational health manager. I certainly pity mine. Last week,
it was the bad-back programme. The week before, it was the health-check
programme. And of course, every week it’s stress.

Now she’s got to get to grips with fat, too, and she’s certainly going to
need some help.

There’s lots of fat about, and there’s going to be more. The National Audit
Office predicts that by 2010, one in four adults in England will be obese. At
the moment, 21 per cent of women and 17 per cent of men are obese, and a
juggernaut-load more are overweight. That’s about three times more than there
were in 1980.

Something must be done, says the Government. Which means HR will have to do
some of it.

It’s a buck I’ve passed to our occupational health manager, but she doesn’t
know what to do. And anyway, why should companies be responsible for fighting
flab?

We’ve organised fitness programmes, but only the fit and those who want
discounted gym membership turn up. We offer lots of cycle parking, but only
Lycra-louts can face the traffic. We offer health checks too, but those of wide
girth give them an even wider berth. And our ‘dump the plump’ week bombed.

This tells me that fat-busting is not an attainable company objective unless
we in HR are given the kind of powers Joe Stalin enjoyed.

Yes, we could close the lifts. We could install ramps. We could impose Kate
Moss-inspired menus in the canteen, and we could even buy smaller office
chairs.

But it won’t make any difference. If individuals can’t banish their own
flab, then neither can HR. This is one Government buck that should definitely
be passed back.

Hartley is an HR director at large

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