Managers failing to lead by example on workplace health

British managers may finally be recognising the value of workplace health, but when it comes to leading by example, they are failing miserably, a survey shows.

According to a poll of corporate health assessments of more than 20,000 workers, undertaken by health insurer and provider Bupa Wellness, managers are all too often overweight smokers who lead sedentary lifestyles without taking enough exercise.

Despite the introduction of smoking bans across the country last year, one in 10 senior-level employees in the poll admitted to smoking.

Similarly, one in four admitted to failing to take exercise at least once a week, thereby increasing their risk of a heart attack or stroke by the same amount as a smoker.

When it came to weight, Bupa found that more than six in 10 of all senior-level employees had a high body mass index with a score of more than 25, which meant an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, diabetes and some cancers.

More optimistically, managers were on the whole resisting the temptation to turn to drink after a stressful day, with only 4% drinking at a level that could damage their health.

Fewer than 10% suffered from high blood pressure, while a similarly low number had high cholesterol.

Dr Peter Mace, Bupa Wellness medical director, said: “It is accepted that people follow examples of strong leaders. For a manager to be seen to be making their health a priority by making changes to their diet and lifestyle, it will encourage employees to do the same, and benefit the business because of a healthier workforce.

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