If you thought obesity and its effects were a private concern, think again. Research has indicated that obesity can affect one’s professional life too. So, how does obesity affect employees and overall employment? Know how, in this write-up…
Transportation is one of the top careers with the heaviest employees. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey, bus drivers have an obesity rate of 36 percent, which is the highest among 14 other occupation groups surveyed.
Ever heard of an employer saying, “You have an interesting CV, but you are 50 pounds too heavy to apply for this position”, or “Your appraisal is frozen until you shed that flab off your waist”. It is strange that two diverse issues like body image and profession would be talked upon an even platform. We all know that a pleasant personality is always liked by one and all, but how much should your body image affect your employment? Legally, discriminating between employees or candidates on the basis of body image is wrong. But in recent times, many factors are changing the perspective of employers.
Does being obese affect work productivity? Is obesity an obstacle in achieving your professional dreams? According to studies and research, yes. Obesity is on the rise, and can cause losses to both the employer and the employee. This write-up gives you a fresh view of how obesity can affect, not only hiring trends, but also your professional growth and success.
Effects of Obesity On Employment
✒ According to a poll conducted by Harris Interactive/HealthDay, it was found that more than 52 percent people in the obese or morbidly obese category said that they felt discriminated when it came to applying for a job or being considered for a promotion.
✒ When views of HR professionals were noted, on whether being obese affected an employee’s career, most opinions showed discrimination. More than 90 percent hiring crew would choose a healthier candidate as compared to obese applicants, even if both had the same experience and qualification. Obese employees were also more easily overlooked when it came to promotions.
✒ While employees have their share of losses, let us also take a look at how obesity can affect employers. Well, employers have to shell an extra buck for obese employees as far as health care and compensation costs are concerned. Medical and disability claims also increase the employer’s financial burden. It was observed that, the cost companies bear for health care was 21 percent higher for obese people, than the cost for employees with a healthy weight.
✒ It is also observed that obese workers have a higher absenteeism rate, as compared to their healthy counterparts. This directly affects productivity and work, which adds up to the losses for the employer or business.
✒ Obesity also contributes to reduced work activity and higher chances of injury at work. The fact that obesity is closely related to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, makes fat people come under the scanner for ill health.
✒ Employers also have to bear the increasing costs of medical claims and expenditures. More employers are encouraging people to lose weight, as the costs for covering health premiums are increasing rapidly.
✒ Another study by the University of Manchester and Monash University, Melbourne, was conducted to see whether being fat led to any discrimination or bias in terms of employment. Participants were shown resumes of candidates along with a small photo. They were asked to rate the job applicants in terms like starting salary, suitability and employability. The resumes had pictures of women pre and post bariatric surgery. It was observed that, in each case, there was significant discrimination in the selection of factors like salary, employability, and potential of the job applicant who was obese. It can be said that obese women (pictures before the surgery) received more negative responses as compared to resumes that had pictures of women post surgery.
✒ According to a Duke University Medical Center study, it was observed that, in a span of five years, obese workers filed twice the number of workers compensation claims, took thirteen times the number of leaves due to injury or illness, and claimed seven times the medical costs, than their healthier or non-obese counterparts.
✒ According to a research by Wayne State University researcher, Cort Rudolph, discrimination is most prominent when hiring new employees, which is when they are most susceptible to being compared with stereotypes.
✒ Obese people generally gather stereotype views like, being lazy, unproductive, uneducated, and slow. So, this discrimination affects employment in every possible way, like hiring, promotions, salary, and discipline.
✒ Women, especially, have obesity blurring their career prospects to a noticeable extent. According to another research by Charles Baum, of Middle Tennessee State University, obesity in women could lower their annual income by 6.2 percent.
✒ All in all, obesity can and does affect employment in many ways, which may result in losses not only to the employee, but also to the employer.
To tackle this issue, small and large-scale businesses are introducing wellness programs, and taking up initiatives that may encourage obese employees to lose weight and stay fit. However, the fact that obese people are treated differently is on the rise. Being fat does affect the perspective of the employer in many ways. Hence, efforts should be taken to reduce this prejudice, which is morally and legally wrong. It is very important for people who face stigma, and suffer from anti-fat prejudice, to raise their voice against any such issues.
In the whole process of biased mindset toward obese employees, many employers overlook their credibility, skills, and potential, which again, can be counted as a loss. Not every obese employee is slow and dull. Also, not every fit employee has the best of skills and capacities.