Obesity is a growing problem in the United States, as a human resource professional you may be wondering how this may affect your job. Disease co-morbidity related to obesity is sky rocketing. Heart disease and coronary artery disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are all disorders or diseases related to obesity.
The misconception that may come into play is that obesity is just a lifestyle choice. Collectively the diseases related to obesity are reportedly worse than those of heavy smokers or drinkers. When related to the workplace the loss of productivity, inability to perform job duties and absenteeism are the manifestations of this disease.
Weight related discrimination happens every day and people are beginning to realize that we need laws in place to stop this discrimination. Consequently, there has been an increase in backing for laws to ban employers from not giving promotions, refusing to hire, or firing of competent workers based entirely on their weight. Employers need to keep in mind that they may be required to accommodate an obese worker so that they can execute the vital tasks of the job, if they qualify under the ADA.
Some things to consider with helping in handling obesity in the workplace are:
- Consider requests made by an employee for accommodations carefully. Perform a timely and good faith investigation to see what the best course of action is.
- Check on the disability policies and work on educating managers in how to deal with obese staff.
- Be conscientious of weight related harassment and prevention of it.
- Remember to focus on any applicant’s ability to perform the vital functions of the job. Train any other hiring personnel on stopping discrimination of hiring based on weight.
Ultimately promote wellness in your workplace. Encourage healthier habits in eating, smoking cessation programs, or weight loss incentives. Your workplace will be healthier and happier in the end.