The method by which Americans do their work has changed over the years, along with country’s waistline. More than 78 million U.S. adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The nature of work in this country has changed dramatically over the past two decades,” says David Quezada, vice president of loss control at EMPLOYERS, a Reno, Nevada-based workers’ compensation insurance provider. “Jobs have become more sedentary and there are fewer opportunities for workers to get up and move around.”

That’s why promoting workplace wellness is critical, Quezada says, and small businesses aren’t doing enough. A huge majority, 77%, of companies with fewer than 100 employees  don’t provide non-traditional work stations such as treadmill desks, standup desks or balance balls, according to a recent study by EMPLOYERS, which surveyed 506 small businesses. Nearly 30% of employers said their employees usually sit for more than an hour at a time.

Forty-two percent of small businesses don’t give monitor stands for employees who mainly work on computers, the survey found. “Small businesses should become more proactive about creating workplace environments and enforcing policies that promote employee health and wellbeing,” Quezada says.

Time away from work is important

Many employees at small businesses aren’t taking enough time away from work, EMPLOYERS found. Of those who primarily sit at a computer all day, 55% are encouraged to take routine breaks — and 23% of workers often wait three or four hours before taking a break.

A large portion of employees, 42%, don’t use all their time off each year, the study found. Small business owners are even worse — 65% have worked during a planned vacation. The employers have the responsibility of changing those habits, Quezada says.

“Creating a culture of workplace safety starts at the top,” he says. “Business owners and other senior leaders need to set an example by offering healthier workplace environments and enforcing time off policies for themselves and their employees. Our poll found that often doesn’t happen.” 

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