People in lockdown gained approximately two pounds per month. Depending on where you live and how compliant you were, you may have put on more than 20 pounds in the past year. And Americans weren't exactly trim to begin with. Way back in 2018, 42.2 percent of American adults were obese.
The FAA is requiring airlines to up their weight per passenger measurement, because we, the people, are fatter. (Sadly, the airlines are not responding by giving us bigger seats for our bigger behinds.)
I am not going to tell you to lose weight. I'm not going to tell you to implement a companywide wellness program that encourages increasing the number of steps you take each day. Instead, I'm going to tell you to do something that makes a real difference: Buy some chairs designed for fat people.
Now, before someone tells me off for using the word fat, I'm going to point out that this a descriptive term and not a judgmental term. Plus, I'm overweight myself. (Let's just say that I'm a lockdown overachiever.)
You can moan and complain about the impact on your health insurance, or you can rudely and foolishly discriminate against the overweight (which is legal in most but not all states, but immoral in all states). But that doesn't change the reality we live in: Seventy-one percent of the population is either overweight or obese.
Fast Company described clothing company Eloquii's decision to seek out office furniture designed for larger employees. Its goal was to make its employees happier and more engaged.
It's a good plan. There's not a real reason to force people into uncomfortable chairs. If you think it costs extra money to buy bigger chairs, you may want to consider the cost of turnover. Happy employees are likely to stay. Buying an employee a chair that fits can really go a long way, not just toward employee comfort, but toward showing employees that you care about them.
Should the overweight and obese among us lose weight? That's a question for the individual employee and their doctors to decide. It's not something that employers should monitor. What employers should do is make sure that their employees are comfortable, well taken care of, and valued.
If you can do all that for the price of an office chair, isn't that worth it? And if your employees are working from home, it certainly would be a great idea to give each employee a budget for proper office furniture. Having a good place to work really can increase productivity.
But, mainly, it's time to get out of denial. Buy chairs that fit. If you use uniforms, make sure they are designed for the people who wear them--which means focusing on proper fit for non-runway-model bodies. Make sure your dress code is consistent across all body types. (For example, don't tell fat women they need to cover up, while skinny women can wear tight and clingy clothes.)
Do your best to make everyone comfortable at work, and that means accommodating the Covid-15 most of us gained.