Only Thin People Need Apply!


Oh dear, the world’s biggest (financially obese) retailer has been caught red handed (The Times 27th October 2005) dreaming up ways of only recruiting `thin` and `fit` employees. Wal-Mart is considering incorporating a `physical` component into a worker’s daily routine as a means of trying to dissuade unhealthy applicants from applying for jobs in the first place. The idea is that staff working on check-out tills will be asked to undertake other more physical duties during a shift. These other physical duties have not been fully described, but I can think of a few straight away such as trolley racing at lunchtime and doing away with store security so that cashiers can run after shoplifters.

So what’s in this for Wal-mart? Well, a leaked memo reckons they could potentially save £560 million a year by 2011, which is about £400 per employee (reduced absenteeism, lower benefits costs etc). However, I think I’ve found a flaw in their proposal and that is they will soon struggle to find anyone who isn’t obese if US and global rates don’t begin to decline – the World Health Organisation now estimate that a billion adults are overweight.

This story made me chuckle because it reminded me of a very large UK health club chain that made the headlines for very similar reasons a while back. A leaked company memo advised clubs to stop buying large size staff tracksuits as they were not in the business of employing `fat` staff! Seems to me that health clubs should be employing staff that are `representative` of their general membership, but I know there’s a fat chance of that happening!

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