At The Active Times, we can count off a zillion reasons for being fit. Here is another one to consider in National Employee Wellness Month: Being fit can improve your chances of landing that new job.
Businesses of all sorts are starting to do what specialist employers like pro sports teams have long done — give potential new hires a medical exam as part of the interview process. Benefitspro.com, a website for human-resources professionals, says employers in at least 40 states are now doing this. It sees it as an extension of the drug and alcohol testing that has been commonplace for years.
The process is called job-specific functional testing — but that just means a physical assessment of whether the potential new hire has the physical capacity to do the job for which he or she has applied. The tests must be specific to the physical requirements that are essential for the job, so they don’t fall foul of anti-discrimination laws. This sort of testing is a rare example of physical exams permitted pre-offer under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Job candidates are typically put through a series of pushing, pulling and lifting exercises, as well has having their heart rates and biomechanics checked out while performing basic physical tasks. If your prospective new job involves, say climbing a ladder, even only now and then, and your balance is wobbly, that could raise a red flag of injury risk. But so could bad posture if your new job involves keyboard work. It could signal a higher risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. If you are used to working out in the gym and regularly exercising, you are more likely to fly through these tests better than those who do not.
The incentive for employers is straightforward — fewer worker compensation claims for on-the-job injuries, fewer sick days, and less lost productivity. Don’t think the sources of all those lie just in places of arduous physical work that is notoriously dangerous. One half of those costs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is attributable to back and neck injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis and other musculoskeletal system disorders. Fit people are likely to have better biomechanics and to be less susceptible to many musculoskeletal system disorders.
Hiring fit people, though, doesn’t get employers off the hook for poorly designed working conditions or tolerating unsafe working practices. Nor does it lessen the benefits of you staying fit once you have landed that new dream job.