Last reviewed 14 July 2021
There are ways to promote fitness that will improve wellbeing, motivation and productivity rather than just irritating your employees. Nicola Jagielski of Health Assured reports.
Many of us spend our day mostly sitting at desks, working with computers, getting up occasionally for a cup of tea. With more than a year in and out of lockdown, fitness isn’t necessarily at the front of our minds.
But with 6.9 million working days a year lost to musculoskeletal disorders in the UK, it’s worth promoting the idea of health and fitness in the workplace.
What are the benefits of fit and healthy employees?
There are several important ways that promoting health and fitness in the workplace brings benefits to your business.
1. It reduces absence
Workplace absence is predicted to cost the UK economy a staggering £26 billion by 2030. Fitter employees are much less likely to need time off due to sickness, as a healthy body is much better at fighting off illnesses, and recovers faster should they fall victim.
It means better performance
Employees who exercise report more concentration, motivation and energy than those who remain sedentary. Statistics show that exercising can increase work output by as much as 21%.
It brings teams together
A shared goal that doesn’t necessarily involve day-to-day working tasks is a great way to foster team cohesion. Whether it’s a weight loss programme, training for a sponsored 5K run or weekly yoga sessions together, you’ll find that people bond quickly over physical effort — and bonded teams are productive teams.
How to promote employee fitness
A good employee fitness and wellness programme in the workplace should be voluntary, non-intrusive and inclusive of people of all fitness levels and abilities. While you might be an avid climber or mountain biker, not everyone in the office will have the right equipment or head for heights!
Start off small. Encourage people to walk to work instead of driving, or even just to get off the bus a stop early. An employee fitness programme doesn’t have to mean everyone hits the gym on Monday morning. Try to avoid coming over as patronising — humour is a good approach.
Ideas that will increase employee fitness and productivity in the workplace include the following.
Standing desks: these might not seem especially active, and really they’re not, but standing occasionally rather than sitting all day encourages the use of different muscle groups and will help prevent musculoskeletal disorders. Simply moving a little more brings benefits.
App challenges: some wellness apps allow you to organise teams and issue challenges. Something like the total number of steps by a team in a month, for instance, with the winning team getting recognition and a small prize.
Charity activities: wherever you are, there are charities organising sponsored runs all the time. Get people signed up to something short like a 5K run — it’ll encourage exercise and camaraderie.
Make it an employee benefit
Rather than trying to put together an employee fitness programme yourself, you could always use an external company. Many places offer discounted corporate gym memberships, apps with step trackers, and great deals on healthy food. Providing an employee benefit like this will boost your reputation and enhance employee morale.