Most of us have heard the old adage of “healthy mind, healthy body”. The stress-busting effects of regular exercise are well documented and the benefits to employees of regular exercise are many. However, few employers actively encourage their staff to exercise during working hours (lunch hour, etc).

Research by scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm revealed that reducing the number of work hours performed by employees in favour of exercise resulted in increased levels of productivity. An employer that introduced a mandatory exercise programme during working hours saw a significant increase in their employee’s performance coupled with a fall in instances of absence due to illness.

So, by getting your staff fit and healthy, your firm should benefit from increased productivity and less absenteeism. The question is, what can an employer do to encourage staff to get into shape?

Managers can lead by example if they are serious about supporting the health and wellbeing of their staff as employees look to their superiors for guidance on how to behave at work. It is advisable to provide the necessary facilities for employees to get active during work hours such as installing exercise equipment in the workplace or offering gym membership for lunchtime sessions. Some offices even provide shower and locker facilities on site (perhaps in the basement of the office) to allow staff to take a lunch time run and then clean up for work in the afternoon.

Your firm could also consider partaking in charity events (as a team) such as a sponsored run. This can improve the reputation of an organisation at the same time as enhancing the health and wellbeing of its employees.
Starting a company sports squad is another initiative that can prove valuable for team building although it is important to avoid excluding certain groups of people so choosing a mixed-gender activity like running or tag-rugby is advisable. The challenge when attempting to incorporate exercise into everyday working life is how not to adversely affect business processes. It is really down to the management team to identify fitness initiatives that will work well within the business without affecting the day-to-day activities of the firm.


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