Encouraging fitness at work as part of your wellbeing program

03 / 12 / 19

The summer months seem like a distant memory…. The clocks have now gone back, the days are shorter and a frost is in the air. It’s that time of year whereby energy levels can waiver and bugs spread like wildfire. But how can you ensure your employee’s energy levels remain at their peak to ensure a productive and engaged workforce? A healthy body and mind is key and so a healthy diet and plenty of exercise can help to improve a plethora of work-related issues from decreasing sickness and absence to improving productivity and performance. And the following blog explains why.

Reduction in absenteeism

Sickness absence isn’t to be taken for granted, with costs to UK businesses equating to an estimated £29 billion and an average loss of 6.3 days each year, per employee. One of the leading causes of absenteeism at work is stress and last year alone, 0.6 million cases were cited across the UK.

Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with the receptors in your brain which reduce your perception of pain. Similarly, they trigger a positive feeling in the body and elevate your mood. According to a recent UK study, one of the most common reasons to exercise is to regulate and reduce stress and anxiety levels. As a result, it’s fair to say that encouraging fitness in the workplace is vital to improving stress related absence as well as general absenteeism.

Improving sleep

A poor night’s sleep can wreak havoc with your cognitive function, memory and productivity levels. Scientific evidence shows that exercise can help with a variety of sleep issues, including:

  • Improving quality of sleep – Physical activity increases the amount of time spent in deep sleep (the most physically restorative sleep phase) This type of sleep helps: support cardiac health, boost immune function and control anxiety and stress.
  • Increase amount of sleep – Exercise has been shown to increase the duration of your nightly rest: You expend energy and so naturally you will need more re-cooperation time. In particular, regular exercise which is part of a routine, is of particular benefit.
  • A reduction in stress and anxiety levels – As detailed previously, exercise can help to reduce stress levels. Stress is a common cause of sleep issues, including trouble falling to sleep, sleep restlessness and intermittent waking.
  • Natural aid for insomnia – Studies suggest that aerobic exercise in particular can help to treat insomnia symptoms. In addition, the benefits of exercise tend to kick-in over time, rather than instantaneously. It can also lower the severity of conditions such as sleep apnea.

Reduce presenteeism

Presenteeism is the act of being present at work when one is too medically or mentally ill to be productive. Shockingly, presenteeism is thought to cost companies three times more than absenteeism! A recent study showed that sedentary employees are 50% more likely to have a high presenteeism rate.

Improvement in employee retention

On-site gyms and/or fitness classes, or, reduced rate gym memberships are considered one of the most favored work perks an employer can offer as part of their retention strategy. As a result, this will also help with your recruitment strategy as candidates will be looking for more than just a remuneration package and standard benefits. Taking into account the fact that exercise helps reduce anxiety and depression, relieving symptoms of stress and promoting a positive mood, incorporating fitness and wellbeing into your business culture will help to keep employees at the top of their game, committed to their role and objectives and the overall business – A fantastic tool for employee retention.

Increase in productivity and brain power

Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.

Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment. Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. Exercise is known to combat procrastination and increase brain power by helping focus, motivation and creativity/innovation.

Teamwork

Teamwork makes the dream work right? So, why not use exercise to bring your teams and departments together. This could through encouraging them to exercise together, play sport together or take part in an off-site team building activity. Sport and recreation is proven to improve interpersonal relationships , improve communication, increase productivity and improve company morale.

Fitness. Sport. Exercise. Whatever the activity, be sure to promote it within your business to ensure that you reap from one of the many benefits detailed above. Think about this as part of your overall wellbeing program and embed this within your company culture to ensure a noticeable and measurable lift in productivity, engagement, innovation, morale and motivation as well as a reduction in absenteeism and presenteeism.

If you need support with your overall company culture or wellbeing program please contact us on: 01453 297557 or email enquiries@peepshr.co.uk.


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