Did you know you can increase productivity within your business, reduce absenteeism, retain staff for longer and optimise your business performance—all with the help of some physical activity? Lucy Tomlinson of Kent Sport explains how.
An unhealthy workforce leads to an unhappy workplace. According to the British Heart Foundation, each year 140 million working days are lost to sickness absence in the UK, costing UK businesses an estimated £29 billion. While presenteeism—attending work despite being sick—is valued at an average cost to employers of £605 per employee per year, thanks to reduced productivity. Then there is the financial cost to British businesses of mental ill health, estimated at a further £26 billion per year. Add on huge recruitment and training costs and lost revenue incurred by a high staff turnover and the impact of an unhealthy workforce can be massive.
It’s easy to see, then, how an active, healthy workforce means a happy, healthy business. It means increased productivity; greater staff retention and lower rates of early retirement due to ill health; less absenteeism and a faster return to work after illness; fewer workplace injuries; reduced costs to train new staff; improvements in communications; and a more positive corporate image. So, if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to invest in your workplace health and wellbeing.
On average, we spend 60% of our waking hours at work and most of this time is spent sitting. Being inactive is the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality. However, just 150 minutes of activity a week, or 20-30 minutes every day, is all that is needed to improve a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Being active has many positive effects on work performance, but it can also improve motivation, energy and stress levels. That is where the Kent Workplace Challenge comes in—encouraging, motivating and supporting Kent’s Workforce to make being active fun rather than a chore.
Across the county, over 2,000 employees in 300 workplaces are signed up to Kent’s Workplace Challenge, and its free online motivational tool which monitors your daily activity and motivates you to be more active. Liz, a recent ‘convert’, commented: “I’m not normally an active or competitive person, but the Workplace Challenge has encouraged me to get up and keep moving, even on days when all I want to do is sit with my feet up. Colleagues are now used to seeing me jog on the spot at the printer, or pacing while on the phone—as every step counts!”
Making small changes over a prolonged period is the best way to introduce more physical activity into our busy lives. Bringing bite size chunks of exercise into and around our working day is the way to go. It’s as easy as a brisk ten-minute walk before work, a midday-mile with colleagues, a game of office table tennis or perhaps a walking meeting.
Barbara, another challenge member, added: “I got involved in the Workplace Challenge after a colleague arranged “Walking Wednesdays” as a part of the Challenge, and we’ve been working up a sweat in the lunch hour encouraging as many staff to join us”.
Team building and staff away days are another great way to get staff active, boost staff morale and create a positive company image. The annual Kent & Medway Business Games is popular with local employers to engage staff in sport and activity in a fun, relaxed environment.
At the games, 20 teams from business across Kent come together for an afternoon of fun-filled activities and challenges that include games such as dodgeball, pickleball and sitting volleyball, all designed to ensure everyone can take part, no matter how active or inactive they currently are.
David, who was part of a team from BAE Systems last year commented: “What a fantastic event! BAE Systems has over 1300 staff, but six people from different departments (who didn’t previously know each other) came together on the day to represent the organisation. We instantly clicked as a team, and it was great to try new sports and activities. There was a lot of social interaction, and we came away from the event on a real high. We’re already looking forward to taking part this year.”
If all this sounds like a brilliant idea, but you don’t know where to start with your business then perhaps we can help by training a member of your team to become an activity champion. On our structured course, we give attendees the skills, knowledge and resources to promote better health and wellbeing and to increase participation in sport and physical activity across their organisations.
Zoe, from SouthEast Water, attended a recent course and found it gave her great ideas: “Today’s workshop has given us a real focus. We’ve decided to form a wellbeing steering group and start to implement some of the things we have taken from today”.
While Nicola from Kings Hill Recruitment felt it better equipped her to support and encourage her colleagues: “The stats used in the Business Case for increasing activity are excellent motivators which I will use to encourage more participation”.
So there you have it, a healthy workforce really does mean a healthy business! And we have lots of ways to help you and your colleagues to become more healthy. If you would like to find out more visit our website where you can sign up for this year’s Business Games if you’re quick, or why not pop along to our stand at Kent Vision LIVE.