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Moving Towards Financial Fitness
It’s one thing to talk about getting fit but it’s a whole different story when it comes to encouraging others to do so. A survey undertaken by 3Gem for AXA PPP Healthcare showed that 61 per cent of UK employees say their employer doesn’t encourage them to lead an active lifestyle.
In addition, the majority of those who exercise before work say it makes them feel more productive, with benefits including improved concentration and focus that can last throughout the day.
Exercise also makes it easier for employees to handle stress for a further positive impact on productivity. But how can employers encourage their team to take up the habit?
National Fitness Day
The good news is that there is plenty of support and resources available. As part of key government initiatives encouraging employers to support their employees to adopt healthier habits, National Fitness Day is now a calendar staple. Taking place every year on 26th September, this campaign from UK Active brings workplace fitness to the top of the agenda.
With AXA the workplace partner of National Fitness Day, this is a key initiative that celebrates “the fun of fitness and physical activity.” It draws attention to the many unhealthy habits that offices put upon us, such as enduring a crowded morning commute only to sit hunched over the computer all day.
National Fitness Day supports employers in supporting people to balance work and body and creating a workplace culture where being active is integral.
A Supportive Workplace
Being too sedentary for long periods of time is associated with serious health risks, and many UK adults are simply not getting enough proper exercise to avoid such dangers.
Aside from the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer and other major diseases, the negative impact on mental wellbeing is also significant.
Exercise is the best natural remedy for anxiety and depression, helping people to gain a healthy emotional balance which in turns means better workplace productivity.
When the employer demonstrates efforts to create a workplace culture where being active is the norm, this establishes a workplace as one that is supportive of their employees and where every member of the team feels valued.
How Can You Get Your Employees Involved?
The focal point of National Fitness Day is a nationwide initiative to get the day off to a “Flying Start” by pushing back the start of the working day by one hour. This spare hour is then dedicated to giving staff time to exercise and come into work afterwards feeling refreshed and energised.
There are plenty of other ways that you can get your team involved, depending on the size of the team, the workplace itself and your preferred initiatives.
It’s not always easy to know how to approach creating a healthier workplace. Good habits are not formed overnight, so we suggest starting small and working your way up using the following strategies (as recommended by AXA):
- Promote standing-up meetings in suitable areas
- Encourage employees to use the stairs instead of lifts and make these easily accessible
- Support ‘walk to work’ and ‘cycle to work’ schemes. Make these more appealing to employees by including secure storage for bikes on-site and changing facilities with showers and lockers.
- Speak with your local gym or fitness facility to see whether they can provide discounted employee rates
- Make things fun! Create a competition to encourage engagement and team spirit.
Attaining a Healthy Workplace Balance
AXA also encourage employers to adjust their workplace design to be more conducive for physical activity. This might mean centralising commonly used devices such as printers and the water machine meaning employers need to get up from their desks and walk around in order to use them.
It also means encouraging a healthy workplace balance whereby short breaks away from the computer and the desk are encouraged, not frowned upon.
This means employees can carve out opportunities during the day to stretch their legs and give their minds a rest to improve physical and emotional wellbeing.
Bringing Exercise to the Workplace
There are also more tangible ways to encourage employees to integrate exercise in their working life. It shouldn’t be a case of relying on employees to make the effort to go to the gym before or after work (although efforts to encourage this should of course be made).
But more and more workplaces are taking a very active role in bringing activity to their team, some supporting lunchtime activities such as yoga or walking groups, and others by introducing gym equipment into the office.
With the benefits of even short bursts of exercise lauded by health experts, employers can expect improved performance all round.
A Three-Pillar Strategy
Raising awareness of National Fitness Day is also about combatting negative workplace pressures that may impact an employee’s ability or willingness to engage in physical exercise.
Excess stress, overlong commutes and a workday without any clear time out and hurried lunch breaks can all contribute to a negative environment.
Based on their own research as well as recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and Public Health England and Business in the Community. AXA recommends building a three-pillar strategy based on Culture, Environment and Support.
This means creating a strategy that is inclusive and engaging where employees are provided with the necessary support, environment and opportunities to make physical activity a reality.
Your Strategy Checklist
- Consult with your employees to identify any barriers they face to being more active as well as anything they would like to see with the new health initiative.
- Consider the different types of employee – different levels of fitness and any health conditions as well as different working hours (e.g. shift workers, part time employees)
- Create a marketing strategy to communicate effectively, offer easy access to essential resources and encourage engagement
- Set benchmarks and timeframes
- Assign skilled and informed line managers and key employees to monitor the ongoing success of the strategy and evaluate employee feedback for ongoing success
Above all, stay in touch with your team! Promoting healthier workplace initiatives should be fun, engaging and rewarding. It should work to foster and strengthen a team atmosphere
Of course, it’s not just physical and mental fitness that businesses should focus on. Financial fitness is just as important.
For example, offering your employees access to financial education can prove invaluable in helping them make effective and essential life decisions, and reducing stress which is one of the most common causes of workplace absenteeism.
For more advice on how to incorporate National Fitness Day and health initiatives into your workplace structure, as well as any advice on employee benefits, contact Vintage Corporate today.
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