Productivity, budgets, utilisation, cash flow and market penetration are all areas that most businesses focus on as they strive for improved performance and growth. However, many organisations are also exploring and implementing ‘healthy’ initiatives that provide the dual benefit of improving the health of their employees, and the business.
Sick days and staff turnover
There are many benefits to regular exercise. One in particular, is the effect that exercise has on the brain. Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed, which can lead to improvements in diet and mental health. Take for example, an employee who has been for a run during their lunch hour. They are less likely to reach for an afternoon pick-me up, such as a chocolate bar at 3 o’clock, than an employee who has sat at their computer all day.
Regular physical exercise can help to prevent or control a wide range of health problems and concerns, which benefits not only the individual, but the organisation they work for as well. Healthy workers naturally take less sick days, and they are also more likely to remain in their job longer. According to a study by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health, voluntary resignations are lower at organisations with a highly effective wellness program (9%), compared to those whose programs are not as effective (14%).
Greater productivity and increased quality of work
Exercise has been proven to increase employee productivity at work and enhance the quality of their work because it increases employee stamina, concentration span and vitality. Researchers at Stockholm University demonstrated that devoting work time to physical activity can in fact lead to higher productivity. In a study that observed 180 dental staff over a 12 month period, they found that workers who spent 2.5 hours per week exercising had higher productivity compared to employees that did no exercise. The increase in productively was largely attributed to the increased stamina and less absenteeism caused by the increase in exercise.
Healthy workplace culture
It is also important to create a healthy workplace culture that complements any healthy workplace initiative. This culture should work to create a sense of core beliefs that promotes workplace health throughout the organisation. A healthy culture often starts at the top, when a good strong leader can inspire commitment and motivate their staff. Such a culture often attracts and retains motivated people that are committed to the business and its beliefs. By creating a sense of core beliefs that everyone in the organisation lives by and supports, a good leader can set expectations around how people treat each other, manage their work and deal with customers.
Investigating healthy initiatives for your business can be extremely worthwhile for both employees and the business. Employees usually feel happier and healthier meaning the business can benefit from greater productivity and increased employee engagement and retention. The potential gains a business can achieve from implementing healthy initiatives are worth exploring. Ideas to get started include team-building exercises, leadership training for senior managers, subsidised gym memberships or sports equipment, work based team sports, a “biggest loser” contest, encouraging lunchtime runs and arranging for external speakers, such as nutritionists, to speak on the premises.