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inside FEATURES Fit, healthy


employees make a fit, healthy


business


By Paul Waters a health, fitness & wellbeing specialist and owner of Balance Health and Fitness


E


mployee wellbeing is not a new idea. In the 1870s, the Cadbury brothers built their new factory, including spacious houses, sports and recreation facilities, gardens and playgrounds for


workers’ children. Day trips to the countryside and reduced rail fares were agreed for workers. The brothers felt that England should be as good a place to work in as it was to live in and that a happy workforce would be a productive one. We’ve come a long way since then, but ensuring the wellbeing of employees is just as important, if not more so.


So what is employee wellbeing? It incorporates a range of areas, including: • Physical health • Emotional and psychological health • Social health • Opportunities for development • Environmental health • Wealth and living standards


With such a broad range of considerations, employee wellbeing must take a multidisciplinary approach, including health and fitness initiatives, health and safety, ensuring work-life balance, creating opportunities for socialising, building a culture where employees feel valued and that they have opportunities to progress and develop. Why spend time and money on your employees’ health and fitness? Doing so offers you a wide range of benefits, including:


• Increasing performance and productivity. A report from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) showed that fitter, healthier staff are more creative, better problem solvers, and stay with you longer.


• Decreasing absenteeism. According to London’s Business Case for Employee Health and Wellbeing Report (2012), a company with 250 employees loses on average £4,800 a week as a result of sickness absence. Most of this absence comes from illnesses that are far less common in fitter, healthier people, stress, back and joint pain, and cardiovascular disease.


• Legal protection. Exercise is proven to boost mood and strengthen back muscles, whilst good nutrition is known to reduce depression risk. Promoting a healthy workforce may help protect against absence and decrease the load on your HR department (or you if you don’t have one).


24 insight SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016


• Making you an attractive proposition. Getting the best employees is hard these days, so offering things that make you stand out, like health and wellbeing packages, can help you attract and retain the best people in your sector.


There are multiple ways you can create a culture of health and wellbeing, in a manner that will be unique to how your business operates.


Here are five simple but powerful things I’ve seen done in the companies I’ve worked with:


1. Start small, simple and low cost. Get water filters for the office or just jugs of water with chopped lemons and limes. Have an office fruit bowl for staff, or do deals with local deli’s to provide healthy snacks at reduced costs for employees.


2. Make active commuting achievable. You can do this by creating a secure space to store bikes, installing a shower/changing area, linking up with a nearby gym, or getting involved in cycle to work schemes.


3. Create partner deals with local health and fitness companies to offer discounts for employees. Gyms will always be keen to discuss corporate discounts, but you may also find sports clubs and health food shops will do the same.


4. Book up a team challenge. This might be a charity walk, run or cycle ride, an obstacle course or something more appealing to your team like rock climbing, golf or cookery lessons; anything that gets them actively engaged and moving. Rembember to consider how to make events appealing and accessible to all.


5. Providing short, optional lunchtime workshops on suitable health and fitness topics can be a great way to engage employees in improving their own health, fitness and wellbeing.


Although employee wellbeing covers a broad range of areas, how you build it into your business should be carefully considered and based on what you as a business need, who your employees are, what they desire and the resources you can put in.


www.balancehealthandfitness.co.uk


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