Exercise among employees is for life, not just lockdown

An active workforce is not just healthy: studies show that it is also more productive, more engaged and – most importantly – happier.  Employers are in a unique position to positively influence engagement in physical activity by their staff and, encouragingly, recent Deloitte research showed that 78% of employers are looking to invest in workplace wellness in the next three years. That’s good to hear but exactly HOW can employers support their staff to be fit and healthy? Especially while many workforces are working remotely or are on furlough and we are still a few weeks’ away from gyms and studios re-opening?

“It’s never been more important to be active to keep you both physically and mentally well,” says Luke Bullen, Gympass CEO UK & IE.  “As we continue to navigate remote working and restrictions with gyms and other facilities still closed, employers need to actively encourage staff to fit activity into their day another way.”

A company which puts the wellness of its staff at the heart of its business will see improved productivity, output and loyalty within its workforce.  The ‘Maximising Your Return on Engagement’ whitepaper from Gympass bears this out, showing that a sense of wellbeing produced 31% higher productivity in employees and 59% greater loyalty. Also cited in the White Paper was Deloitte’s Rise of the Social Enterprise article which showed 60% of employers reported employee wellbeing programme initiatives positively impact employee retention while 61% believe they improve employee engagement and overall productivity. 

Digital activity

The impact of lockdown has really put the need for physical activity into focus and the fitness industry has responded by putting a huge amount of content online. While an opportunity for the ‘fit and focused’, for people who are relatively new to physical activity and online workouts, such a wide choice can be overwhelming.

Gympass was quick to pivot its Gympass Wellness platform to bring a wealth of programmes for exercise, mindfulness and nutrition into one accessible format.  Employees with access to Gympass have found this instant access to leading fitness and wellness apps has really helped cut through the ‘noise’ online and help people choose physical activity solutions to suit them.

For employers whose staff don’t have access to Gympass, it’s worth taking time to search online for activity apps that may appeal to colleagues and signposting them to just a few to get them started.  Ensure they understand they will need to MAKE time to exercise – they won’t just FIND time for this.  It will also help them to:

  • Take time to browse and download their preferred workouts in advance, ready for when they want to exercise.
  • Schedule a set time for exercise each day.
  • Block out time in their diary and commit to it as they would a meeting.
  • Plan a week of sessions that mix up cardio, weights and mindfulness workouts so they have a good range and don’t become bored.  Planning things also means they don’t have to decide on the day what they’re doing – which can be a barrier to even getting started!

If you’re a manager

  • Encourage and respect time taken for exercise among your colleagues.
  • Invite staff to share what they’ve done and talk about this in team meetings to motivate and help others.

“Managers should lead by example and do physical activity sessions themselves,” says Luke.  “Actively sharing what you’ve done will support a culture of prioritising physical wellbeing at work and encourage others to make that time for themselves too.

“I’d recommend signposting employees continuously to ensure they have adequate resources that allow them to be physically active. Encourage them to fit this into their ‘9-5’ by offering flexibility to schedules and be mindful that some will be working around family at home so ensure they know about options that also include family activities.”

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Learning from lockdown

If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that physical activity for health, wellness and productivity has been prioritised by employers.  It has also shown that digital wellness can be highly accessible and effective in getting people into exercise from the comfort of their own home.  In fact, this shift online has seen many previously inactive people make a start as they can access resources and try exercise when before they might have been reluctant to use a gym.  Exercise isn’t just a way to counteract cabin fever during lockdown. Having got physical activity onto their daily schedule, employees should be encouraged to build on this for even better health, wellbeing and job satisfaction outcomes in the future.