University of Bolton’s staff stay fit with a health and wellbeing initiative

The University of Bolton has a pretty fit workforce thanks to a health and wellbeing initiative put together by its HR department and management at its on-site sports centre.

The university secured funding from Sport England which has helped it to offer staff a 50% discount on the use of, and classes at, the university’s sports centre when they sign up to the fitness challenge.

Pozz Lonsdale, sports centre manager, says: “We looked at how we could reduce sickness absence by introducing a wide range of physical activities with monitoring and evaluation being at the forefront of that. We consulted with staff and [the result] was very much [employee] orientated.”

The centre put on a range of activities for staff such as trampolining, climbing, and badminton and it has also run a staff snowboarding and ski trip, horse riding and mountain biking sessions. Most activities take place at lunchtime or after work. Classes such as yoga and Pilates, for example, are run at lunchtime. Health and lifestyle assessments, however, have often taken place during work time, as line managers understand the importance of them.

“The HR department has driven this forward as much as the sports department has so we have had high-level support and you can’t underestimate the value of that,” says Lonsdale.

Some 210 of the university’s 660 employees have joined the challenge.

Shirley Silcock, HR community officer, reports 85% of absence at the university is among staff who have not signed up to the challenge, while the remainder is among those that have. Employees are categorised as green (very active), amber (active, but want to do more) and red (not currently active).

“Of [employees] on the challenge who have had [periods of] absence, those in the green group have not got any mental illness absence issues. I can’t stress enough how having fun and being social plays a big part in the wellbeing of those members of staff,” explains Lonsdale.