As January draws to a close, it’s time to take stock on how the New Year is shaping up and whether your corporate resolutions are still standing.
A few weeks ago we issued a call to action for businesses to take a vested interest in the health and wellbeing of their employees; we asked them to—literally—step up their efforts to engage employees and get them moving throughout the workday.So, three weeks in, how are you doing?
Increasingly, studies show that providing opportunities for employees to integrate movement into their work environment results in a healthier, happier and more productive workforce.
Forbes magazine online recently featured an article on the advantages of moving in the workplace.
“Interspersing short movements and exercises throughout the workday can boost employee energy, engagement and efficiency,” says sports scientist, Jack Groppel, one of the founding members of Organizations in MOTION. “Whether it’s stretching periodically in your cubicle or walking to a co-worker’s desk rather than sending that intra-office email, small actions can go a long way toward improving both individual and company performance.”
In 2012, Groppel and his colleagues at Organizations in MOTION piloted a three-month program within their own organization and at the New Balance shoe company’s Boston and Lawrence, MA locations. The program encouraged employees to integrate some form of physical activity into their routines every 30 minutes.
More than 750 employees were invited to participate in the pilot and of the 239 who completed a post-program survey, more than half said they increased their level of physical activity at work and 42 percent reported heightened engagement and concentration.
Groppel’s research isn’t the only being done that point towards results that extend beyond purely a physical benefit to employees. Employers understand more and more that movement in the workplace relates not only to physical health but also to intellectual performance, and offer both mental health and economic benefits as well.
For example, a 2014 study conducted by Nike Corporation and Active Living Research examined the co-benefits of designing communities—including workplace communities—for active living. Results indicated that companies that offer worksite physical activity policies and programs, as well as furniture design that enable employees to engage physically while still being productive, saw strong evidence indicating positive mental health and economic benefits.Effective change begins at the top
For most companies, successfully integrating movement into the workplace ultimately begins at the top.
Scott Goudeseune, CEO of the American Council of Exercise (ACE), and president of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity's (NCPPA) board, agrees that the involvement and initiative of leadership is a critical component. “There must be clear, strong, and ongoing support—beginning with the CEO—for workplace health and wellness programs to take root."
A recent Future of Business and Tech article addressed this shift in corporate leadership very succinctly. It asserts that a growing number of savvy corporate leaders are investing in employee health programs because of what they contribute to “capability, culture, engagement and ultimately business performance in the work place.”
The same article cited a 2015 study conducted by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s Corporate Health Achievement Award winners, which showed companies that have been recognized for having exemplary integrated health and safety programs outperformed the S&P 500 average.
And if that isn’t enough to convince you, an earlier study by Towers Watson concluded that “employers with highly effective health and productivity programs generate 20 percent more revenue per employee, realize a 16.1 percent higher market value and deliver 57 percent higher shareholder return.”
Meanwhile, in Canada, for each corporate dollar invested in corporate wellness programs and initiatives, Health Canada reports a $3.40 return on investment (ROI) through reduced turnover, productivity gains, and decreased medical claims.It’s not too late to start
The logical conclusion to draw here is that it’s not too late to review your business practices when it comes to workplace health and wellness and begin implementing positive change.
Offering tools and equipment which give employees alternative options to desk-sitting for extended periods of time, such as sit-stand desks, treadmill desks, or desk pedals, sets employees up for success while still allowing them to be productive in the workplace.
If the company budget is smaller, you can offer incentives that engage employees, such as step competitions or movement challenges, or subsidies for items like activity trackers, which motivate employees to get up and move around, take the stairs, participate in walking meetings, and so on.
Start with a visit to Fitneff.ca for great tips and tools for integrating movement into the work place. The WalkTop Treadmill Desk by Fitneff allows you to incorporate movement into your day at work or at home.
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Today, on International Women’s Day, I have chosen to profile Laurel Walzak, the female co-founder of Fitneff Inc. Laurel has been successful in so many areas of her career - first as a trailblazer in the sports business industry, then as an entrepreneur and most recently as an Assistant Professor of Sports Media at Ryerson University.
Laurel also spends a great deal of her time and energy outside the office in efforts to advance the careers of young women who are making their start. I asked Laurel some important questions about the role of women in business, and the role that she plays in advocating for other women in her life.