The Benefits of Promoting Physical Activity in the Workplace
Article revised on 4 April 2018
It’s a fact: Physical activity has no downside. It’s good for people individually, and it enables organizations to rely on employees who are healthy and high performing. Yet, according to data collected by Statistics Canada, three quarters of Canadians live a sedentary lifestyle. Your organization can help reverse the cycle and encourage its teams to be more active. How? By providing them with facilities and programs that enable their staff to increase their activity level in the workplace.
Physical activity: A worthwhile investment
More and more, organizations are coming to understand that they have everything to gain from encouraging their employees to be active. There are many advantages:
- Reduced stress and greater psychological balance: There is ample evidence that physical activity is beneficial for stress management. Among other things, physical activity boosts the secretion of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine: our feel-good hormones.
- Work-life balance: Between working and meeting family obligations, adopting an active lifestyle and a balanced diet can sometimes seem like a high-wire act. By having access to the facilities they need in order to be physically active, your employees will more easily be able to incorporate a quick half-hour of exercise into their daily routine without sacrificing time with family.
- Performance and productivity: It goes without saying that employees who are more in shape are able to perform better and be more productive. They’re more hard-working, able to think better and prepared to give their best effort.
- Team spirit: Promoting group fitness sessions will not only allow your employees to be in better shape; it will also improve cohesiveness.
- Better staff retention: Employees who know that their employer cares about the health of their team members are more inclined to stay with the company.
A structured approach: the key to success
There are a number of things your company can do to promote physical activity. For example, it can install bike racks and provide shower and change areas for employees who ride their bike to work or set aside a room where a yoga instructor can give lessons.
That said, if your organization wants to adopt a more structured approach, one that could eventually qualify it for Healthy Enterprise certification, certain conditions must be met:
- Get senior management on board: When executives are personally invested in the health and wellness of their staff, they set a good example and inspire others. What’s more, they convey a strong message that will resonate among their teams.
- Find out what your employees’ interests are: A short questionnaire will give you a good idea of what most employees will enjoy and enable you to engage your staff and meet the needs they express.
- Communicate the change: In order for all employees to feel comfortable being physically active on work premises, you need to introduce a healthy work culture to the organization. An effective communication is often necessary to establish the parameters for physical activity in the workplace.
- Evaluate the impact of your initiatives: Greater number of active employees and participants in group activities, increased use of facilities… Try to quantify the effects of your actions, and change your approach, if necessary. Since your objective is to get your employees moving more, it’s in your interest to take the proper initiatives.
There are numerous ways to promote physical activity on work premises. The investment is well worth it. If done well, your initiatives will yield results, and you will not be long in patting yourself on the back for opting to instill a health and wellness culture throughout your organization.
Want to encourage your employees to adopt healthy lifestyle habits?
Discover the VIVA workplace health and wellness program.