Work-life balance is the dream for most, if not all, of us. This is especially true for people who typically have 8-to-5 jobs sitting at a desk all day with little to no exercise. A sedentary lifestyle has become common for adults, with only 21% of the adult population meeting the physical activity guidelines, as indicated in a 2017 paper released by the Sedentary Behavior Research Network (SBRN).
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to various health problems such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases among others. In business, this entails absenteeism and productivity issues that ultimately equate to monetary losses for the company. Employers now more than ever acknowledge the importance of incorporating employee wellness programs in the workplace.
But if your office isn’t quite keen on it, then read up and let human resources know why fitness should be everyone’s goal and how you can start doing it in the workplace.
Reduces absenteeism rate
Having a gym in the office or providing free or discounted gym memberships to employees is a perk everyone will surely benefit from. Wellness programs encourage employees to have healthier habits that contribute to a better immune system and in turn, lower instances of time off from work due to illness or prolonged recuperation needs by employees. In a report presented by Culture Economy, UK staff absences contribute to a £23 billion loss per year. As they say, when it comes to health, prevention is better than cure.
Moreover, having a fit and active lifestyle also gives employees enhanced energy levels and boosts their self-confidence. “I feel revitalized and ready to face the day’s challenges,” says Van Carandang, a phone banker from a US bank based in Manila. Her office has an in-house gym complete with free group class sessions and a personal trainer. She also shares that she has created new friends and gym buddies who support her in her fitness journey.
Helps in managing stress
Overtime workload, fast-approaching deadlines, back-to-back client meetings, last-minute presentations, and irate customers are some common key phrases associated with work-related stress. Fitness encompasses not only physical well-being but also emotional and psychological health. There are corporations that have an employee assistance program that caters to providing free consultations to psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, legal aid, and the like for its employees. This ensures that the work environment supports a holistic approach to wellness.
Provides employee engagement
“I am happy for every opportunity to share to others my passion for dancing,” says John Gallardo, an events manager in a business process outsourcing company in Taguig. His workplace has a dance club that sponsors weekly Zumba, hip-hop, and contemporary dance lessons to its employees on a monthly basis. By creating an avenue for his passion to thrive, the company has in turn gained employees like John who readily provide their talents and skills to the organization. Aside from that, his club also does volunteer activities outside of work and they regularly join dance competitions that bring honor and good publicity for his company.
Keeps employees motivated
Fitness activities like company Fun Runs or friendship games allow employees to move more and nurture camaraderie in the workplace. According to a study by Aviva, “companies can increase attendance rates by 89%” with fitness-related events in the office. Whenever there are fitness-related competitions where employees get noticed for their competency outside of their regular work performance, management not only boosts the morale of its team members but also grooms a positive image for the company, which is vital in business management. Motivated employees have a greater level of appreciation and are more likely to perform well at work which is definitely good for business.
Contributes to overall job satisfaction
One of the basic elements prospective employees are looking for during job-hunting season is a competitive HMO plan (Health Maintenance Organization) or simply, a healthcare plan. When companies invest in their employees’ health, this fosters a long-term relationship and overall job satisfaction. Wouldn’t it be great to know that your company takes care of you whenever you or your loved ones have health emergencies? Aside from government-mandated benefits, some businesses even offer special aid programs for health-related concerns, special benefits for new and expectant mothers, and special considerations for single parents and differently-abled employees.
Improves employee productivity
Dr. Gray Cooper introduced the term ‘presenteeism’ in the mid-90s to identify an employee who may be present at work but is unproductive. Having toxic cultures, management or job-related stressors, lack of cohesion, financial worries, and latent health issues are some of the common drivers for this to happen. With regular exercise, employees are able to combat stress more effectively and thus promote a culture of a nurturing work environment. Additionally, exercise stimulates feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin that are vital to a happy workforce.
Builds a sense of community
Creating sports interest groups in the office and joining inter-company sports competitions is another surefire way to boost a healthy workspace and at the same time, promote solidarity and team building. In my current company, we would even print out banners and create chants, and schedule meet-ups for practice sessions with other employees and their respective family members whenever a championship game is coming up. This setting allows me and my co-workers to support each other outside the office and create stronger bonds of friendship that in turn make a happier work environment.