5 workplace wellness initiatives to increase employee happiness and engagement

Inactivity is a modern-day workplace crisis.

With the average worker spending 36.4 hours at work each week and many jobs becoming increasingly sedentary, a large percentage of working-age adults today do not take part in any form of physical fitness. And that is a BIG problem.

“Almost 500 million people will develop heart disease, obesity, diabetes or other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) attributable to physical inactivity between 2020 and 2030, costing $ 27 billion annually if governments don’t take urgent action to encourage more physical activity among their populations.” – WHO

Health and fitness benefits everyone involved.

Worker health and fitness should be a high priority for employers. Physical and mental well-being are closely associated with a person’s quality of life and longevity, as well as productivity in the workforce.

The challenges of the past two years have been a blunt reminder to businesses of the benefits of good physical and mental health – especially with the abrupt shift to remote working in response to the pandemic and energy crisis. Maintaining a healthy workplace can create a positive ripple-on by lowering absenteeism and improving worker morale.

Fitness initiatives increase employee happiness and engagement.

To create a healthy company culture, businesses need to get inventive and develop workplace wellness policies and initiatives designed to make it easy and fun for employees to get physically active. This may mean encouraging remote workers to participate in a live walk-and-talk meeting or encouraging busy departments to partake in regular yoga sessions or mindfulness activities.

Some businesses invest in workplace wellness programs that encourage healthy habits in their staff. It is even possible to find programs that are personally relevant to the type of employee and appropriate to the existing business culture.

These programs are a fun and helpful way of supporting and tracking individual employee health while shaping a shared experience virtually.

5 benefits of workplace wellness fitness challenges

One way employers can encourage their workforce to get active is by organising a virtual fitness challenge.
Fitness challenges can help reduce stress, improve engagement, reduce turnover, and boost productivity in the workplace. Here are 5 reasons to consider organising a corporate wellness challenge at your workplace:

Productivity

Encouraging exercise and a healthy lifestyle is a win-win situation for employees and employers. Organisations that go out of their way to find ways to motivate their workforce to exercise often reap benefits such as higher morale and camaraderie among employees, enhanced productivity and higher staff retention rates.

Daily physical exercise can improve cognitive skills such as reasoning, creative thinking, attention span and perception. Scientists in Korea even discovered a connection between being physically fit and achieving strong results in exams. Strong aerobic performance and muscular strength had a positive effect on reading achievement, mathematics, and total academic achievement in students.

When an employee is fit and healthy, they are able to focus better, concentrate for longer and use enhanced cognitive skills to make better decisions.

In an Australian study run by the Swinburne’s University and Brain Sciences Institute, researchers found that exercise significantly increases employee happiness, productivity and cognition. Workers that exercised more showed higher overall brain function, better memory and significant increases in alertness and energy levels.

A report published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine explored the health and productivity of 683 workers of different occupations and found that physical activity and fitness had a notable impact on their workplace performance. The more physically active workers completed work of a higher quality and had a more positive influence on their colleagues.

workplace wellness initiatives for today's workforce.

Social interaction

Working from home is the new normal for many of us; however, without the face-to-face communication afforded by daily in-person interactions it can be hard to sustain the kind of camaraderie that comes easily with co-located workplaces.

Independence is great, but working in isolation can be extremely hard, even for the most altruistic employee. For those accustomed to frequent interpersonal engagement, remote working can be difficult to adjust too. This is why, when appropriately implemented, fitness challenges are a great way to cultivate a sense of unity among employees.

Mobile-friendly apps or platforms help employees outside of work to update each other on their exercise headway, inspire each other with supportive comments and organise group activities such as ‘walk and talks’ or team yoga sessions.

Exercise challenges can help them achieve their fitness goals and connect them to coaches and teammates wherever they are based. This makes it easier for distributed teams to participate in office challenges and keep track of everyone’s achievements (and bragging rights) while offering onsite workers a great opportunity to connect with members of other departments that they would not be able to meet otherwise.

workplace wellness initiatives

Anti-burnout, anxiety and stress

Poor stress management costs the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity, according to World Health Organization stress statistics. Work-related stress is a significant health and safety issue and has the ability to ruin an employee’s mental well-being and influence their relationships with coworkers, friends and family.

Several studies have shown that just 10 minutes of exercise each day can alleviate mood disorders such as anxiety or depression by increasing the release of serotonin, endorphins and dopamine in the brain.

This process can improve an individual’s coping mechanisms in stressful situations. By improving their physical and mental fitness, stressed or burnt-out employees can bounce back to a happier, less stressed-out place in life. You know that feeling when you finish a run or an exercise session and feel so much better than before? That feeling is because the area in the brain that reacts to stress is stimulated when you exercise.

Fitness challenges do more than encourage workers to be more active, they can also inspire a positive mindset in the workplace that helps employees feel more comfortable around one another. This reduces hostility and conflict among coworkers and encourages social interaction and positive engagement among colleagues.

Energy Boost

Time constraints are one of the most significant challenges facing remote employees -since, due to work, family, and social commitments, many people struggle to find time in the day to exercise. Exercise can help boost low energy levels –  especially if combined with eating nutritiously and adequate rest. This is because an inactive lifestyle takes a heavy toll on the human body and mind.

When the home is also the office, it can be easy to lose track of working hours and continue working longer than is necessary. This practice, left unchecked, can lead to chronic fatigue.

Chronic fatigue in the workplace is a significant issue. Symptoms include listlessness, demotivation, and a drop in productivity.

The old adage “exercise is the best medicine” is actually scientifically valid when combatting a lack of energy.

Just the simple act of getting up and moving about regularly during the day helps muscles get used, and this boosts the transfer of glucose and oxygen to the brain and body, increasing energy levels. Not getting up regularly has the opposite effect.

In a University of Georgia analysis, Professors Rod Dishman and Tim Puetz analysed seventy controlled trials that registered a total of 6,807 subjects. They found strong support for the role of exercise in reducing fatigue. More than 90% of the studies showed the same thing: regular exercise increases energy and reduces fatigue.

Better Immunity

Exercise is a great way for employees to build up their immunity and immune response. A recent study published in Sports Medicine investigating whether fit people were more resilient to COVID-19 infection found that physical activity is able to regulate and affect virus immunity.

It was found that people who exercise regularly have a 31% lower risk of contracting a community-acquired COVID-19 infection and a 37% lower risk of COVID-19 disease mortality or hospitalisation.

By mixing up strength and aerobic (cardio) exercises, employees can even ward off diseases such as Alzheimer’s due to better production of brain neurotransmitters that enhance memory.

workplace wellness sprintcrowd

Not next week, not tomorrow…

By building education and support into your workplace wellness approach, your employees can become the best versions of themselves.

Sprintcrowd works with business owners and brands to help them improve their health by making exercise accessible to everyone.

By combining real-time data services with audio voice functions, Sprintcrowd is able to provide an entirely new and unique LIVE fitness experience with on-demand features such as replays, solo and recorded runs, interval training sessions and ‘walk and talks’ encouraging users to use the platform when and how it suits them best.

For a free trial, click here.

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