How to create a more resilient and effective workforce

effective workplace

When it comes to running a successful business, having a resilient and effective workforce is paramount. But what does it actually take to create an environment that promotes productivity, engagement, and creativity?

Recently, there has been a growing body of research proving that exercise plays an important role in employee job performance and overall well-being.

Exercise provides numerous benefits for businesses seeking to build an agile, productive team – but only if done right.  In this blog post, we will explore how physical activity can be used as part of your HR strategy to increase resilience amongst employees and drive business performance.

Movement and productivity are intrinsically connected

Professional coaches and athletes have long recognized that maintaining high performance requires intervals of intensity followed by rest and recovery. But in the workplace, rest and recovery recommendations are usually not enough.

Pandemic-induced burnout and stress persist in today’s workplaces- even as we attempt to return to some sort of normalcy. 

If a company manages employee stress properly, however, the chances of burnout are significantly reduced. 

Regularly scheduled breaks from work to exercise can help employees combat workplace stress and improve cognitive functioning, social connections and creativity. 

Leeds Metropolitan University studied the effects of exercise on office workers’ performance and found that those who exercised on workdays performed better afterwards.

In the study, over 200 office workers at a variety of companies self-reported their activity and performance on a daily basis. Those that visited the gym on workdays performed better at work and reported heightened productivity, time management, and all-around calmer interactions with colleagues.

They also reported feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated, both individually and collectively and better able to navigate stress and complexity.

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Over the past two years, life has been extraordinarily stressful for many of us. It is in these challenging times, that businesses with engaged and resilient workforces are most likely to rise up and perform more effectively.

This is particularly relevant in today’s digital work environment, where we increasingly rely on devices as means of socializing and operating.

Multichannel communication is not something our brains were designed to deal with –  and changing tasks frequently exhausts the brain and uses important glucose reserves for cognitive and physical performance.

This can lead to cognitive decline by affecting blood sugar levels and stress. 

High blood sugar levels if left unchecked can damage blood vessels in a person’s brain responsible for carrying essential oxygen-rich blood around the body.

Too little blood can cause cells to atrophy and die. In the long run, this can lead to dementia, and in the short term, it causes problems with memory, problem-solving and chronic fatigue.

Constantly overwhelming the brain with high blood sugar can cause employees to experience a downward spiral whenever they encounter stress in their lives – because the brain is not working at optimal capacity.

Fifteen-minute breaks improve brain health

Small frequent movement breaks every couple of hours are an easy remedy to irregular blood sugar levels and cognitive decline caused by an inactive lifestyle. 

Short bursts of exercise clear glucose from the bloodstream and then store it in muscle tissues for future use when needed. The simple act of moving every hour can help sedentary employees working in high-stress environments feel more energized and alert, and ultimately ward off cognitive decline and depression. It is that easy!

A study conducted by University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer and colleagues in 2012 provides further evidence of the cognitive benefits of exercise, particularly when it comes to attention fatigue.

Participants in the study spent three days hiking outdoors concentrating only on their walking activity. There was a significant improvement in creativity and problem-solving performance for 50% of the walkers after they returned home, leading the scientists to conclude that exercising without distractions increases cognitive performance because it simultaneously calms the mind while allowing it to concentrate. 

How to incorporate exercise breaks into your workplace for increased productivity and resilience

Investing in workplace health campaigns makes good business sense.

Not only do these initiatives provide employees with the physical and mental health benefits of a healthier lifestyle, but improved well-being and productivity can result in reduced work-related costs such as fewer employee absences, fewer compensation claims, increased efficiency and improved morale.

In its simplest form, workplace wellness just refers to an employee’s ability to function effectively at work while meeting normal challenges with a sense of energy, vitality, and confidence. But it goes deeper than that, by investing in health promotion at work,  employers can reinforce their commitment to giving their workers greater job satisfaction.

Ultimately, by investing today in conscious policies that promote health and development within the workplace setting they also benefit from a lasting culture of better outcomes for their most valuable asset: their employees. 

Employee fitness and productivity can be easily improved on a daily basis too. Here are a few tips to make health a priority at the workplace:

  1. Consider holding strategy meetings while walking outdoors instead of inside the office, or dedicating time for meditation or breathwork sessions to reconnect as a group during a project.

  2.  Give team members a breather from multitasking to allow their brains time to be more creative.

  3. Encourage regular short walks outside or provide workers a space where they can retire for ten minutes of meditation or stretching during work hours without being disturbed.

  4.  Create company-wide competitions or fitness challenges that employees can participate in from anywhere.

  5. Using wearable technology like fitness trackers and smartwatches, encourage employees to track how many steps they take, or how much time they spend doing an activity to help build awareness of exercise.

  6. Organize social activities where everyone is on an equal footing.

Workplace exercise can be a powerful agent of change

Physical health is being prioritized more than ever in the workplace – and excitingly, it is a trend that is still evolving. Creating a healthy workplace should be an important part of every organisation’s long-term success.

In order to create mentally healthy, happy and productive employees, businesses all need to step up to invest in and provide the necessary support employees require – and short physical activity breaks are cheap and easily implemented inside a workplace culture – and they can really help businesses reap performance rewards for years to come.

Investing in workplace health initiatives shows that a business cares about its staff, which again boosts morale and makes it a win-win for employers and employees alike. 

Unlock your team’s potential with the Sprintcrowd health and wellness solution- find out how it works here