Editors Note: This is a guest post by James Hood. His opinions are his own.
Are you noticing that your employees are becoming more and more lethargic every passing day? Are they getting bigger and heavier? Do you need to boost productivity in the workplace? Then perhaps it is time to encourage your employees to be more active.
In today’s highly competitive business environment, corporate leaders are focusing on cutting back costs in order to maximize their bottom line.
Physical fitness at the workplace may not be the first thing that decision makers have in mind but there’s growing evidence that encouraging employees to be more physically active can reap numerous dividends for companies.
Employees are often referred to as the most important asset of any company. It thus makes a lot of sense for firms to encourage their employees to take good care of themselves and become more physically active.
The following are seven of the top reasons why you should promote a healthy lifestyle among your employees:
1. Reduced absenteeism
Employee absenteeism can mean different things. On the surface, it can simply pertain to a worker who is not present at the office. But it can also mean employees who are physically present but are ill or distracted at the workplace. These employees can be considered as mentally absent and thus not as productive as they should be.
Instituting fitness programs can help cut back on employee absenteeism. The Wellness Council of America believes that a total of 100 million workdays get lost every year due to lower back problems of employees. Back pain is also considered a major cause of employee absenteeism in the United Kingdom.
The amount of time missed by employees due to ailments can be reduced if firms start to introduce or institute fitness programs. A company fitness program integrating muscle strengthening and weight loss, for instance, can lower instances of low back injuries.
There have been numerous firms that reported benefiting from a company fitness program. For example, Pacific bell Telephone Company instituted a wellness program that reduced costs related absenteeism by about $2 million a year and expenses related to disability leaves by nearly $5 million a year. DuPont Corporation also lowered its disability days among its employees by 14 days a year after it instituted a health and wellness program.
This brings us to the next benefit of encouraging employees to be more active, which is…
2. Lower health care costs
Simply put, healthier employees are less likely to make insurance claims. This, in turn, reduces health care costs of companies.
Again, there are numerous firms that have seen their health care costs reduced significantly after instituting a health and wellness program in their respective workplaces.
In 2006, Chesapeake Energy launched its employees fitness program that offered generous bonuses to employees just to stay healthy. Workers were encouraged to exercise at least three days a week and complete health screenings. It even built a state-of-the-art, 72,000 square feet gym which offered 70 weekly exercise classes.
The company also subsidized gym memberships for employees working off-site. Three years after the launch of the program, the health care costs of the company was up to 7 percent lower than the national average.
3. More motivated employees
There are plenty of factors that can affect employee motivation. Employees are usually motivated to work harder when there’s a generous compensation system in place in a company. Yet they can also be motivated by a company that encourages them to stay healthy.
Fit and active employees have more energy compared to those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. They not only have more energy; they also tend to sleep better, too. All these can improve employee motivation, leading to happier and more productive personnel.
4. Improve brain power
Regular exercise will not only keep employees in tip top shape; it will also enable them to be mentally sharper.
There are many studies that prove regular exercise can boost brain power. All that moving won’t just help a person lose unwanted fats and maintain a slimmer body; it can also make him or her a lot smarter.
One recent study was conducted by experts from the University of Aberdeen and University of Stirling. The experts collected data from more than 4,000 adults and found that individuals who didn’t exercise regularly displayed poor executive function, while those who stayed physically active on a regular basis exhibited higher levels of executive function.
Another study conducted in 2014 showed that regular aerobic exercise can boost the size of the hippocampus, or the area of the brain which is involved in learning and memory. According to scientists from the University of British Columbia which conducted the study, regular aerobic exercise can enhance the memory and thinking skills of people.
All these studies and findings point out to the obvious— regular exercise can keep employees mentally sharp. And mentally sharp people can be very productive for any company.
5. Improve employee retention
Employees who work for companies with physical fitness programs are also more likely to stay with their employers compared to those who work in firms that don’t offer this kind of employee service.
In fact, one survey conducted by Monster Canada showed that Canadian employees value the corporate wellness programs offered by their employers. In that survey, 88 percent of the respondents say they appreciate the fitness programs in their respective firms.
Fitness programs, from onsite gyms to exercise classes, can be considered as one of the best perks by employees. HR managers even say that an onsite gym is a very effective employee retention tool. Physically-active employees, for one, would think twice about losing this kind of benefit if and when they leave the company.
6. Increased camaraderie within a team
Encouraging fitness at the workplace, whether by having an onsite gym or exercise class, can also enhance or build camaraderie in a team. Employees can freely interact with their peers in the gym or during an exercise class.
They can share laughs and good memories with their colleagues while working out. They can even discuss details of their projects while they exercise. Or they can meet new people whom they may not able to see at work.
These are things that they may not be able to do regularly during office hours.
7. Increase productivity in the workplace
When employees are fit and healthy, they become mentally sharper. They are also more motivated to work harder. Plus, the employees are also cooperating and communicating with each other thanks to the enhanced camaraderie. And the personnel are better engaged, too.
When all these things happen, you can expect productivity to shoot up in the workplace.
Employees will not only be physically present at work, but they are also more engaged and motivated to contribute something for the achievement of corporate goals.
These are seven undeniable reasons why you should be encouraging your employees to start exercising. It is not surprising why many firms around the world have hopped into the corporate wellness program bandwagon.