Wellbeing may not seem like an important topic in the day to day running of your small business but being actively engaged in improving the health and wellbeing of yourself and your staff can help to build a strong, resilient workforce ready to face a changing climate.
Together with ukactive and Sport England, we have designed a range of resources to help you and your staff to make small but sustainable changes to your working day. We'll take you through simple ideas you can start to use immediately to create a working environment that supports and enhances employee health, wherever you are based.
Why is workplace wellness important?
We all know that keeping active and eating well are essential for good health but that on its own is not always enough to get us moving or eating well, especially during the pandemic when positive habits can easily be disrupted. Given that we spend an average of 8.5 hours of every day working, one simple way to boost your physical and mental health is to find small, sustainable ways to be more active in and around the working day.
Research from Sport England has shown 62% of adults currently consider exercise to be more important than ever and 65% of people believe exercise is helping with their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UK's Chief Medical Officer has continually stressed the value of physical activity: “Anything that can be done to encourage and to allow people to take exercise is clearly a good thing”.
Taking steps to include daily physical activity and movement while reducing the sitting time of yourself and your employees contributes to a longer healthier life.
Adults spending eight hours a day sat at a desk are up to 60% more likely to die early from diseases such as cancer and heart disease. This risk is reduced with regular, moderate physical activity
Small businesses and sole traders can be hit hard by business interruption through illness and the costs this incurs
2019 research found that if the recommended physical activity guidelines were met globally, it could make employees up to 5 days more productive each year and boost the world economy by an estimated $100bn a year.
24.6% of adults in England are currently classed as inactive, this means over 11 million people are currently doing less than an average of 30 minutes activity a week.
Government Guidelines state that being active reduces your chances of Type II diabetes by 40%, cardiovascular disease by 35%, joint and back pain by 25%, colon and breast cancers by 20% and can reduce the risk of mental illness by 30%.
Research by CBRE showed that 80% of employees agree that a company’s culture will be crucial in recruiting and retaining them within the next 10 years.
Developing a wellness based culture doesn't need to be complex and expensive, simple solutions to encourage healthy behaviours such as boosting activity levels can positively impact on how your current and future employees perceive your organisation.
Sources: Sport England covid-19 Physical activity tracker | Government press briefing 15th April | The Lancet, July 2016 – physical activity series | Fitter bodies, fitter economies – Vitality and RAND, 2019. | Sport England Active Lives Adult Survey November 2018/19 Report, published April 2020 | Wellness in the workplace: Unlocking Future Performance – CBRE – occupier survey 2015 –2016
Where do I start?
In June, along with Sport England and ukactive, we explored how improved workplace health and wellbeing can boost business owners’ and their employees’ physical and mental health and how health and wellbeing can boost the level of your firm’s productivity. If you missed our webinar, you can watch it in full below.
During the webinar, people were keen to ask questions about how they can make positive changes for themselves and their employees. We didn't have time to answer everybody's questions but you can find the most frequently asked questions below.
Join the Movement is a new website created by Sport England to help the country stay active during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond. It contains a wide range of simple, high-quality indoor workouts for all ages and abilities and ideas for things you can safely do outdoors. These range from links to useful apps like the couch to 5km programme to short workouts you can fit into your coffee break with no equipment required.
We have collaborated with ukactive and Sport England to create a hub featuring information and handy guides that provide ideas and inspiration on how to fit activity into your working day. These include advice on moving meetings, a simple guide to fitting activity into the work day plus a resource designed to help you form positive new activity habits. You can find these resources further down this page.
Lots of people asked this during our webinar. With many citing workload and the pressure to be the first and last people in the office as key barriers to being active.
There is no magic, overnight solution to making lasting changes to workplace culture, and it will require you to look at your current workplace culture and evaluate which parts of it work well and which parts need to be altered.
However, there are some simple principles that can help to get you started:
Give permission – openly encourage your employees to be more active and get them started by sharing some of the simple ideas resources we have created.
Be a role model - lead from the front, and show your employees, team and even your clients that this is something you embrace and practise yourself
Involve your employees – ask your people what they want and need through an anonymous survey or informal chat. Understand what their barriers are and look at how you can enable and support them. They may come up with the solutions themselves and simply need your permission and practical help to make this happen.
Share useful resources – we have created a series of guides with simple ideas on how to build more activity into the working day for you to share with your employees.
Change your mindset - As physical activity expert, Professor Greg Whyte, references in the webinar, there is a fear within some businesses that giving employees time to be active (or do other things to support their wellbeing) means they are working for less time and are therefore less productive. However, the reverse has been found to be true and stepping away from this fear and genuinely embracing and accepting activity and health as part of your business day to day is a key first step.
Positive culture change is something that can be achieved over time and the benefits are huge. Aligning your workplace culture, practices and environment to enable healthy choices and higher activity levels will create a happier, healthier, more productive workforce and give your business the best chance of being success.
If you are looking to support your team with new initiatives it can be very useful to understand if they are having positive impact, especially if you are considering investing financial resource.
One prominent metric to capture is absenteeism as this will be available through your general reporting systems, however, this can be impacted by what is termed ‘presenteeism’. This is the practice of coming to work despite illness, injury, anxiety or other physical or mental health challenges that will often result in reduced productivity. Therefore, you may see absenteeism figures going down but productivity not going up if presenteeism is prevalent in your business.
The best way to measure elements such as presenteeism and productivity is talking to your staff, consistently asking the same relevant questions over time. Using an anonymous survey tool can help provide a general overview of key metrics and allow for honesty; the survey can be followed up with focus groups to generate a deeper insight into employees thoughts and opinions. To make focus groups sound less intimidating, they can work well as ‘tea and chat’ sessions which can be done successfully via video conferencing or in-person.
It can be useful to use the above process to explore multiple elements of wellbeing for your business, including, but not limited to, physical activity. It can also be used to gain wider views and feedback on what else might be impacting your business productivity and employee happiness.
In addition to surveys and focus groups, individual employee KPIs have been used to measure performance and output rather than ‘hours worked’, which will usually be defined by the usual business system you use for KPIs. In certain industries (e.g. a service industry) it may also be relevant to directly measure impact on the financial bottom line, through raised productivity in the same hours worked.
As all businesses are different the most effective way to select measures is to have them picked bespoke for you. Although free surveying tools exist this might not be possible for all organisations due to lack of knowledge, time or resource. However, you may find your employee benefits provider offers an ‘off the shelf’ survey tool and Workplace Movement from Active Partnerships offers a low-cost solution to a staff activity survey.
For help with a more bespoke approach, organisations such as ukactive can offer direct support if you want to explore in this greater depth. In general, utilising support from a third party will ensure you get unbiased and honest results if you want to robustly measure any activity and performance metrics.
As part of the physical activity hub we will be publishing case studies over the next few weeks to highlight real ways that businesses of all sizes and types have promoted activity.
If you have done something interesting around boosting physical activity in your business that you would like to share we'd love to hear it! Get it touch with us via the form below and we'll get back to you.
Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups and exercise is essential for slowing age-related cognitive decline and for promoting well-being.
Being active is central to our mental health, depression is increasing in all age groups and people who are inactive have three times the rate of moderate to severe depression of active people. More information about the evidence base behind this can be found in this guide from Public Health England.
In addition, the five ways to wellbeing are globally accepted as a key standard to overall wellbeing and being active is included in this approach as one of the areas to ensure is included.
- Be active
- Take Notice
This is explained in more detail by charity Mind in their mental health at work resources.
Promoting, supporting and enabling people to be active during the working day supports good mental health. All of our tips in the webinar and the resources referenced in this FAQ will help you achieve this.
Why not take the first step by holding a moving meeting? Not only is this directly beneficial for building more movement into the day, it's a great way to break down formality, encouraging open and honest conversation. You can find a full guide on how to plan a meeting in the resources section below.
We've all been there! It's been a long day, you can't find your shoes, it’s raining...
The best piece of advice we can give to motivate you in this situation is to start small and not to worry if you don’t find a routine you can stick to immediately, just start again when you feel ready. Don’t overthink it, this is simply about moving more in a way you personally enjoy and it doesn’t matter how or when you do that.
There are many areas that contribute to wellbeing many of which we discussed in the webinar. Good sleep, nutrition and a well-designed working set-up all contribute to wellbeing. Physical activity is just one element of a happy, healthy and productive workforce but also an element that can have a positive impact on wider wellbeing areas and can be simple to influence as a business owner or leader.
Check out our tool designed for helping you or your business get started with building something into habit.
What can I do?
Join the Movement is a great resource for finding something active to try, the site also includes links to a wide range of free, high-quality indoor workouts for all ages and abilities plus apps and ideas for things you can do outdoors.
Whether you add activity to the start of your day or in 10-minute bursts between tasks, the guides below along with the Join the Movement hub will get you moving in no time! We've got five suggestions below to help you get started!
Discover the link between physical activity and mental health with ukactive and Mind's guide
Physical activity challenges not only improve health and wellbeing but can also help build relationships too. Read our guide to find out how you can get involved.
Squeeze some activity into your daily commute with our guide.
Download our guide to building activity into your working day.
Keeping moving through a working day is vital to the wellbeing of individuals.
Moving meetings held via phone allow you to catch up while talking a walk