If someone said to you they could elevate your staffs happiness, energy levels, creativity, mental sharpness and in turn productivity, you would sit up and listen, right?
What if they also proposed your staff would experience less stress, fewer sick days, better work relationships, time management and an improved work-life balance? You would be begging them to know more, right? Well it is not rocket science, but it is a fantastic initiative that many organisations can put into place without spending big on a life coach guru to mentor each individual employee. What is it you ask? Quite simply, it’s exercise!
Many studies have proven that exercise increases workplace productivity. As little as 2.5 hours exercise a week can result in positive differences in your employees working performances. Now we know that life is busy for most people. Finding time to exercise is not always easy, particularly if motivational levels are not high. So I propose that you integrate exercise into the working day. Now remember this is not a proposal to reduce the working hours of your employees, it is a proposal to increase productivity. So while your employees may work a few hours less a week, the time you are giving them to exercise will return great benefits for the organisation as your workforce will actually be working more productively, thus achieving more in a shorter time frame.
To encourage staff to accept this initiative involve them in the planning process. Let them tell you what sort of exercise program they would like to implement at work. I know of one workplace that built a 1km walking track around the work site to encourage employees to take a stroll over their lunch break. Employees don’t have to leave the complex, they can enjoy a walk together, and your rating as an employer goes up as you are viewed as being conscientious and proactive in improving your employees’ health and wellbeing. The outdoor ‘walking track’ meeting is also popular. Other workplaces bring in a personal trainer once a week for a more vigorous workout. Offering discounts at a local gym is great too, but if you want a high uptake, it is best to bring the opportunity to exercise to the work site.
What time of the day will best suit a workout for your employees? Many believe that the morning offers the best opportunity. Following a workout, employees are typically more pumped up to attack the day…or their in-tray! And as I already mentioned they are more mentally sharp. As we age, our body produces fewer brain cells. I’m not saying we are getting dumber as we get older, but we aren’t as quick as what we once were. Research has shown that through regular exercise, we can slow down this process.
Earlier I mentioned that for many of us the motivation to exercise is low. We know that engaging in exercise offers a lot of health benefits. What we may not be aware of is that with every nine minutes that ticks by, one Australian is having a heart attack. That’s equivalent to 54,000 heart attacks per annum in this country alone! Exercise certainly does reduce the risk of chronic disease, but for many of us, we still need a force greater than ourselves to incentivise us to take affirmative action towards achieving a healthier life. For those that lack self-motivation, the inspiration to pull on the lycra often comes from others. So exercising with work colleagues will not only spur employees to partake, they are more likely to continue in engaging in regular exercise. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce, so why not turn your boardroom into a yoga studio?
An increase in exercise is linked to more than improvements in fitness levels and the ability to fit into your skinny jeans. It is linked to better working performances. So orchestrate an intervention at your workplace today to exercise more. You will not only succeed in achieving a healthier workforce, but a happier, more productive workforce that may see your organisation surge to the forefront of your industry.