Debbi Christophers: Why your staff should take a break at lunchtime
11:12 05 October 2012
As the warm afterglow of the Olympics and Paralympics fades and the nation adapts to living without its daily dose of Clare Balding (or is that just me?) what can business learn from the extraordinary summer of sport. And what, if any, is the legacy for the workplace?
For me, it’s about employers building on the momentum created by watching Ennis, Bolt, Simpson et al display their physical prowess. Of course, we can’t all scale those Olympian heights, but research has proven that physically active employees take 27pc fewer days off sick, are more productive and more motivated, so there’s a clear business benefit in supporting employees to stay fit. Active Norfolk and Livewell Suffolk can support you in putting programmes in place.
And we don’t all have to aspire to Rio. There are some simple steps (literally) you can take. Research has shown that when employees don’t take a lunch break, productivity dips and could account for 40 minutes of lost time.
Sound familiar? A study carried out by the University of Essex reveals that walking at lunchtime not only increases physical activity and reduces stress, but when it’s carried out in a green space there is a greater fall in blood pressure and improved negative mood.
It also has social benefits and many of you will have seen Gareth Malone’s latest project, Sing while you Work, which shows the impact workplace choirs can have on confidence, team work and communications.
Yet at a time when businesses are facing myriad external pressures, this might all seem like a “nice to do”, but far from imperative.
I disagree. There is a proven, clear link between strong human capital management and organisational performance. BITC-commissioned research carried out by IPSOS Mori found that companies that take proactive steps to manage and promote employee health, wellbeing and engagement can improve their financial performance by as much as 10pc.
And Towers Watson revealed that organisations with high levels of employee engagement outperform those with below- average on measures of operating income, net income growth and earnings per share.
It is the recognition of this business case that is behind BITC’s launch of the Workwell benchmark earlier this week, which will for the first time assess all FTSE 100 companies on their management of employee wellbeing.
The government also sees employers as having a role in improving public health and launched its Public Health Responsibility Deal in 2011 to encourage businesses to demonstrate their commitment to supporting their employees in making healthier choices.
After all, people spend over a third of their waking hours at work, so it’s a great setting to encourage lifestyle changes that will improve health.
The fact is your most valuable asset is your employees.
A resilient workforce where staff are engaged in their work and with their colleagues; where absenteeism and turnover are low and productivity and engagement are high, can make the different between profit and loss. Put simply, good health means good business.
Get involved at www.bitc.org.uk/business_action_on_public_health. Now who’s going to sign up for the Adnams 10k? I will if you will.
Debbi Christophers is head of business development, Business in the Community.