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Wellbeing – Sit on it Cunningham!

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If, like me, you were around in the 1980s, you would be more than likely familiar with the Fonz and one of his famous catch phrases ,“Sit on it”. And yet sitting on it is increasingly becoming a major issue.

Sedentary lifestyles are still with us and if you look around the train on your way home a huge percentage of people are using mobile technology.

The Government published a paper as far back as 2013 focusing on how healthy behaviour supports children’s wellbeing. Unsurprisingly, it talks of healthy eating (including eating breakfast), increased physical activity and reducing screen time, plus a balanced sleep pattern.

This is no different to the workplace surrounding sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, and a bad work/life balance. That, linked with not spending enough proactive time out and about with our families at the weekend, is not a good recipe for a happy and healthy lifestyle for the longer term.

Experience shows that employees doing more physical activity are more likely to concentrate and be more productive at work, enjoy good relationships with colleagues, and display lower levels of worry, anxiety and depression. Things like cycling, swimming, running or other forms of exercise all have a clear correlation, but simple things like just going for walks were also associated with higher levels of wellbeing.

UK office workers often spend between four and nine hours sitting at their desks each day – equating to an average of 67 sedentary days per year. This is an issue if no other physical activity is undertaken.

Each employer’s needs are different; however, one thing in our experience is clear: for any programme to provide effective engagement, the decision to embrace wellbeing must come from the top of the organisation.

These programmes are often not expensive but do need investment in time. We have seen clients implement several ways of improving employees’ physical and mental activity levels by including some of the following:

  • Healthy nutritional options in staff canteens and vending machines
  • Running or walking clubs
  • Wellbeing team challenges
  • Yoga and pilates
  • In house gyms
  • Meeting walks

Health apps and rewards for healthy living can also be a great motivator, but often this has to be complemented by competition and gamification to gain the levels of success within the company’s objectives.

For those not used to engaging in a lot of physical activity slow and steady engagement wins the race! Moving to a ‘prevention, not cure’ model helps to reduce the likelihood of illnesses related to unhealthy lifestyles, keeping absence rates down and increasing productivity. Companies that provide an effective wellbeing policy are more likely to benefit in terms of recruitment and retention and the overall health and happiness of its employees.

If your company’s wellbeing strategy is disparate, disorganised or non-existent then now is the time to reevaluate what is in your workplace wellbeing strategy, with consideration given to:

  • Prevention
  • Intervention
  • Risk hazards
  • Measurement
  • Strategic opportunities for change

Continued regular communication and engagement with teams, along with a bit of friendly competition, should lead to proactive, healthy employees rather than just “sitting on it”. Wellbeing should be seen as an evolution to improve proactivity and wellness in the workforces, and for these good behaviors to cascade to our loved ones.

Happy Days!

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