Employers urged to support health and wellbeing in the workplace to help cut the cost of lost working days
- 40% of people in England do not exercise enough
- Lack of exercise contributes to an estimated cost of £14.9 billion to businesses in lost working days
- Research shows time is the biggest barrier to sport and physical activity
- Week-long campaign aims to inspire businesses to add activity into and around the working day
Employers must face up to the potential impact of an unhealthy workforce, according to Workplace Challenge, as it gears up to the start of Workplace Health Week (23-27 May).
Workplace Health Week is a week full of activity, designed to help businesses provide inspiration and opportunities for employees to become more active at work. This year’s theme is building on the traditional lunchtime ‘meal deal’ offered by most food outlets and canteens across the country, encouraging employers to ‘make a deal’ with their employees, colleagues and themselves to introduce physical activity to their lunchtime routine.
NHS guidelines state that adults should try to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week to stay healthy – but an estimated 40 per cent of people do not exercise enough, according to Public Health England. And it is not just our health that is suffering.
Workplace Challenge, which has organised the second Workplace Health Week in collaboration with County Sports Partnerships across England, says the figures are hitting employers on the bottom line; contributing to sickness absence, reduced productivity and an estimated annual cost of £14.9 billion to businesses in lost working days.
Research conducted by Workplace Challenge partners, the British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health (BHFNC) shows that time is the biggest barrier to sport and activity, which is why Workplace Health Week is encouraging employers to focus on flexible working and active lunch breaks to help bring physical activity into and around the working day.
More than 48,000 employees from over 8,000 businesses have already signed up to Workplace Challenge. Employers are urged to get involved with a different focus each day via a free, online activity tool, which includes tailored sport and physical activity knowledge and opportunities. Participants can even track their progress towards the recommended 150 minutes of exercise with their own personal dashboard.
The highlight of the week is a Midday Mile at 12noon on Thursday 26 May, where individuals are encouraged to leave their desk to walk, jog, run or cycle one mile – with the support of their employers of course.
Lee Mason, Chief Executive of the County Sports Partnership Network, which runs Workplace Challenge, said: “The rising levels of physical inactivity paint a worrying picture about the health of our working population. Recent figures from Sport England show that 57% of adults do not play sport and Public Health England research has shown that 40% of us do not exercise enough.
“This not only poses a risk to our health, but it is also poses a risk to the productivity and profit of businesses. The average number of sick days per person per year is 5.31 – if we can reduce this figure just by one day by promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace, it could save businesses across England an estimated £2.8 billion. And when you consider that we spend 60 per cent of our waking hours at work, there is no better place to introduce the means, motivation and encouragement to exercise.
“We are urging firms to revolutionise the lunch break and get people exercising in and around their working day. And what better time to start than during Workplace Health Week?”
Councillor Ray Gooding from Essex County Council which took part in the first Workplace Health Week in 2015, said: “We understand the importance of a healthy, active workforce and we were delighted to be able to take part in the activities last year.
“We had the support of Active Essex, our local County Sports Partnership, and we got plenty of tips, ideas and advice from the Workplace Challenge website. It was a fantastic initiative and we are looking forward to getting involved again this year.”
For more details, or to complete the free and simple registration, visit www.workplacechallenge.org.uk.
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- Workplace Challenge’s activity tracking platform is a free online facility available through www.workplacechallenge.org.uk that enables individuals and workplaces to log all of their physical activity, and easily compare activity levels to other participating individuals and organisations.
- Active loggers will be able to see a variety of stats including distance travelled, calories burned, CO2 saved and progress against the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week using a targets bar. It's also possible to set personal targets in 2015 (linked to fundraising if you wish) and create your ‘circles’ to compare your progress against friends and colleagues. All these features and more are available from your dashboard.
- A minimum of three registered employees are required for a workplace to appear in a leader board and people can also track their own individual progress locally and nationally.
- County Sports Partnerships across England locally manage the online platform for their community, ensuring that there are challenges, activities and competitions available offline to encourage people to stay active.
- Workplace Challenge is supported by Sport England through the Get Healthy Get Active fund.
County Sports Partnership Network
- The CSP Network represents 45 local County Sports Partnership teams across the country.
- Collectively, they contribute to the health of the nation by helping local partners, organisations and deliverers to promote the benefits of active lifestyles across local communities.
- The CSP Network delivered The Community Games – one of the most successful community campaigns seen in the UK, attracting over 2 million members of the public to come together in local communities to take part in active cultural events inspired by London 2012.
British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health (BHFNC)
- The BHFNC was established in April 2000 with funding from the British Heart Foundation. Based in the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine at Loughborough University our aim is to create an active nation by translating research evidence into practice to improve and extend the promotion of physical activity in the UK. We do this by undertaking research and evaluation and supporting professionals across a range of sectors including health care, education, transport, sport and leisure with practical evidence-based tools to promote physical activity. For further information on our work go to www.bhfactive.org.uk.