Key Learnings

  • Exercise is an important part of employee wellbeing, however working adults spend 60% of their time sat down
  • Take full advantage of your company’s values and purpose by forming relationships with charitable organisations with a health-focused message
  • Do not try and re-invent the wheel, start by aligning your own efforts with existing events and initiatives
  • Find ways to get moving in your offices and keep it fun, do not be surprised if your own colleagues decide to take the lead
Staff member doing stretches in the office

More than half of us have jobs that mainly involve sitting down. Romana Abdin, CEO of Simplyhealth, explains her personal connection with health, and what firms can do to get their teams moving!

At the age of three I was infected by a virus, Poliomyelitis (polio). In 1% to 2% of cases, polio affects the nerves resulting in paralysis of the arms, legs or the diaphragm. All those who survive polio have permanent paralysis. Like me.

Polio has never stopped me doing the things I want to do but as I have got older I have noticed that some of my surviving muscles are not working as well as they used to and slowly withering away whilst others are being overworked. My left leg is like Usain Bolt!

Exercise is an important part of helping to manage the symptoms of polio, so after trying lots of different things, I am about to start at a unique local gym that has power assisted exercise machines.

Of course, as CEO of a healthcare company employee wellbeing is important to me, and I want to encourage as many people as possible to get active.

In the UK, working adults spend 60% of their waking hours sat down.1 So, it’s clear to see that the average office environment isn’t the most conducive environment to staying fit.

But it may not come as a surprise to hear that exercise-related company initiatives have a positive knock-on effect on staff absenteeism levels – in fact, physically active employees take 27% fewer sick days than their sedentary counterparts.   

Here are some top tips for how you, as an employer, can support the wellbeing needs of your people:

Explore Relevant Partnerships

Healthy partnerships can make all the difference, especially when they tap in to your company’s purpose. Our purpose is to help people make the most of life through better everyday health and of course that applies to our people too. We recognise that being active can improve your mental health, which is why we are title partner of the Simplyhealth Great Run Series and have chosen Mind as our nominated charity for 2018.

In January last year, we announced our partnership to our people, and we wanted to ensure that as many of them as possible got to experience being at the events, as a runner or volunteer. 354 people chose to run, many taking up running for the first time. Meanwhile, 110 volunteered at Great Run events.

Piggyback onto Existing Events

Before implementing a new initiative to get your staff more active, think about days in the sporting calendar you can pin your activity on to, like Sport Relief.

We created the first Simplyhealth Great Run Day last year, to use the power of the Great North Run to inspire the UK’s most active weekend. Over 250,000 got involved over the weekend and covered 1.5million miles. That’s three times to the moon and back!

This year our people have been able to sign up for the Great North Run, Great South Run and Great Manchester Run and over 100 of them have chosen to do so. We have also installed new showers at two of our buildings to make it easier for people to train.

Bring Exercise into the Office

With the evenings getting longer and there still being daylight when we leave our desks, we’re seeing many people head straight out for a run in the sunshine at the end of the day. Fitting exercise into your daily routine doesn’t have to be confined to outside of working hours though. Get moving in your offices too.

On Simplyhealth Great Run Day we had bikes where our people had to peddle furiously to mix up a smoothie, we had a sports day, parkour demonstrations and table tennis. It was great fun!

Once you focus on activity in the workplace you’ll be surprised at many people seize the opportunity and take the lead. It has been amazing to see how many running clubs have been started by our own people. Now there is an opportunity to run on almost every day of the week, with colleagues from across the business.

We have Great Run Champions who are on hand to offer support and advice, whether someone is just starting out on their couch to 5k journey or running a half marathon. It is great to see how being active is bringing people together.

Contributed by Romana Abdin
Abi Bentley-Cottam
Article by Abi Bentley-Cottam
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