As employers, we want to have the most efficient and productive workforce as possible. But we also want a happy, positive and healthy workforce. The latter of course, ensures the former and promotes an uplifting and constructive place to work. When staff are able to take control of their health and wellbeing for the benefit of their personal and professional endeavours, that is truly something to embrace and encourage as an employer; not only for the emotional state of the workforce, but for the financial state of the business too. Did you know that the annual costs of sickness absence for UK businesses is estimated at around £554 per employee? This could be reduced drastically with encouraging staff to really think about their health and fitness.

How can we take that encouragement one step further? Words can only do so much in providing support to staff, and if we truly believe in the power of a healthy workforce, then we must also facilitate the change, not just encourage it.

I wrote earlier this month about the huge impact even a small amount of exercise can have on energy and stress levels, sleep, productivity and of course the whole host of physical health benefits. The more employees can embrace and immerse themselves into their favourite physical activity, the better! They’ll be happier, healthier and more energised to tackle even the busiest of workdays. However, one of the main issues with people not doing enough physical activity is just not having found their favourite one. Whether it’s cycling, running, Zumba, yoga, Pilates, HIIT, rowing, weight training, boxing, the list of ideas goes on; but having the confidence to try something new can be tough.

However, employers can facilitate that move.

A workforce is a ready-made team or class, and the workplace is a ready-made space to host, so how about…

Running Club: Start a running club for staff to join during lunch time or after work and work as a team to create short, enjoyable routes nearby.

Challenges: Offer challenges to staff such as running every morning, walking the most steps in a day or trying the most new activities in a month. Offer a prize to the winner and get the conversation about physical health buzzing around the office.

Relaxation: If you find your workforce suffer with stress and have a very active, busy work-life, start up weekly yoga classes or short meditation sessions every morning to boost energy and mental strength for their work.

Buddy-Up: Going out for a run or other exercise on your own for the first time is quite a daunting prospect. If you can offer a buddy-up scheme, it will give employees a friend to go with and a partner to work alongside to improve as they go. This makes anything new seem much less scary and a great conversation starter for anyone new joining the workforce.

These are just a few ideas you could adopt in your workplace, but the possibilities are endless. The more variety you can offer staff when it comes to ideas, the more chance you’ll have at finding something they will enjoy and continue to take part in well into the future. This will be a huge positive step towards a healthier workforce. But it goes so much further than that. If staff are able to enjoy activities beyond those within their job roles, it creates stronger bonds between them. Team-building is something that can sometimes be met with eye rolls and long sighs, but if a long-term commitment can be made to support the team in this way then relationships can thrive. And of course, the better the relationships within the team, the better the productivity and proactivity.

It’s all about finding the right balance. If your workforce is a physical one, always on their feet and in need of a good rest at the end of a day, then provide them with meditation and yoga opportunities. Brilliant for mental health and fantastic at improving posture, increasing circulation and improving strength, these activities will not only feel great but help them feel stronger and fitter for their active roles.

If your workforce spends much of their time at their desk, we need to get them moving! A sedentary role is the one that really needs help with physical activity so encourage your staff to get up every hour, move around and increase their step count. If they can take at least 250 steps an hour, it will really help reduce the pitfalls of sitting for such a huge portion of the day.

At Acorn, we’ve often provided personal trainers to head into workplaces to show staff how to look after their physical health and find the right exercises that suit their fitness levels, their lifestyle and their job. Having that kind of highly personalised solution means that they don’t need to feel put-off by hefty regimes and can reduce the risk of injury when trying something new.

And so as employers, if we care, and truly take the physical health of our staff seriously, encouraging them to take action isn’t enough. We need to BE that action and facilitate the change.

It can only offer positive results for everyone; employee and employer.