Insurance 28 February 2017

How encouraging workplace sports can lift your business

Workplace sports
Fitter staff are less likely to take sick leave through illness, saving your business money and improving productivity

Writing for Business Advice, Chris Nixon, project director at FOOTY.COM, takes a closer look at how workplace sports can have a positive effect on your business, and what you can do to encourage it.

Students who undertake a dual lifestyle of both academic and sporting activities are more motivated, better prepared, more intellectually stimulated, and less stressed, according to research published in the International Journal of the History of Sport. This is one of the many studies that have linked participating in sports with the ability to provide more focus and greater drive in other avenues of life.

Further to this, a study in 2006 by Hudson and the Social Issues Research Centre investigated the effect of sports on the workplace in the UK, including both participating in workplace activities and watching important events during work hours.

It found that 80 per cent of men and 70 per cent of women thought employers could boost performance with sports, while 45 per cent of men and 43 per cent of women believed playing football, netball, or tennis would increase morale and productivity.

With this in mind, we’re going to discuss how you could take this idea and run with it for your own business.

Workplace sports can bring departments together

We’re encouraged to take part in team sports from an early age for several reasons, but one is to teach us to cooperate with one another and develop interpersonal skills. Even as adults, the understanding that teammates are able to gain through sporting activities is something that is difficult to reproduce through other means.

Because your business relies on your employees working together for success, it stands to reason that encouraging sports among your staff can be very beneficial for improved performance. Workers who participate in these activities together will get to know each other well, and a unique camaraderie is likely to be formed, one that they can carry into the workplace.

Create a happy, healthy office through workplace sports

It’s often said that a happy workplace is a productive workplace, and there is a large nugget of truth in this old adage. In 2014, a study commissioned by the Department of Culture and Sport found that sporting activities had the potential to increase general wellbeing.

Through a technique known as the Wellbeing Valuation approach, participation was estimated as equivalent to a £1,127 annual pay rise. By making sports accessible for staff, you could tap into the value that these activities can bring to your business.

Fit for Work, a government initiative, encourages businesses to do everything within their power to promote healthy living within the workplace. Among many things, they recommend setting up a company sports team, citing the endorphins the activity releases as a way staff can become more confident, more energetic, and happier.

It’s also worth noting that fitter staff are less likely to take sick leave through illness, saving your business money and improving productivity.

How you can facilitate sports in your own workplace

By making workplace sports as accessible as a possible for your team, you can really begin to benefit from some of the points discussed in this article. You will need to approach the subject in the right way with your staff, as pushing too hard is only liable to turn people away from the idea.

On the other hand, an introduction in the right way can have a very positive reception, while reminding your employees that you care about their wellbeing beyond office hours.

You can be as hands-on or as hands-off with any teams or clubs that are established as you like, though it may depend on what type of ethos your business has.

A non-intrusive method could simply be arranging a venue for the team to play, or covering the costs of entry into a local amateur competition.

A more hands-on approach would be to cover the above, as well as providing kit and equipment for competitive play. You could even go all out and establish a league for your team and other like-minded businesses — the perfect way to network and play at the same time.

That about wraps this discussion up. As you can see, workplace sports have the potential to massively boost your business, as well as providing health and wellbeing benefits for your employees. So, take action and get your company active.

Chris Nixon is project director at FOOTY.COM, a price comparison tool that allows you to find deals on football kits, boots and equipment online.

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