Insurance · 17 November 2015

Why your staff think changes to their lifestyle will up productivity at work

Simple steps such as starting to run can help productivity
Simple steps such as starting to run can help productivity

What lengths would you go to improve staff productivity at work? It could be simpler than you think. You might be surprised to learn that your employees believe that by making positive lifestyle changes their productivity in the office will increase.

Research just published by Bupa found that a significant majority of employees (85 per cent) believe that they would be more productive if they were able to stick to positive lifestyle changes in the long-term.

Those lifestyle changes include exercising more (65 per cent), losing weight (61 per cent), and eating less sugar (48 per cent). But people clearly need support to help them achieve these goals as they are being held back by a lack of willpower (41 per cent) and their busy lives (40 per cent).

We all know that making lifestyle changes can be tough. It takes significant will power and determination. Only seven per cent of employees have been completely successful in making changes. In the study over half (52 per cent) admitted that their changes generally last no longer than a few weeks and two in five (44 per cent) would love their work to help them make positive changes to their lifestyle.

Most people find it’s the getting started that is the hardest. If it’s wet and cold and dark when you wake up, putting on your running shoes could feel like the last thing you want to do. Also we all know that it is harder to do something on your own without any support.

So how could your business help its employees? It will not have escaped your notice that the new year is just around the corner and that is often the time when most people set themselves goals to achieve. Certainly you’d expect exercise to figure in most people’s new year’s resolution list. How about setting some workplace goals and resolutions?

The first step to any fitness regime is to think about how fit you are for your chosen activity. Whenever you begin an exercise regime, it’s wise to consult a doctor, especially if it is part of something you are supporting and encouraging your employees to do at work.

The exercise options you have are numerous, including walking, running, swimming, dancing, gardening, biking, and even cleaning your house. The important thing is to help your employees choose activities they enjoy and help them to make space in the day to achieve their goals. That will increase their chances of making exercise a habit.

This doesn’t necessarily mean following a strict, time-consuming regimen at the gym, although that can certainly reap benefits. The truth is you can get rewards from many different types and levels of exercise. Maybe you might want to start a running or walking club, or a trip to the local swimming pool, depending on where your workplace is located. Any little increment of physical activity is going to help you to lose weight and to feel better.

How much exercise should you do? Most experts would say that it is good to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity such as walking, on most days of the week.

After assessing yours and your employees’ fitness levels you might want to set some exercise goals together. For example, what about to preparing to do a five km run, or walk together for 30 minutes a couple of times a week in your lunch break. You will probably have heard of smartphone apps that will help to take you from having done no physical activity to running five km. It is advisable to start slowly and set small goals to start with to avoid getting too tired and injured.

Or you might want to invest in an office personal trainer who can work with all of you to get you motivated and achieve your exercise goals.

Given the knock on effect of exercise and healthy lifestyle on productivity you might find these a worthwhile investment.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

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