Do the benefits of exercise have a positive impact on the workplace?

The simple answer is yes, the benefits of exercise can have a positive impact on your team. Should business leaders make exercise mandatory in the workplace?

Every Friday, staff at Swedish fashion and sportswear company Björn Borg leave their desks and head for a sweaty hour together at the local gym. The benefits of exercise on the workplace helps with mental health, problem solving and leadership skills.

There’s nothing unusual about that. Except that this is compulsory for every employee at the Stockholm HQ. The philosophy at the company, founded by the Swedish tennis star, is that working out together helps to develop a winning team.

It’s a policy found at other companies in Sweden. But should forcing staff to exercise during work time be something that UK firms should consider copying?

Investing in the health of your staff seems like a no-brainer, but is compulsory exercise a step too far?

Fit for office

There are lots of benefits for your employees if they exercise: they’ll feel healthier, more alert and energetic. It can help to ease stress, build resilience and forge better social connections.

They may also enjoy a healthier bank balance, as some private health insurance companies offer discounts on premiums and other perks for more active lifestyles.

But why pay staff to exercise?

There’s plenty of evidence that getting active during work time offers unique benefits to the employer.

One study found that employees visiting a company gym were more productive in their jobs and went home more satisfied on days when they exercised during their work time.

Why it pays for employers

If staff exercise during the workday, they get a sense of achievement as well as an injection of happy hormones that can last all day.

Another study found that people experienced an immediate improvement in cognition following 15 minutes of moderate exercise – with the business reaping the benefits if they work out during work, rather than after.

Healthy and happy employees are more likely to be motivated and creative, and less likely to take sick days. Add in supercharged productivity, social connections, loyalty, staff retention and boosted profits, and surely it’s a win-win?

How to get your staff across the finish line

While some of your employees will yearn for the Swedish approach, there will be others who’d rather sit it out.

If your company introduces mandatory exercise, some staff may rebel and refuse to get involved. And if they won’t change their minds, you could find yourself in a sticky situation.

So, what are the alternatives if you’re not ready to make exercise compulsory?

During my career as a coach and trainer with England Rugby, I helped develop some of the country’s top players and coaches. If one of your goals for 2024 is healthier and happier teams, here are some alternative ways to achieve it.

Offer discounted or free gym memberships

Communicate this perk to all your current staff plus during recruitment and onboarding. Stay flexible about when staff can use the gym. And include a family membership option.

Or hire a personal trainer to come into the office and run a variety of sessions throughout the day to suit different needs.

Find your zen

Bring yoga and fitness classes into the workplace; if you make exercise fun and easy to join, there are fewer reasons for people to resist.

Try standing or walking meetings

Humans aren’t designed to sit still for eight hours a day. It’s bad for us physically, and movement also aids creativity and thinking. You can also introduce standing desks.

Fuel their day

Make nutritious snacks available. This doesn’t have to cost a fortune and could be anything from fresh fruit, to starting the morning with a healthy breakfast muffins delivery.

Keep on running

Empower your teams to set up their own lunchtime runs or walks. It’s a great opportunity to get to know each other away from work – and we’re all on an equal footing when we put on our trainers.

Click here to read the original article by Ben Stocken in HR Magazine

Ben Stocken of West Peak discusses how to stop your staff jumping ship in January
Lady working on laptop at home ensuring her time management is part of her working day.Time management tips to work smarter at home
Row of yellow paper planes signify a launch about the article with how Leadership Training can impact productivity in a team.The Impact of Leadership Training on Motivation and Productivity

Subscribe to our Podcast

Hosted by our very own Ben Stocken and Benjamin Wade our ‘How They Lead’ podcast aims to evolve the way people perform in leadership roles by showcasing a variety of high performance interviews with people from Patrick Kershaw from The RAF Red Arrows to CEO’s like Steve Phillips who help large brands like Pepsi, Mars and Unilever.

Get one step ahead – Click below to subscribe.

Ben Stocken and Ben Wade