Story Published: February 2012
A new industry study has shown that workplace-supported, low-impact daily physical activity can significantly boost employees' resilience and performance to deliver healthy returns for both employee and employer alike.
The findings come from The Multi-Business Study into the Effect of Low Impact Physical Activity on Employee Health and Wellbeing 2011, a combined Foundation for Chronic Disease Prevention in the Workplace (FCDP) and Lancaster University Centre of Organizational Health & Wellbeing study into the physical and psychological impact of leading corporate health program - Global Corporate Challenge® (GCC) - on 752 UK and US-based employees (of varying age, gender, health and base fitness level).
"In the current economic and political climate, business survival more than ever will depend upon having an engaged, fit and resilient workforce" declared FCDP Research Director, Dr David Batman.
"Businesses are acknowledging the importance of investment in employee health and wellbeing, both physically and psychologically, however a lack of knowledge and moreover evidentiary proof presents a real barrier. Our study aimed to remedy this evidence gap and provide a clinical evaluation of workplace wellness in action – specifically, the impact of the Global Corporate Challenge initiative on employee wellbeing and performance" said Dr Batman.
Sourced from six leading organisations based in the UK and US (Tesco plc, Hays Recruitment Services, Kraft Foods UK, Tyco Fire Products and Wood Group), study subjects were provided pedometers and challenged to walk 10,000 steps per day over GCC's 16 week virtual walk around the world. Self-reported questionnaires and on-site biometric screening recorded their physical activity levels, (physical and psychological) health and performance indicators before and after GCC participation, with ultimate analysis delivering a compelling case for getting workers walking.
In boosting the physical, emotional and mental condition of employees, GCC delivered immediate and measurable performance benefits to employers across improved employee morale, engagement and productivity. Furthermore, study data indicates adoption of the more active lifestyle habits by employees after GCC conclusion, suggesting sustained return, as well as an anticipated reduction in absenteeism and sick leave taken, and decline in health care pensions and payouts over the long term.
"This study demonstrates the universal benefits of increased physical activity to individuals and their employers" said Lancaster University's Professor Susan Cartwright of the findings.
"Walking has the advantage of other forms of physical activity in that it is easy to incorporate into one's daily routine – and hence this makes it more sustainable."
As such, the study findings endorse the considerable potential of an effective low-impact, workplace wellness initiative to deliver immediate and sustained bottom-line benefits to both employee and employer. More specifically, the proven power of the Global Corporate Challenge to do so.
"The results of our joint research with Lancaster University provides the data to support that getting employees more physically active can not only have a dramatic impact on an individual's physical health, but also has the potential to boost productivity. The benefits to employer are evident in the form of a more engaged and higher-performing workforce." concluded Dr. Batman.
"Moreover, the results clearly show that investment in the Global Corporate Challenge will lead to marked increase in employee performance and a significant impact on business performance" he said.
Also featured on: Lancaster University News
Edited by: N.Thomason