Personal trainer Tobias Ottley and yoga guru Simone Da Costa in these pages last week separately made compelling cases for fitness as not only conducive to greater productivity in the workplace but actually essential to well-being in this day and age.
“Your health is your wealth,” Ottley noted. “If you’re sick, you won’t be making any money. A healthy workforce is a more productive one, so that’s why you see companies offering incentives on gym membership refunds, and so on. Because as a boss, I see that if my workforce is happy and healthy they will be more productive.”
And yet because of our hectic schedules the self-awareness required to bring about balance and greater harmony between mind and body can be a challenge to cultivate.
“We spend so much time thinking about everything and everyone else,” Da Costa said. “If you just spend two minutes even paying attention to yourself, that’s what mindfulness is.”
So we’d like to take a moment, or maybe two, to highlight these perspectives and to call for business leaders to contemplate how they can improve the well-being of their teams by facilitating and encouraging cultures of fitness.
Paying attention to fitness improves the overall output of an organisation. But it is also critical to the relationship employees and employers share, with employees feeling more appreciated and having an interest in the success of the company in the long-run.
Simple steps can yield big returns. Each business model is different but companies should feel free to examine the myriad ways they can go about toning their workforce muscle. If it’s affordable, in-house gyms or subsidised packages to gyms are options. Or simply sharing fitness and wellness tips, providing information about free clinics/mental health services and other facilities that might be available from state agencies and non-government organisations. Or even facilitating lectures from health professionals. All of these go a long way toward creating a healthy, productive company.
Of course, it’s one thing to say all of this and another thing to finance it. Understandably, financial considerations tend to trump other factors in the decision-making process. However, if we truly understand the impact of fitness and well-being on workers, we’d realise that it’s not a simple matter of just dollars and cents.
“People looked at personal training and physical health as a luxury and not an asset,” Ottley observed. “Because it was one of the first things people cut from their budget.” That should no longer be the case. And there are studies saying why.
Research at the University of Leeds in 2008 found that on days when employees visited the gym, their work experience shifted. They felt they managed time more effectively, were more productive, and had smoother interactions with colleagues. Overall: They went home feeling more satisfied at the end of the day.
Very often, in a society as small as ours, workers are also dealing with emotional stresses for which they are yet to find an outlet. Mindfulness exercises can, in addition to physical exercise, help by allowing individuals to manage stress and to achieve greater internal harmony.
So let’s take a deep breath, then get to work!