· 2 min read · Features

Getting active: Lessons from the sports pitch


Some businesses lag behind in encouraging staff to get active, but simple steps can go a long way

It’s no secret that long days spent sitting at a desk and working on a computer can have a detrimental effect on employee wellbeing and productivity. For many industries this is hard to avoid, but some companies are realising that promoting activity in the workplace can not only improve staff wellbeing but also unlock the true potential of their workforce.

However, there are still businesses lagging behind when it comes to encouraging staff to get active and, while the responsibility does not lie solely with the employer, business heads should lead by example and set the standard for keeping active at work.

Every team has a leader who members look to for inspiration. If junior team members see their managers taking an active responsible approach to wellbeing they are much more likely to examine the way they work and adopt similar practices.

Outside the workplace many people play sport and exercise as a way to clear and focus the mind. Encouraging staff to take a similar approach at work can have the same positive impact. Just as athletes use time on the pitch to let off steam and regain focus, HR managers and employers should also ensure the work day is segmented with times where employees are not at their desks.

Simple steps such as encouraging staff to go for a walk, take the stairs rather than the elevator, and eat lunch outside rather than in front of their screens, could prove incredibly effective for promoting physical wellbeing, helping employees unwind and increasing their alertness.

Employers should also do their utmost to ensure staff are able to adopt a healthy work/life balance. Early starts and late finishes invariably lead to tiredness and lethargy. Ample sleep and regular exercise are not only vital to staying healthy they are also the key to keeping a sharp mind at work. Employees that are considerably exceeding their working hours should be a clear indicator to business owners that something has gone awry.

Success is always an incentive for employees to work hard and this is another lesson that can be translated directly from the sports pitch. Where a tournament victory or landmark win might be the measure of success in the athletic arena, heightened productivity and performance brought about by increased activity might be the benchmark for the workplace. Ensuring every member of the team has bought into the idea of success should be a priority for leaders. Providing encouragement where necessary plays a vital role in promoting a strong culture, especially concerning workplace activity.

Balancing a healthy lifestyle and a demanding job is definitely not easy and any steps that can be taken by an employer to help workers adapt their daily routines to include more exercise are invaluable. The resulting increases in productivity, wellbeing and happiness will be clear.

Alex Danson is a member of Team England, winning gold as part of the Team GB Olympic hockey team in Rio. She is also an ambassador for Shakespeare Martineau