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Step into an active workplace


Quality of Life Observer

- Corporate

- Jul 15 2014

Hundreds of employees across the UK and Ireland participated in the 6-week Step into Summer program organized by Sodexo. The results of the workplace health initiative made one thing clear: an active employee is a better employee – both personally and professionally.


When Sodexo sought out volunteers who were willing to strap on a pedometer and take 10,000 steps per day, 600 employees stepped up to the challenge. Those who successfully completed the program, taking an average of 6,000 – 10,000 steps per day, experienced marked physical improvements, with many losing weight, reducing their body fat percentage and lowering blood pressure levels.

“To put the challenge into perspective, the average office employee usually takes roughly 3,000 – 4,000 steps per day,” says Wan Mak, Sodexo’s head of nutrition and dietetics in the UK. With some employees tracking as many as 15,000 – 25,000 steps per day, employees walked a total of 90,000 miles during the course of the program – enough to circle the planet four times.

Physical and psychological benefits

On top of benefits, individuals who participate in this type of corporate challenge report overall wellbeing improvements – including higher confidence and self-esteem, better sleep and concentration levels and a significant reduction in stress.

In the ever-stressful environment of today’s workplace, it is increasingly important for companies to encourage their employees to be active while at work. The rate of job burnout and depression is highest among employees who don’t engage in physical activity. It then follows that companies that prioritize workplace health have a higher percentage of employees present at work each day, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Active employees are also significantly more productive than their less active counterparts – a clear benefit for companies.

Designing an active workplace

Health care giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) gave a nod to employee health and wellbeing with the opening of its new office in Philadelphia in 2013. Among many features, the layout of the space incorporates centralized, shallow staircases, specifically aimed at increasing walking. This design element reduced the number of elevator-riding employees from 95 percent to just 20 percent. Additional basic adjustments, such as centralizing the location of meeting rooms, printers and trash cans also urged employees to walk around the office more frequently.

Going a step further to encourage increased movement among employees, GSK joins companies such as Hearst Magazines, Conde Nast and SiverTech with its installation of treadmill desks in some workstations. A recent study published in PLoS ONE tracked the productivity of 43 workers who used treadmill desks for a one-year period. Researchers found that, following an initial “breaking in” period, workers at treadmill desks produce a higher quality and quantity of work. According to employee surveys, treadmill workers also improved the quality of interaction they had with colleagues, further contributing to a healthy work environment for everyone.

How does your company incentivize an active work environment?

 

1 Get Moving: Easy Tips to Get Active!, America Heart Association
2 8 Ways to Promote Wellness in the Workplace, Inc.

 

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Step into an active workplace

Hundreds of employees across the UK and Ireland participated in the 6-week Step into Summer program organized by Sodexo. The results of the workplace health initiative made one thing clear: an active employee is a better employee – both personally and professionally.

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