Supporting a healthy workforce
The links between lack of physical activity and obesity, high blood pressure and heart problems have been well documented. Further, the benefits of increased physical activity and the related improvements to mental health and wellbeing, is also well understood. Five years ago, we decided to tackle this challenge head on, and support our workforce to make a change towards more healthy lifestyles.
Our health and wellbeing campaign has included an annual calendar with monthly tips and advice on a variety of topics from allergy awareness to the benefits of a vegetarian diet and reducing alcohol intake. We supplement this with practical Toolbox Talks and posters to ensure that our whole workforce is included and engaged in this wellbeing effort. In addition, the start-up screen on all company PC and laptops change each month to reflect the theme we are promoting.
However, where we have made the greatest ‘strides’ is in our promotion of a walk to health campaign – called Steps to Health.
The Steps to Health campaign, as its name suggests, is an annual walking challenge. Run every May, teams are created from across our businesses, not only in the UK, but across Canada and America.
The teams of four have been really creative when it comes to names, with anything ranging from Agony of De Feet to Red Hot Chilli Steppers! Each individual in each team records their steps using a variety of means – from pedometers to smart watches and phone apps.
Team performance is measured in a number of ways. The weekly and overall step-count results speak for themselves. A league table is produced each week to show where each team is ranked. This encourages healthy competition and provides motivation for individuals to do more to make lifestyle changes whilst also improving their team’s overall standing.
The campaign and competition is all about individual and team motivation to consciously do more exercise and hopefully start to make a step-change to their lifestyle. Whilst there is always some scepticism regarding some ‘impressive’ performance statistics, the campaign is very much designed to enable individuals to make better and healthier choices, improving wellbeing and mindfulness as a result.
So, has it been a success? The winning team in the UK last year walked a total of 2,925,088 steps during the five weeks in May– that’s the equivalent of walking from London to Oslo, and back again!
There has also been a huge amount of anecdotal feedback about this being the trigger individuals needed to fit more physical exercise into their daily routines. There have also been individual stories of dramatic lifestyle changes, with some resulting in considerable weight loss and health improvements. One colleague from Canada walked over 20,000 steps every day!
This May sees the return of our campaign, with 180 teams – that’s 720 individuals signed up and ready to lace up their trainers. I hope the sun shines on them all, and we all continue to benefit from this fun, active campaign. I for one, am hoping to better my record of last year.