By Vincent Muasya
The employee is one of the most valuable resources to any enterprise. Having healthy employees will normally translate to increased productivity and ultimately better business. The time that Kenyans are spending at the work place is on an all time high. More time spent at the work place and the increasing dependence on electronics at work easily explains why many Kenyans are overweight and out of shape. In fact, a good percentage of employees in the Kenyan corporate sector do not get adequate exercise. Maintaining a healthy work/ life balance is becoming increasingly important in order to improve productivity. It is not odd to find out that many corporate employees have to extend their time at the office or in the ‘field’ to catch up with unending deadlines and targets. As a result, most of them do not get adequate opportunities to engage in physical activities that will help them improve their physical fitness and ultimately improve their health which could positively have an impact on their productivity. Many corporates borrowing the biblical narrative of Moses have welcomed corporate fitness as a way to mitigate these concerns.
Workplace fitness is an organized program that a company initiates for their employees to help reduce health risks, enhance personal effectiveness, improve quality of life and to benefit the organization’s efficiency. The goal of these corporate fitness programs is to educate and encourage employees to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Benefits of Corporate Fitness
- Fitness Lowers Healthcare Costs
Healthier employees cost less than unhealthy employees. Healthcare industry experts including insurance companies estimate that between 70 to 90 percent of healthcare spending is caused by problems associated with unhealthy lifestyle choices that can lead to chronic diseases. Unhealthy lifestyle choices range from lack of adequate motion, improper nutrition to habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. These choices impede productivity and cost the Kenyan corporate employer millions of shillings each year. Having fit workers results in reduced rate of illness and injuries among employees. Unhealthy employees on the other hand, experience a wide range of work-related injuries such as muscle strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, stress fractures or back pain. Such persons are also predisposed to developing complications such as diabetes, heart disease or a stroke.
· Less Absenteeism
Healthier workers miss fewer days of work. This is so because chances of employees being absent due to ill health become slimmer the fitter the employees get. Physical fitness boosts immunity and positively impacts on one’s health and wellbeing. Sick leave days are thus reduced.
- Less Stress
Contemporary workplace fitness programs educate and help employees on how to feel better on the job, both mentally and physically. Many corporate workers spend much of their workday sitting at a computer screen looking at the computer screen for long hours. This predisposes them to neck, back, shoulders, wrist and arm fatigue which can lead to musculoskeletal injuries and stress. There is need to have employees perform stretching exercises to relax and counter depression and alleviate stress. This also entails tips for proper ergonomics to reduce stress and muscle strain when you are on the job. Such advice includes right posture, adjusting seat height and proper lifting technique.
· Better Work Performance
Employees who are happy and healthy tend to produce a greater volume of work at a higher quality than unhealthy employees. Corporates have realized that implementing fitness programs at the work place ultimately increases the overall output of their employees. Retention of employees has also been reported in companies that have fitness programs for their employees. This in turn lowers recruitment and training cost. The feeling that the employer cares about their overall health tends to keep workers longer in a company. This also fosters team work as employees work out together and bond better in a more relaxed environment. Working out together helps foster the buddy system which is key for encouragement and to improve exercise adherence. These relationships help build a company culture of cooperation that can pay off in increased loyalty and in the overall good will that employees feel toward their employer.
How and where to start
Once the need has been identified, employees have been sensitized, and a service provider has been identified, there are a number of options available. These include:
- Provisions of a room-The Company provides a room that is well lit and well ventilated. This room can double up as a meeting room or even a lunch room. This room becomes the venue for conducting fitness classes that are tailored to meet specific fitness objectives. In this case, the service provider brings along with them weights, music, mats and any other apparatus needed to effectively conduct such classes. These classes are conducted at least three times a week depending on the preferred times by employees.
- Setting up of fitness facility- Where funds allow, a corporate could set up a fitness facility and engage a service provider to manage such a facility.
Vincent Muasya is a corporate wellness consultant with expertise and experience in corporate wellness and fitness programs. He can be reached on 0714 345671 or firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com