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How to Keep Your Workforce Well

How to Keep Your Workforce Well

Claire Kremer, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach, shares her thoughts on how organisations can create and promote a healthy workforce.

An effective workplace wellbeing programme can be hugely beneficial in reducing sickness and achieving a fit and healthy workforce that is engaged and productive. A typical programme may include free or reduced gym membership or group wellbeing sessions at the office. However, staying active has been more difficult than usual right now with offices, gyms and leisure centres closed in light of the pandemic.

As we all adapt to new ways of working, employee wellness should be even more of a priority for businesses everywhere. The pandemic has predominantly affected those with underlying conditions, many of which could be preventable with a healthy lifestyle, so it makes sense that the focus should be on helping people achieve a healthier lifestyle to reduce their risk of becoming unwell. 

The current crisis has hit business sectors very differently but the single common factor for everyone is that life is infinitely more stressful. Those now working remotely face the mental stress of isolation and the challenges of new workspaces that are not always fit for purpose. Some have the added weight of childcare and home schooling responsibilities or worries about older family members.

Even in these trying times, staying active is crucially important, not just because of the benefits it brings to our physical health but for our mental wellbeing as well. The endorphins released when we exercise make us feel good and help us manage stress. 

The extra time gained from commute-less days is an excellent opportunity for daily exercise, whether it is a walk or something more structured. Managers can encourage their teams to stay active and recommend activities to keep employees in an excellent, healthy mindset. For team members who are keen to participate in regular exercise, taking part in group exercise online or setting fitness goals and practical challenges is a great way to motivate each other and check-in to make sure your counterpart is on track. 

The good news is, there are ways to continue engagement with staff working remotely, to encourage physical fitness and maintain those essential connections with colleagues. We need to think differently and be a bit more creative. As a Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach, my work has changed dramatically in recent months with contracts for face-to-face work with individuals and groups within organisations suspended. However, the need is still there, even more so! Which means I had to take a different approach to engaging with people.

Before lockdown, I designed and delivered wellbeing programmes and activities for a range of organisations from small local companies to multinational corporations, local authorities and our very own NHS. Here’s how a few of the programmes have changed to retain engagement and participation:

  • NHS - Group exercise sessions with NHS staff teams focused on back care, with musculoskeletal problems being the leading cause of sickness or absence due to the nature of their jobs. An exercise session was recorded and sent to staff along with self-care guides and exercise plans for a team to complete in their own time at work or home to continue the preventative work. 

  • Local authority - A popular staff wellbeing programme, including weekly Tai Chi / Qigong sessions, were accessed online to maintain practice and connections between colleagues. The same group still meet at the same time every week and continue their training together with the instructor which has been immensely crucial to maintaining their wellbeing and sense of calm. 

  • Investment company - An investment company wanting to support their colleagues with resources to stay well while working remotely also approached me. Tips were shared on eating well, exercising regularly, boosting the immune system, and managing stress and anxiety.

  • Personal training - Clients switched to online sessions to maintain their fitness routines and personal contact, also crucial in times when we are all feeling isolated. 

Working at home has had a significant impact on people and their wellbeing. The lack of routine, coupled with additional stresses of work at home, family, home schooling, fear for jobs or people living alone and feeling isolated, has all taken its toll. Many have slipped into some poor habits and neglected their health. So with this in mind, I started a programme I called ‘The Post Lockdown Plan’ to help people to take back control of their health, supporting them to make positive changes to their diet and fitness that they can sustain.

The Post Lockdown Plan

The 8-week online programme offers a holistic approach to wellbeing with regular group sessions on nutrition and exercise and one-to-one meetings to track personal goals. Covid-19 has taken its toll on our health and participants from a range of professions all reported similar struggles with eating and drinking habits, lack of exercise, feelings of isolation, and stress or anxiety.

At just three weeks into the programme, individuals are already reporting feeling, leaner, fitter, healthier and stronger with a more positive outlook on life and their future both personally and professionally. That is enormous progress and incredible to be supporting people in achieving these outcomes. 

The virtual solutions we are all now becoming so familiar with have been an essential part of bringing together this group of professionals from different locations and business sectors to share in their journey back to fitness. Online does have a considerable number of benefits to make exercise and healthy living easily accessible for anyone. 

The benefits of online

  • Engage people new to exercise  Online training engages people that may not ordinarily feel comfortable visiting a gym and prefer to exercise in the comfort of their own home. 

  • Saves time – A home workout gives added flexibility in being able to fit exercise into your day if you are pushed for time; there is no need to travel and you can shower at home. 

  • Overcome geography  Online fitness solutions provide an opportunity to reach more people with no limits to where they are located (as long as they have Wi-Fi).

  • Stay connected – Seeing colleagues online for regular sessions to work out helps to maintain those critical social connections with friends and colleagues. 

  • Motivation  Training with others helps to keep you motivated with your fitness and forms positive habits for a healthier lifestyle which you can maintain. 

  • Live sessions  With a more flexible approach to work, people can dial into a live group session where they can train with colleagues and engage with the instructor. 

  • Train on demand – Missed a live session? Simply watch it later or choose the workout that suits you at the right time. 

Workplace wellbeing may look very different from what it did just a few months ago but there is a solution to suit everyone and every organisation. Businesses have had to make significant changes in how they operate and how their teams work. Individual needs have changed too, so we need to change with it to make sure that staff are supported and staying fit and well, wherever they are! 

Businesses are gradually getting back to a new normal, but it is going to be a slow process. Now is the ideal time for companies to start thinking about how to engage with their employees to make sure that they are healthy and supported to do their job, ready to hit the ground running when things pick up!

Thanks to Claire Kremer for sharing this article.

Author: Claire Kremer, founder of CK Fitness, is a Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach. Qualified in fitness instruction, nutrition and wellbeing coaching, she has worked in the health and wellbeing industry for over 15 years and has coached individuals and groups to achieve personal health and fitness goals. Find out more here www.ckfitnessandwellbeing.co.uk

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