As a recruitment firm, Frazer John is more aware than most that hiring the right people is considerably easier than retaining them. Keeping your employees engaged and invested in your business is essential, not only to prevent a revolving door of hires but also getting the most out of your team.
Finding a simple solution that not only raises employee satisfaction and enriches your company culture, but actively boosts motivation and productivity may seem impossible. Surprisingly, it’s not, and the answer lies well outside the standard sphere of corporate concerns: Fitness At Work.
Back in the 90s, Google cracked open the Fitness At Work egg by taking a completely different approach to the monotonous and dreary cubicle swamps that constituted the standard workplace, introducing a wellness at work program to ensure employee satisfaction.
Google’s philosophy and the reasoning behind it was that helping employees exercise and stay fit and healthy, helped get the best possible performance from their people.
It caught on.
Employers began bringing exercise and fitness into the workplace more frequently, and an emerging culture of Workplace Wellness Programmes was born.
So, if you’ve noticed your employees are less than peppy, have lost their zeal, and are generally a little lacklustre in their performance and attitude to work, try adding a little fitness regime.
Encouraging an active lifestyle among your workers is just what the proverbial doctor ordered.
For example, at Frazer John, we host the Manchester 3000, an annual Endurance charity event to encourage other businesses to get involved in the fitness at work drive. We make sure the kitchen is always well-stocked with fruit, and that all our drinks and syrups are sugar-free, so our team can keep their energy levels up and get some happy vitamins with healthy snacks. (We keep the other fridge well stocked with beers…the key is balance!)
If all that sounds like a lot of effort to invest in an area that seems to fall well outside the bounds of professional concerns, there are a few things you should know about the benefits of a fitness at work programme…
Engaging in regular exercise is an energising experience. It may sound counter-intuitive – after all, exercise means expending energy – but getting your body moving regularly actually changes your brain chemistry, stimulating the pituitary gland and releasing endorphins.
Those endorphins trigger feelings of euphoria and are the cause of the so-called ‘runner’s high’, which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever run for fun, rather than doing it only when you’re late or trying to catch a train.
The good news is that, despite the name, anyone can experience the runner’s high regardless of the exercise they choose. Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise is enough to trigger that endorphin release, and it is an amazing motivator.
It’s a chemical release the brain has designed to give you an extra boost when you would otherwise start flagging. It’s there to ensure you can keep going – a callback to the days we had to outrun very large predators on a regular basis, and we didn’t get to eat if we weren’t fast enough to catch our dinner.
Modern humans retain this motivational pick-me-up, and it’s a great way of keeping your team’s enthusiasm levels high. Exercising before work or during your lunch break puts you in the perfect frame of mind for getting a lot done at the office.
Frazer John decided to partner with The Gym Group to provide a number of benefits for our team from specially designed classes to discounted memberships. Having a fitness programme in the workplace that includes things like gym memberships or exercise classes is a great way to encourage your employees to give themselves that natural endorphin boost and motivate them in their work.
Exercising on a regular basis actually changes your body on a cellular level, increasing your energy levels, while boosting your cells and the energy production in the brain.
Not only do you feel more alert and energised, your mind is literally running more efficiently, which increases the cognitive power of your mind.
Even short bursts of regular exercise can sharpen your awareness, and studies have shown that businesses who invest in health and fitness programmes reap the benefits of increased levels of certain brain chemicals required for performing higher functions including multi-tasking, memory, and problem-solving.
Exercise is actually kind of magic, triggering a process called neurogenesis, the generation of new neurons which raise BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) levels in the brain. This is great because it not only protects the existing neurons in the brain, ensuring you retain your current levels of cognitive function, the reparative effect it has can give you an improved sense of clarity.
Beyond that, a study by the University of British Columbia revealed that aerobic exercise on a regular basis increases the size of your hippocampus. This is the area of the brain that regulates learning and memory.
All of this is spectacularly good for doing one crucial thing:
It isn’t only the desire and inclination to work hard that is improved by regular exercise. Keeping yourself physically fit while eating regularly and healthily keeps your body and mind in tip-top condition.
You have more energy, increased focus, and are less likely to succumb to burnout. All of this does wonders for your productivity.
If you’re struggling to get your team performing at optimum efficiency, taking a step back from the workflows and other practical elements at play. Focusing on ensuring your people are well nourished and physically active is a simple but surprisingly effective way of whipping them in the shape.
Improving focus and concentration levels as well as creativity and drive, all results in a team that is considerably more productive when they regularly indulge in a little exercise and regular healthy snacks!
A lot of variables affect job satisfaction but generally speaking the healthier and happier your employees are the more likely it is they will be satisfied with their role and the company they work.
When you partake in a wellness programme at work, all those positive endorphins and nutrients swimming through your system make you feel really good. That happy feeling is associated with your job, even if you’re not consciously aware of it, meaning you naturally start to feel more positive about work.
Beyond that, including exercise and fitness in the workplace breaks up the monotony. With the best will in the world, all jobs get repetitive, dull, and draining at times.
It’s the difference between eating some fast food while hunched over your desk, trying to get a tedious task finished and dreading the rest of the day, and spending an hour at a yoga class before grabbing a healthy wrap and a smoothie, and returning to your desk refreshed and rejuvenated.
Despite our best efforts to create happy workplace environments, it’s a sad truth that stress and depression are the main causes of absenteeism. If your business is a high-pressure environment this is even truer, and even more difficult to manage.
Alongside weight loss and enhanced fitness, the main reason people engage in exercise, visit the gym and take fitness classes is to relieve and manage stress.
The nine-to-five grind has a physiological effect on the body. Increasing your heart rate and improving your blood flow through regular exercise counteracts the physical side-effects of stress, while all those lovely endorphins and the production of hormones like norepinephrine enhance mood and help your brain function properly.
Stress-management is essential to health and wellness, and high-stress jobs often make this incredibly difficult. As an employer, the role you give your employees places them in situations they often find impossible to manage. Long working hours make trips to the gym and regular exercise difficult to fit in. It’s easier to grab a ready meal, or get takeaway when they finally make it home after a long day at work, than it is to cook a healthy meal.
It’s surprisingly easy to help ease the tensions caused by the roles your employees endure while working for you by incorporating exercise into their day. Cultivating a business culture that has active social events, encourages mindfulness, and uses simple tricks like walking meetings is an easy way to inject a little exercise and cut the stress.
All of Frazer John’s employees make a small contribution into a regular social fund. The company matches the amount they contribute, and we use this for fun activities the team can do together. We encourage everyone to suggest ideas for these days, everything from Go Karting to climbing Snowdon, crazy golf, crystal mazes – the only limit is our imagination.
We also have an annual ski trip to Megeve, for those who over-perform.
Here’s another thing the business world spends an inordinate amount of energy trying to achieve: coherent teams that trust each other and work as a completely cohesive unit.
Simple as it may sound, the best way to instil a little team spirit is not to send your people to a retreat, or special training, or to force them to do excruciating trust falls, it’s simply to engage them in a little fitness training. And let me tell you, 6 weeks at one of Frazer John’s infamous bootcamps will throw all colleague barriers out the window. Sharing that kind of pain seals a bond that any working team would benefit from.
At Frazer John we run our bootcamp 2-3 times a week, and often finish early on a Monday so staff can get in a little exercise. We start off with a beginners’ bootcamp to ease in newbies for six weeks before they graduate to the real bootcamp (which is a little more hardcore). Part of bootcamp is hosting competitions for the regulars, with private PT sessions up for grabs for whoever attends the most sessions and extra classes. Fitness experts will tell you that working in a team towards a common goal – whether it’s improving their fitness, winning a match, or light-heartedly competing for a prize among themselves – makes your employees less likely quit, and more likely to remain energised and motivated at work.
Combining group activities with non-work-related settings helps break the ice when teams are trying to wrap their head around professional projects. It’s a lot easier to settle into a group dynamic of mutual respect in which everyone feels heard, valued, and confident in voicing their opinions, when you all spot each other at the gym.
And if working together doesn’t do the trick, try running a competition to generate some healthy rivalry!
Another crucial factor in leading a healthy, happy, productive life, is sleep. A healthy routine, good nutrition and regular exercise help you sleep better. Regular sleep is proven to relieve depression, stress, and illness.
So not only does fitness at work give you all the benefits of a team that’s fully rested, that rest doubles the benefits you’re already reaping in terms of increased concentration, motivation and clarity of thought.
The other natural (and rather more obvious) benefit of a fitness at work programme is that it improves fitness. As well as the benefits this brings your employees and their work, it has another great practical benefit for you – reduced health costs.
A lot of employee benefits packages include healthcare. The healthier your employees are, the lower those premiums stay. Beyond that, ill-health leads to sick days and diminished work performance.
Regular exercise and strong nutrition will make your employees less likely to become sick and reduce the severity of any injuries. Exercise is actually proven to enhance your immune system.
This is great for them, but also for you.
With no need to pay for sick days, hire cover, or deal with work going undone, the healthier your employees are, the more smoothly your business will run, and the lower your costs will be.
The upshot of all of this is that investing in a fitness programme means your employees will be happier at work. They’ll be more highly motivated and more productive, less likely to become stressed, ill, or need to take time off, and will function better as a team. Better still, they will be more likely to stay with the company long-term, increasing staff retention.
While we’re all for hunting down the perfect people to work in your business, we’re also well aware of the importance of keeping hold of them once you have them. Higher staff retention ensures stability in your business, and reduces the time and costs associated with constantly hunting for replacement personnel.
Beyond that, part of attracting the best of the best when you’re recruiting for a role is demonstrating an exceptional company culture. Here at Frazer John we are dedicated to promoting fitness and nutrition in the workplace and it’s a huge draw when we’re looking to recruit new members of the team.
Nothing says you care about your people like prioritising their health…