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Active workforce

UK Active’s Alex Lucas explains the findings of a new report which shows how the fitness and leisure sector can help transform workforce activity levels in the new hybrid workplace


The total cost to the UK of physically inactive workers – measured through healthcare costs and productivity loss – is up to US$20.8bn (£17bn) annually, according to a new research report Economic Health and Societal Wellbeing: Quantifying the Impact of the Global Health and Fitness Sector (www.hcmmag.com/GHFA), published this month. A fitter workforce could reverse this situation, saving the UK economy £17bn annually.

This groundbreaking study was carried out by Deloitte for the The Global Health and Fitness Alliance (GHFA), with support from IHRSA, and surveyed 90 per cent of the global health and fitness market across 46 countries, finding a total impact of US$91.22bn.

The figure underlines not only the huge impact physical inactivity has on our economy, but also the major opportunities associated with having a more active workforce.

New UK Active report
On the same topic, earlier this month, UK Active published The Active Workforce, its inaugural research report focusing on workplace physical activity opportunities and needs in small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the role the fitness and leisure sector – among others – plays in this.

The research indicates that of the SMEs surveyed, 44 per cent do not currently provide opportunities for their staff to be physically active during the day and 32.4 per cent don’t feel their organisation has the support it needs to do this.

Of the SMEs that do put opportunities in place, there was a preference for low-cost, easy-to-implement support, such as the Cycle to Work Scheme (39.7 per cent) or team physical activity challenges and competitions (22.1 per cent).

More traditional forms of support from the sector, such as discounted gym memberships or providing exercise equipment, were some of the opportunities least taken-up by SMEs (at 7.4 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively), due to the associated cost and the perception that the smaller size of their organisation made them unsuitable for the offer.

When asked where support should come from in improving workplace physical activity, 18.6 per cent of SMEs stated the physical activity, fitness and leisure sector, then government health bodies and membership bodies (23.6 per cent and 20.1 per cent respectively).

Partnership with Sport England
The findings of The Active Workforce report are the culmination of a research consultation conducted by the UK Active Research Institute in partnership with Sport England.

The report makes eight recommendations to support opportunities for employees to be active during the working day, with these targeted at government, health sector organisations, business umbrella groups, the fitness and leisure sector, and SME employers.

Unlike most of the current research around workplace physical activity, this research specifically focused on SMEs because, while they account for 99.9 per cent of UK businesses – and roughly half of the UKs private sector turnover – they have less access to, or means to provide, opportunities for physical activity.

Many known solutions to the business community are for large corporate-based organisations, yet SMEs are often faced with smaller budgets, more financial challenges and may actually need more support in this area.

This is especially the case since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time the nation’s physical and mental health has been hard hit.

Research already exists showing the positive link between physical activity and good mental health, and that being more active at work has multiple benefits. It can make us feel more satisfied about our work, improve overall perceptions of wellbeing at work, boost productivity and focus and act as a protective factor against the prolonged periods of sedentary time, or musculoskeletal problems we may face when working in certain roles.

Throughout our lifetimes, we spend a lot of time at work – nine years on average. Therefore, we need work to be a place that allows both our mental and physical health to flourish and be maintained, instead of restricted.

Who’s ultimately responsible?
But how much of a priority is workplace health for policymakers? In the UK, the government says ‘improving wellbeing, healthy life expectancy and productivity’, and ‘reducing health inequalities by 2030’ are major objectives within its ‘levelling up’ agenda. Former UK chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, told business leaders at the CBI Annual Dinner in May 2022: “If we want to raise productivity in this country we need to do more to support those already in work. We need [employers] to invest more, train more, and innovate more. Our firm plan is to reduce and reform your taxes to encourage you to do all those things. That is the path to higher productivity, higher living standards, and a more prosperous and secure future.”

With this in mind, The Active Workforce highlights that, while a variety of parties from a national to a local level have a role to play in supporting workplace physical activity, government has a specific role in terms of providing financial support to SMEs through incentivisation and tax relief.

This would encourage and facilitate businesses with smaller budgets to invest in workplace physical activity opportunities for employees.

The report recommends the government further supports opportunities for SME employees to be active during working hours by considering the expansion of existing schemes, such as Cycle to Work, to include options that support home working (eg, access to home physical activity equipment and gym membership) as well as office-based working.

Opportunities to support our productivity and wellbeing through engaging in regular physical activity have been drastically reduced by the pandemic, and the shift to hybrid working. Businesses clearly have a role to play by stepping up and supporting work environments – whether in a physical location or remotely – that allow employees to take the time to look after their own health.

Our research findings indicate senior leaders can play a powerful role in shaping workplace culture and – through role modelling and giving permission and flexibility – empowering employees to take time for themselves to be active and keep well.

The opportunity for our sector
As our findings highlight, smaller businesses need help. Our sector is in a prime position to offer expertise and relevant services and products to SMEs, however, SMEs surveyed and interviewed felt current workplace physical activity solutions offered by our sector are not applicable for them.

The Active Workforce report highlights there is in fact plenty of work going on within our sector to provide workplace health products for smaller businesses, including collaborations with gyms and aggregators, and specially-funded workplace wellness initiatives working with wellbeing charities.

Nonetheless, there’s a need to ensure the services the sector offers are fully accessible to SMEs and meet their needs. Specifically, two recommendations have been developed by UK Active for fitness operators and providers to consider:

1. Firstly, improve awareness of existing services among SMEs through targeted marketing to these businesses, working in collaboration with partners to improve local reach and working with UK Active to showcase the services the sector can offer.

2. Secondly, think holistically about workplace offers – for example, consider partnerships with broader wellbeing service providers to integrate physical activity into holistic wellbeing packages for businesses, as well as offering hybrid models of delivery.

The breadth of The Active Workforce recommendations point to the important role that different sectors and organisations have in this agenda, and hence the need for partnerships to facilitate collaboration and support our sector to put the recommendations in place.

Be part of the levelling up agenda
As the trade body for the sector, UK Active has always looked to champion the role the sector plays in supporting the nation’s health, while facilitating opportunities for it to grow. This report positions the sector and the role of workplace physical activity as a key part of achieving the government’s agenda of ‘levelling up’ population health and wellbeing. There’s a clear opportunity to showcase the best of what our sector can offer, and further demonstrate the important role it can play by continuing to connect services with local businesses.

Partnerships between business and local leisure is one way to do this – and it’s also one of the many ways UK Active can support its membership and help the sector to grow. The creation of opportunities that allow the fitness and leisure sector and the business community to co-design and interact could maximise the exposure of the sector’s services, and SMEs’ access to these services.

This research provides the first stepping-stone for collaboration and partnership between our sector and business in this area. However, the conversation has only just started and we’ll continue to help shape and grow this area of work through a process of co-creation and with direct input from SMEs and our sector. Together, we can begin to drive positive change for the UK’s workforce.

Get involved: email [email protected]

Get the report: www.hcmmag.com/ActiveWorkforce

Workplace wellness checklist
Connect your health club with local businesses to extend your reach

• Improve awareness of your existing services through targeted marketing to local SMEs

• Make the economic case for investment in workplace wellness, using the Deloitte report

• Be aware that senior leaders in SMEs can play a powerful role in shaping workplace culture

• Influence them to empower employees to take time for themselves to be active and keep well

• Work with partners, such as Active partnerships, to improve local reach into SMEs

• Think holistically about the workplace offers you develop

• Consider partnerships with broader wellbeing service providers

• Offer hybrid models of delivery and toolkits to local businesses for home workouts

• Connect your service with local businesses using your networks, such as your existing members

• Create opportunities for business and operators to connect, co-design products and programmes and to interact

Alex Lucas

Employers must allow teams enough time to look after their health Credit: Photo: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Being active at work improves productivity and job satisfaction Credit: Photo: shutterstock/anek.soowannaphoom
The Cycle to Work scheme is popular with SMEs Credit: Photo: Shutterstock/BGStock72
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Jobs    News   Products   Magazine
Policy
Active workforce

UK Active’s Alex Lucas explains the findings of a new report which shows how the fitness and leisure sector can help transform workforce activity levels in the new hybrid workplace


The total cost to the UK of physically inactive workers – measured through healthcare costs and productivity loss – is up to US$20.8bn (£17bn) annually, according to a new research report Economic Health and Societal Wellbeing: Quantifying the Impact of the Global Health and Fitness Sector (www.hcmmag.com/GHFA), published this month. A fitter workforce could reverse this situation, saving the UK economy £17bn annually.

This groundbreaking study was carried out by Deloitte for the The Global Health and Fitness Alliance (GHFA), with support from IHRSA, and surveyed 90 per cent of the global health and fitness market across 46 countries, finding a total impact of US$91.22bn.

The figure underlines not only the huge impact physical inactivity has on our economy, but also the major opportunities associated with having a more active workforce.

New UK Active report
On the same topic, earlier this month, UK Active published The Active Workforce, its inaugural research report focusing on workplace physical activity opportunities and needs in small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the role the fitness and leisure sector – among others – plays in this.

The research indicates that of the SMEs surveyed, 44 per cent do not currently provide opportunities for their staff to be physically active during the day and 32.4 per cent don’t feel their organisation has the support it needs to do this.

Of the SMEs that do put opportunities in place, there was a preference for low-cost, easy-to-implement support, such as the Cycle to Work Scheme (39.7 per cent) or team physical activity challenges and competitions (22.1 per cent).

More traditional forms of support from the sector, such as discounted gym memberships or providing exercise equipment, were some of the opportunities least taken-up by SMEs (at 7.4 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively), due to the associated cost and the perception that the smaller size of their organisation made them unsuitable for the offer.

When asked where support should come from in improving workplace physical activity, 18.6 per cent of SMEs stated the physical activity, fitness and leisure sector, then government health bodies and membership bodies (23.6 per cent and 20.1 per cent respectively).

Partnership with Sport England
The findings of The Active Workforce report are the culmination of a research consultation conducted by the UK Active Research Institute in partnership with Sport England.

The report makes eight recommendations to support opportunities for employees to be active during the working day, with these targeted at government, health sector organisations, business umbrella groups, the fitness and leisure sector, and SME employers.

Unlike most of the current research around workplace physical activity, this research specifically focused on SMEs because, while they account for 99.9 per cent of UK businesses – and roughly half of the UKs private sector turnover – they have less access to, or means to provide, opportunities for physical activity.

Many known solutions to the business community are for large corporate-based organisations, yet SMEs are often faced with smaller budgets, more financial challenges and may actually need more support in this area.

This is especially the case since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time the nation’s physical and mental health has been hard hit.

Research already exists showing the positive link between physical activity and good mental health, and that being more active at work has multiple benefits. It can make us feel more satisfied about our work, improve overall perceptions of wellbeing at work, boost productivity and focus and act as a protective factor against the prolonged periods of sedentary time, or musculoskeletal problems we may face when working in certain roles.

Throughout our lifetimes, we spend a lot of time at work – nine years on average. Therefore, we need work to be a place that allows both our mental and physical health to flourish and be maintained, instead of restricted.

Who’s ultimately responsible?
But how much of a priority is workplace health for policymakers? In the UK, the government says ‘improving wellbeing, healthy life expectancy and productivity’, and ‘reducing health inequalities by 2030’ are major objectives within its ‘levelling up’ agenda. Former UK chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, told business leaders at the CBI Annual Dinner in May 2022: “If we want to raise productivity in this country we need to do more to support those already in work. We need [employers] to invest more, train more, and innovate more. Our firm plan is to reduce and reform your taxes to encourage you to do all those things. That is the path to higher productivity, higher living standards, and a more prosperous and secure future.”

With this in mind, The Active Workforce highlights that, while a variety of parties from a national to a local level have a role to play in supporting workplace physical activity, government has a specific role in terms of providing financial support to SMEs through incentivisation and tax relief.

This would encourage and facilitate businesses with smaller budgets to invest in workplace physical activity opportunities for employees.

The report recommends the government further supports opportunities for SME employees to be active during working hours by considering the expansion of existing schemes, such as Cycle to Work, to include options that support home working (eg, access to home physical activity equipment and gym membership) as well as office-based working.

Opportunities to support our productivity and wellbeing through engaging in regular physical activity have been drastically reduced by the pandemic, and the shift to hybrid working. Businesses clearly have a role to play by stepping up and supporting work environments – whether in a physical location or remotely – that allow employees to take the time to look after their own health.

Our research findings indicate senior leaders can play a powerful role in shaping workplace culture and – through role modelling and giving permission and flexibility – empowering employees to take time for themselves to be active and keep well.

The opportunity for our sector
As our findings highlight, smaller businesses need help. Our sector is in a prime position to offer expertise and relevant services and products to SMEs, however, SMEs surveyed and interviewed felt current workplace physical activity solutions offered by our sector are not applicable for them.

The Active Workforce report highlights there is in fact plenty of work going on within our sector to provide workplace health products for smaller businesses, including collaborations with gyms and aggregators, and specially-funded workplace wellness initiatives working with wellbeing charities.

Nonetheless, there’s a need to ensure the services the sector offers are fully accessible to SMEs and meet their needs. Specifically, two recommendations have been developed by UK Active for fitness operators and providers to consider:

1. Firstly, improve awareness of existing services among SMEs through targeted marketing to these businesses, working in collaboration with partners to improve local reach and working with UK Active to showcase the services the sector can offer.

2. Secondly, think holistically about workplace offers – for example, consider partnerships with broader wellbeing service providers to integrate physical activity into holistic wellbeing packages for businesses, as well as offering hybrid models of delivery.

The breadth of The Active Workforce recommendations point to the important role that different sectors and organisations have in this agenda, and hence the need for partnerships to facilitate collaboration and support our sector to put the recommendations in place.

Be part of the levelling up agenda
As the trade body for the sector, UK Active has always looked to champion the role the sector plays in supporting the nation’s health, while facilitating opportunities for it to grow. This report positions the sector and the role of workplace physical activity as a key part of achieving the government’s agenda of ‘levelling up’ population health and wellbeing. There’s a clear opportunity to showcase the best of what our sector can offer, and further demonstrate the important role it can play by continuing to connect services with local businesses.

Partnerships between business and local leisure is one way to do this – and it’s also one of the many ways UK Active can support its membership and help the sector to grow. The creation of opportunities that allow the fitness and leisure sector and the business community to co-design and interact could maximise the exposure of the sector’s services, and SMEs’ access to these services.

This research provides the first stepping-stone for collaboration and partnership between our sector and business in this area. However, the conversation has only just started and we’ll continue to help shape and grow this area of work through a process of co-creation and with direct input from SMEs and our sector. Together, we can begin to drive positive change for the UK’s workforce.

Get involved: email [email protected]

Get the report: www.hcmmag.com/ActiveWorkforce

Workplace wellness checklist
Connect your health club with local businesses to extend your reach

• Improve awareness of your existing services through targeted marketing to local SMEs

• Make the economic case for investment in workplace wellness, using the Deloitte report

• Be aware that senior leaders in SMEs can play a powerful role in shaping workplace culture

• Influence them to empower employees to take time for themselves to be active and keep well

• Work with partners, such as Active partnerships, to improve local reach into SMEs

• Think holistically about the workplace offers you develop

• Consider partnerships with broader wellbeing service providers

• Offer hybrid models of delivery and toolkits to local businesses for home workouts

• Connect your service with local businesses using your networks, such as your existing members

• Create opportunities for business and operators to connect, co-design products and programmes and to interact

Alex Lucas

Employers must allow teams enough time to look after their health Credit: Photo: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Being active at work improves productivity and job satisfaction Credit: Photo: shutterstock/anek.soowannaphoom
The Cycle to Work scheme is popular with SMEs Credit: Photo: Shutterstock/BGStock72
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Losing weight, building strength, ageing in good health: whatever takes you to the fitness club, it needs to be addressed specifically. One size doesn’t simply fit all. Up until today. Find out more...
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HEALING SUMMIT 2022 - The Healing of Everything

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2022 Salt Therapy Association Conference

Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
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ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

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Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2022

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