Being active in the workplace: How can we introduce physical activity?

Girona, 19.09.2023, Anna Comet

More and more companies are becoming sensitive to the well-being of their employees. The people in leadership positions in companies are realising that having a healthy workforce at all levels - physical, emotional, psychological and health - is key to the performance of the company itself and, of course, to the well-being of the people.



As a result, more and more companies are introducing policies and measures to take care of their employees in all aspects.



In many cases, the most difficult thing is to implement physical activity programmes, because it is not easy for several reasons: firstly, if we look at society in general, we do not have the tradition and it is necessary to change this mentality, both of the management, who are the ones who have to decide to invest in these actions, and of the staff, who have to believe in and participate in the company's proposals.



On the other hand, because the interests and habits of employees are so varied, it is often not easy to get everyone interested, and those companies that do initiate these programmes generally find it difficult to get a broad response from their staff.



The United States, the Nordic countries and Japan, to name but a few, are countries that are leading the way in this area after pilot tests and various studies have shown that having a physically active and healthy workforce is very beneficial for the companies.



Some of the formulas used in these countries, which are gradually being implemented in our country or which can serve as a mirror to initiate this practice in our companies, are the following:


  • Having a gym on the premises with open access for all employees. It is clear that this option is not available to all companies, especially SMEs.
  • Offer financial facilities for employees to use at a nearby gym.
  • Offer classes for employees: from yoga to functional training, running sessions, walking, etc. Some companies employ technical experts to offer these sessions to interested workers.
  • Organise talks to raise awareness, inform and educate staff.
  • Organise physical activity days such as outings, walks, spinning masterclasses or other activities.



"And should all these activities take place during working hours or outside working hours?" is the big dilemma facing most companies considering such programmes.



At the moment, in our area, most of these activities are being offered outside working hours, but if we look again at the countries that are ahead of us, we see different ways of operating:


  • Companies that have a fixed number of hours per week that workers must prove they have used for physical activity.
  • Companies that reward employees who are physically active - and can prove it. These rewards range from benefits in other company services, to time off on designated days, to financial incentives.



The companies in our territory are probably not yet at this stage, but it is certainly worthwhile to start implementing projects of this kind in order to achieve a healthy society and, as a result, a happier society that is able to perform better.