Work & Wellbeing

Walk this way: Five reasons to get your employees on their feet today

6 min read

27 April 2018

With 27 April marking On Your Feet Day, an annual event that encourages employees to sit less and stand more, Real Business hears from five executives who’ve ‘taken a stand’ against excessive sitting and fostered a culture of movement in their organisations.

Did you know that the average desk worker sits for 12 hours a day? So-called ‘Sitting disease’ is becoming a real epidemic that is plaguing our nation, leading to severe health problems such as obesity, diabetes and mental health issues.

The World Health Organisation recently cited physical inactivity as the fourth biggest threat to global mortality and this is significant because it’s the first time that death from lifestyle related, preventable disease has overtaken death from infectious disease.

The challenge for those of us with desk-based jobs is that the only way to meet daily expenditure requirements is with an active work style.  But the good news is that it is easy to make a change!

By encouraging employees to move more during the workday, directors and managers can play a huge role in improving the wellbeing of their workers. Below, five executives explain why why we all need to get moving.

Lisa Dixon, HR manager at Touchdown PR

“At Touchdown PR, we encourage our colleagues to stand more by involving them to join in with a number of lunchtime activities. These include things like Running Club and Walking Lunches where we all take between 30-60 minutes to get out of the office to refresh our minds and analyse the day so far, whilst carrying out some healthy exercise.

“We also encourage stand up meetings during the day as we believe that standing up gets the creativity flowing much more than when you’re slumped in the same chair and office day in day out.

“We feel it’s important to encourage our colleagues to do these things as not only is it good for the mind, body and soul, but it also boosts the morale in the workplace meaning our employees go away feeling happy about their job and thinking positively about the days, weeks and months to come.

“We also think it’s important for all our staff to look after each other as well as themselves, so any activity we can do together, we will.”

Michel Spruijt, general manager for EMEA at Ergotron

“Reducing sedentary time at work and in leisure time continues to be a topic that needs attention. Despite widespread knowledge of the negative impacts of extended sitting at work, many workers in the UK are still unaware of sitting disease, and the majority haven’t changed their workday behaviour.

“Many spend on average 75% of their workday sitting. Not surprisingly, the cost of unwell workers has skyrocketed to 10-15% of global economic output. The challenge for a stand-up day is to raise awareness both for employers and employees, and start creating an office culture where frequent movement is encouraged and accepted.

“Making changes to the workplace can positively impact choices outside of the office as well, with the ultimate goal of supporting healthier employees and a healthier economy.”

Tom Harwood, co-founder and CPO at Aeriandi

“We know that exercise boosts productivity. Keeping fit helps us stay more alert, and scientists now believe it may even boost the intelligence of your children and grandchildren!

“But, it’s easy for us to forget this while we’re deep in concentration at work, particularly when glued to a screen. I encourage everyone to make sure they get on their feet when they can and grab some time for a quick walk. I find that when I do, I’m always more refreshed and productive when I get back.”

Luke Brown, VP for EMEA at WinMagic

“Our largely service-based economy has resulted in the majority of us doing office-based jobs. And that means most of us simply don’t get off our backsides enough.

“With time pressures and short deadlines, it’s easy to remain glued to your desk from dawn to dusk – but in truth, evidence is mounting to show that that being active at work delivers many benefits, both physically and mentally.

“Even taking a ten minute brisk walk at lunchtime will help. A healthy workforce is a happy workforce – an invaluable asset to have.”

Hubert Da Costa, VP for EMEA at Cradlepoint

“The old saying that ‘our people are our most important asset’ is completely true. So as a business leader, one of the key things you need to do is support your team in all aspects of working life – not just in terms of hitting results.

“Helping your team grow professionally should be a given. But during On Your Feet Day, we should all be reminded to encourage our team to stay active, even if it’s simply a short walk to the kettle.”

“Looking after employee wellbeing, and ensuring workers are not dangerously sedentary, should be a priority for UK businesses. By looking after your employees, not only will you improve their health, but you will likely see a return on your investment in the form of increased productivity, better employee retention and an all-round happier workforce. Why wait? Get moving!”