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Can sport help create a more active and productive workforce?

Nelson Mandela once said that “sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”

The power of sport is widely recognised and there is also strong evidence that an active workforce is a more productive workforce. For companies to promote sport to their workforces can be good for their health and good for the business.

For example, studies show that more active workforces have reduced absenteeism (by circa 20% — saving £2.8 billion per annum in sickness absence), improved mental health and wellbeing and increased participation in sport by both inactive and active people.

So what can businesses do to encourage a more active workforce using the power of sport?

Employers don’t have to be experts – partnerships can help make participation in sport fun and easy to organise.

Goals nightscene (002)The Football Association and Goals Soccer Centres have created a partnership to reach out to employers offering a range of 5-a-side football events across the UK wide network of 46 Goals Soccer Centres.

McDonalds have been running such an event with us for over 10 years across the network of 1,250 restaurants in the UK. In 2015 Goals hosted 16 regional heats with 720 teams and over 5,500 employees taking part from all corners of the UK with the winners then going to a grand final to see who would be crowned as the Champions.

We recognise that spot needs to be inclusive, so we offer a wide range of options available designed to appeal to all including men’s, women’s and mixed football and also an option of walking football.

Sport England are another organisation with a national programme – the “Workplace Challenge” – with the County Sports Partnership Network (CSP Network) – designed to inspire workplaces to get their staff more physically active.

The programme encourages employees to log their activities, challenge colleagues and enter competitions. The CSP Network can also offer free workplace consultations and advice for workplaces across their 45 local frontline CSP teams.

KYOCERA Document Solutions in Reading have been involved in the Get Berkshire Active Workplace Challenge since 2015 with 55 staff taking part in national and local activity log challenges.

Tracey Rawling-Church, Head of CSR has encouraged staff to get involved and seen the benefits to the business:

As an office-based business we’re conscious that most of our staff are sedentary; activities like Workplace Challenge provides an engaging way to get employees thinking about their activity levels using a fun approach rather than lecturing. It’s created a good deal of healthy competition among staff, who are all trying to accumulate more points than their colleagues. Many of them have bought fitness trackers and are using these to monitor their activities and one has trained to become a workplace run leader. It has definitely made a positive difference.”


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