Do sport at work! Physical activity makes companies more competitive

Cristian González

2 October, 2013

In the Luxembourg declaration of the 1997, the European Commission established that the future of companies depended greatly on the fact that their workers were well prepared, motivated and enjoyed good health. The promotion of health in the workplace (PST) was established as fundamental, and physical activity played a fundamental role.

Fifteen years after that declaration, the promotion of health at work (PST) has been shown to be a very effective policy in reducing work-related illnesses, accidents, injuries, illnesses and stress. In addition, the individual capacity of the working population increases when it comes to maintaining good health and quality of life.
Applying a PST policy to the company implies managing the health of workers from a comprehensive and integrated health vision that goes beyond eliminating or minimizing the risk factors of labor origin. It is necessary to take care of the physical, mental and social spheres. It consists in integrating health in the strategy of companies to act in a balanced way on the person, the environment and the organization from a multisectoral and participatory action.
The role of institutions
The European Network for the Promotion of Health at Work (ENWHP) was created with the aim of promoting PST initiatives in European companies. It is a network of health and safety at work institutes and public health institutions committed to the development and promotion of good practices in the management of health at work that, at the same time, contributes to economic development and social in Europe. As relevant tasks, the ENWHP aims to introduce the PST on the agendas of the countries of the old continent, identify and disseminate models of good practices, make tools, recommendations and arguments available to companies to implement effective PST actions and Also promote training and research in this field.
In Spain, we find the National Institute for Safety and Hygiene in the Workplace (INSHT). This agency has made available to everyone a PST website where companies and other stakeholders can find resources and models of good practices to initiate PST interventions. He also devotes an important part of his resources to translate the most relevant documents produced by the ENWHP and to organize courses and conferences. «The main objectives are to recognize the work of companies, promote health culture, exchange experiences, advise and support companies in this field», explains Dolors Solé, head of the Occupational Medicine Unit of the National Center for Working Conditions of the INSHT.
The long-term goals of this body are to improve the quality and effectiveness of the planning and development of PST interventions at the state level. Another goal that you want to achieve is to increase the number of workers exposed to PST initiatives. On the other hand, Solé reports that "medium and short term goals are to encourage networking and the exchange of ideas and experiences, improve the understanding of the PST concept and the knowledge, skills and confidence of the main actors in the execution of actions ».
Another public body involved in the field of physical activity in the company is the Higher Sports Council. «We collaborate with the Ministry of Enterprise and Social Security, with the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality and also with different agents of the labor field, such as mutual societies and companies, and with other entities in the field of research and universities, "explains José Luis Terreros Blanco, deputy director general of Sport and Health of the CSD. The promotion of PST initiatives from the CSD is included in the A + D Plan, which aims to promote physical activity and sport among the population. Of the fifteen action programs contained in this program, there is one, the fifth, which focuses on physical activity and sport in the workplace. "The A + D Plan is primarily aimed at policy makers and creators, not only sports but also in many fields, to guide and inspire the implementation of concrete PST measures," Terreros concludes.
Benefits
Improving strength or flexibility, changing moods and health habits, combined with weight loss when integrating other health programs can be the solution to improving productivity. Workers do more to improve their health and mood because they will be more satisfied in their workplace. Work injuries or absenteeism may also be reduced, as the risk of not transmissible diseases such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, etc. decreases. Therefore, the risk of economic losses caused by job losses or absenteeism is diminished. Many studies show that the direct cost of an illness is less than its direct cost.
For these reasons, the impact of the introduction of programs of specific physical exercise in the workplace not only improves the welfare of the person at work but also increases the health of the population, the competitiveness and productivity of the 'company and, consequently, the health cost of the country. For example, the cost of occupational accidents and occupational diseases oscillates between the 2,6% and 3,8% of the gross national product in the European Union.
Another positive impact of the promotion of physical exercise in the workplace is in the social field of the company, since it contributes to quality management, improves decision-making, performance and commitment. There is an increase in the feeling of belonging to the company and improve interpersonal relationships. Physical activity increases effectiveness and stimulates creativity. In this sense, the workers that do sport feel eight times more committed to their company and are 3,5 times more creative and innovative when the welfare is a priority for the corporation for which they work.
In the field of corporate image, the implementation of PST initiatives improves the prestige and institutional and internal image of the company as regards corporate social responsibility (CSR) and becomes an element of attraction and retention of talent "In times of crisis like the present, the retention of skilled workers, the decline of absenteeism and the increase in productivity are key elements for the survival of companies," says Dolors Solé.
The figures
In recent years, an exhaustive study has been carried out at European level to quantify the benefits of PST policies. The results are strong, since the companies that have invested in the health of their workers have represented them a benefit of 554,97 euros per person per year. On the other hand, there are studies that show that sedentary workers present 18% more work absenteeism than active workers. In this sense, physical activity programs at work can reduce the duration of mild illnesses between 6% and 32%.
Another quantified area focuses on the reduction of healthcare spending. Therefore, a moderate physical exercise program done on a regular basis can reduce the cost of medical care between 20% and 55%. In addition, there is a reduction in work accidents, and we can not forget that between the 3% and the 10% of the turnover of companies is lost due to the economic consequences of an unsafe work environment and unhealthy Therefore, having little control over the work done is closely related to accidental risks.
On the other hand, the studies also warn that having the muscles prepared to carry out work actions reduces possible injuries. "The new vision is that not only does the workplace be adapted to the individual, but also that the individual must adapt to the characteristics of their place and type of work," explains Estel Mallorquí, director of Biwel Salud Empresarial.
Healthy Business Program
The Claror Foundation, an entity whose mission is to promote sport for all, has the Healthy Business Program, which aims to help increase the productivity of companies through the improvement of health, wellbeing and the quality of life of its workers. The program includes specific solutions for each company and other groups with special conditions. On the one hand, workers will receive an initial test to obtain a diagnosis, personalized advice, a medical visit to detect risk factors, a personalized training program and a "retest" every three months to track them. In addition, you can also take part in the Activa't Program, offered by the centers managed by the Claror Foundation (more information about this program, on the 8 pages in 11).
The Claror Foundation aims to be the main ally of companies when it comes to bringing energy, health and well-being to the workforce. In addition to discounts, it offers a corporate welfare program that includes specific services and activities. In this sense, companies that join the Empresa + Feliz program will benefit from an annual diagnosis made in situ to the company. In addition, training sessions will be offered to achieve healthy lifestyle habits. The professionals of the Claror Foundation will also offer exclusive classes for the groups of workers that have contracted the quota and also make customized programs of work gym.
The Claror Foundation also offers sports centers that manage help to prepare all types of sports events for companies. "We can do from a paddle competition to a team building on the beach, a spinning masterclass or a relaxing thalassotherapy circuit. We put everything at your disposal to make it an unforgettable event: experienced instructors, activity halls, facilities, audiovisual equipment, catering services and hostesses. You just need to contact our Department of Fitness Events and together we will do it, "explains Cristina Rueff, Head of Personal Care and Sales of the Claror Foundation.

the author

Cristian González

Graduate in Journalism (UPF), Graduate in Contemporary History (UB), Master in Business Communication Specialization in Digital Technologies (UPF).

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