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Spotlight on ... The Cost of Inactivity

February 2, 2022


Getting active at work

Over the past few years, organisations have finally begun recognising the importance of maintaining positive mental health.  No longer commonly treated as taboo, mental health has begun to be recognised as just as key as physical health.

However, there is a school of thought that this has inadvertently caused a drop in emphasis on physical health.  UK Active describes the recent drop in activity levels as 'alarming'.  We at Cream HR were pretty shocked to read that office workers
spending eight hours a day sat at a desk are up to 60% more likely to die early from diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

This spotlight looks at what is driving this problem and how employers can make a positive on activity in the workplace.


Working From Home

What could be driving the drop in activity levels?

  • More people are working in office roles compared to previous years
  • Lockdowns have led to a number of lifestyle changes that mean people no longer commute and tend not to visit the gym on their way to or from work
  • With people moving out of cities more people drive to their destination rather than walk or use public transport

According to UK Active workers spend on average half their day sitting at a desk.  They also report that inactivity causes 37,000 premature deaths a year and cost the UK £20billion a year.

And what impact does this have on businesses?

In 2016/17, 1.3 million workers suffered from work-related ill-health, which equated to 25.7 million working days lost. This has been estimated to cost £522 per employee, and up to £32 billion per year for UK business.

So what can your organisation do about it?

  • Offer employees discounted gym membership (either via corporate gym memberships that employees pay themselves with a discount code, by setting up a salary sacrifice scheme for gym memberships or even subsidising or paying for memberships for your staff).
  • Provide standing desks or even gym equipment to change the way your teams work.
  • Move equipment around in the office to encourage more walking for example move the printer further away!
  • Take the stairs.
  • Set up a Cycle To Work scheme.
  • Encourage employees to set up their own clubs for example a walking club at lunch.
  • Offer longer lunch breaks to employees who want to do some exercise.
  • Invite a local gym to run sessions at your premises or even online for your remote colleagues.

Most Importantly - Do Something

Rather than worrying too much about what will and won't work, it's better to just get started.  Talk to your teams about the risks of inactivity and ask them what they would like to do.  Run competitions, share activity on social media and create a buzz around what you're doing.

And let us at Cream HR know and we'd be love to share your updates.


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