F1 health programme brings high performance benefits

 For Formula One drivers, health is a matter of life or death. Ross
Wigham visits the British Grand Prix to see what other organisations can learn
from Formula One’s staff health programme.

 A car
from the Renault team flashes down the home straight in qualifying

Driving around a track at
speeds of up to 180 miles per hour is very big and very clever. Formula One
(F1) drivers are the best of the best in motor sport, capable of achieving
ultimate performance from multi-million pound, ultra-tuned speed machines at a
pace which is unimaginable to most of us.

Jordan pit crew make some final adjustments to the race car

This kind of work requires
total concentration and focus both from the drivers and from the support team
of engineers, mechanics, managers and pit crew.

brother is watching: Members of the Jordan team monitor every aspect of the
car’s and drivers performance

This need was highlighted
during last week’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone at which a spectator ran
into the path of on-coming cars at a part of the track where drivers normally
reach top speed.

Jordan team prepare one of the F1 cars for final qualifying

Human performance system

The skill and awareness of the
F1 teams which prevented a tragedy owed more to training and preparation than
to luck. The Jordan Grand Prix team, which has been on the circuit since 1991, has
a specially designed human performance system to ensure all its employees are
functioning at their very best.

ambition: the Vielife scheme has helped the whole team work more efficiently

The team joined up with health
management company Vielife last year to implement a system that would monitor
and improve the overall well-being of staff and fine-tune their performance.

Company boss Eddie Jordan was
concerned that the competitive nature of racing coupled with high stress levels
and short recovery time from global travel was placing excessive stress on the

At the start of the 2002 season
Vielife introduced an ongoing programme to monitor and improve the health of
the drivers, race crew, factory personnel and senior management.

Holistic approach to

The system was designed to
optimise staff performance and give managers a tool that would enable them to
focus resources on the most needed areas. It takes an holistic approach to the
well-being of the 250 Jordan staff concentrating on the four key areas:
● sleep
● fitness
● nutrition
● stress

Around 80 per cent of all staff
at the company joined the programme which starts with an individual online
survey which assesses potential problems in each of the four areas.

driver Ralph Firman looks on as team mate Giancarlo Fisichella gets ready to
blast off into his qualifying lap

The team’s key personnel –
drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralph Firman, the race crew and the senior
managers – all receive one-on-one assessments and bespoke systems based on
their goals and lifestyle.

The HR department at Jordan has
also given all employees access to Vielife online and agreed a series of
workshops to address any areas where improved health could impact the business.

Reduction in injuries

The programme has improved the
teams performance by reducing physical and mental fatigue and driving down the
time drivers spend in rehabilitation. The race-day team has also reported a
reduction in the number of injuries and a general increase of energy and

Ian Phillips, commercial
director at Jordan, said the system has also improved the business performance
of employees not involved in the physical side of racing.

“The system has empowered me to
make significant lifestyle changes that have had a real impact on my business
approach, especially during the critical commercial period of the F1 season,”
he says.

Staff turnover halved

Blue chip companies are now
recognising the benefit of having a healthy workforce and are using the
technology developed in F1 to monitor and improve staff well-being.

Standard Life Healthcare has
also used the programme and succeeded in cutting staff turnover from 12 per
cent to six per cent. 77 per cent of the 750 employees at the company said the
initiative had helped change their attitude to work life balance.

With new stress regulations set
to be introduced by the Health and Safety Executive and increasing emphasis on
addressing sickness absence other firms are sure to follow suit.

the current world champions and eventual winners at Silverstone, set up one of
the famous red F1 cars

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