Spotlight on: fitness

Obesity, wellbeing and employee assistance programmes (EAPs) are all terms you will be familiar with, but as the mainstream agenda for fighting the fat continues to spread, employers are on the lookout for alternative ways to help overweight staff get a handle on their waistlines.

Engineering company Siemens, a sponsor of GB Rowing, conducted research as part of a campaign to promote fitness.

A poll of 1,087 UK business professionals revealed that half of the respondents rarely took part in any sporting activity or physical exercise, 29% of female executives and 32% of men did no exercise at all, and less than one-third (31%) did the recommended level of three sessions per week.

This comes as no surprise given the fact that by the year 2050, the government’s Foresight Report on Tackling Obesities: Future Choices estimates that 60% of men, 50% of women and about one-quarter of all children under 16 could be obese – worrying statistics, indeed.

So, to create some healthy competition among its employees, Siemens decided to take action by launching a UK company-wide indoor rowing regatta in September as a way of reaching out to all employees to take part in a fitness initiative that would appeal to more employees who do not typically visit the gym.

Teresa Frost, head of talent at Siemens, says: “The idea of a sports sponsorship strategy was to mirror the company’s involvement with GB Rowing. “The regatta was designed to be more inclusive and let employees ‘have a go’ across all business units, to form part of a wider health and wellbeing focus for Siemens.”

Personal invitations

The event was advertised on the intranet, staff were personally invited with a formal invitation, and the regatta was publicised in the canteen, on noticeboards and through internal posters.

The indoor regatta well­being initiative attracted more than 1,000 staff, who took part in at least 10 regional heats around the country, and groups were divided up into nine different categories according to gender, experience and age.

Just under 100 regional finalists then took part in a grand final on 13 October in central London, and participants were invited along with their families to stay in the Hilton, London, for an all-expenses-paid weekend as part of the overall final celebration.

Staff involvement

Frost says: “Some of those employees that didn’t originally sign up are now keen to join up for the next rowing event we are putting on.

“Not only did the final bring together staff from all parts of the business, but the rowing itself is a great stress-buster for those that took part, plus, it’s also now become part of a recruitment tool to help the company’s reputation as an employer of choice to attract engineering graduates.”

Top 5 tips for running a sporting event

  1. Make your sporting initiative accessible for all levels of ability.
  2. Ensure staff gain as much enjoyment from the event as possible.
  3. Build it in as an initiative to form part of your wider corporate social responsibility agenda.
  4. Use it as a networking opportunity for staff to meet others from across different parts of the business.
  5. To help you become an employer of choice, promote your wellbeing initiatives to candidates.

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