02 July 2018

July sporting events provide perfect opportunity to engage staff in health and wellbeing

For fans of sport, it’s going to be an exciting July as major events including Wimbledon, the World Cup and Tour de France kick off or draw to a close. This is a great time for businesses to capitalise on this sporting fever and engage employees in health and wellbeing, says The Health Insurance Group.

Supporting mental health
According to the Department of Health, being physically active can reduce someone’s risk of depression by up to 30%*. With mental health being such a key issue, and with personal, candid accounts from high-profile sportspeople such as footballer Danny Rose and just recently from jockey and former track cyclist Victoria Pendleton, employers can play a crucial role in improving the mental wellbeing of their staff by helping them to get active.

This can be as simple as encouraging lunch-time walks, or organising after-work yoga classes. Exercise not only gets endorphins pumping around the body, it can also be great for team building.

Trying something new
The charity Mind points out how spending time with positive people can be a great boost to self-esteem**. So now can be a good time to encourage colleagues to join together in sport.

Ever noticed how tennis courts are suddenly at capacity when Wimbledon is on? Employers can take advantage of this renewed interest in major sporting events, by organising different activities for employees to try. A regular gym attendee may give tennis a go if their colleagues are all heading to the court, for example. Badminton clubs can be a great way to keep activity going during autumn when the nights start drawing in.

It’s also a chance to promote any health and wellbeing benefits the company offers that promote physical activity such as discounted gym memberships, cycle-to-work schemes or fitness apps.

Communication
This is also a great time to communicate wider benefits of health and wellbeing programmes that are offered. For example, health and wellbeing initiatives aren’t just about speedy operations, but might also include access to health assessments and screening.

Health checks are particularly important, as they can highlight issues early – enabling them to be tackled, before they become more serious.  Indeed, Cancer Research UK*** promotes how early diagnosis can improve survival. With more than 9 in 10 bowel cancer patients surviving for more than 5 years if diagnosed at the earliest stage; and more than 90% of women diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage surviving for at least 5 years compared to around 15% for women diagnosed with the most advanced stage of the disease.

Value
Sporting events also provide an opportunity to promote healthy lifestyle choices without having to cost the company extra money. This can include the importance of eating well, drinking responsibly and the benefits of a good night’s sleep, so can be a great way to engage a workforce.

Brett Hill, Managing Director, The Health Insurance Group said: “Whether an aspiring Messi or Murray, Watson or Williams, July poses an excellent way for employers to capitalise on world-class sporting events and get their workforce engaged in health and wellbeing.

“Even for those not usually interested in sports, making a games console with sports-themed games that require physical activity available for use in the canteen during a lunch break can be great for mental and physical wellbeing. It also provides an avenue for organisations to communicate other health and wellbeing benefits to employees, to really promote their value. A lot of companies ask us how they can improve employee engagement, and summer sports can provide a great opportunity.”

* https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/

**https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem

***http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-symptoms/why-is-early-diagnosis-important