Mental health at work: Finding moments for movement

Get tips to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing at work without compromising productivity

First published on Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Last updated on Wednesday, May 15, 2024

3 min read

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 13th May to Sunday 19th May) and this year’s theme is moving more for our mental health.

You and your employees live busy lives, so fitting exercise into your daily work routine can be a challenge. Especially if your job is desk-bound or you work in transportation, like lorry driving, where prolonged sitting gets your employees from A to B.

But it’s a challenge worth facing when 56% of UK adults say exercising regularly helps them manage mental health issues like stress and burnout.

As an employer, it’s your duty of care to consider what steps you need to take to improve your employees’ mental health. And if this means encouraging them to move a little more, then here are 3 tips for doing so without halting your productivity.

1. Find moments for movement

It’s this year’s theme and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves, finding moments for movement in the workplace is key.

Encouraging exercise is important not only for your employees’ health, but it turns out it has benefits for your company’s health too. A study by the University of Stirling found that exercise breaks during the workday can boost performance by up to 21%.

And we’re not talking about getting a major sweat on either. When we suggest getting more physical, we mean less 80s jam and more encouragement of consistent, small bursts of physical activity.

For example, taking the stairs if you work in a multi-storey office building can be a small but effective way to get steps in, or encouraging employees to get outdoors during lunch breaks.

But how do you stay hot on employees taking regular breaks to improve their productivity? Well, making sure you have a system in place or work practices that account for employee hours is a great place to start.

Having a clocking-in app allows your staff can keep track of their own breaks and can be a great way to encourage regular breaks and movement away from screens.

2. Host after-work exercise classes

Hosting after-work classes or running exercise sessions at break times can not only help your employees find time to boost their physical and mental health, but it can also be a great team-building initiative.

Turning exercise into a fun and social event is a solid way to communicate the importance of physical activity without being overly preachy.

It can also be a fantastic opportunity to rally your team around charitable causes , whether that’s fun runs or tackling fitness challenges—all in the spirit of giving back!

And the benefits extend beyond improving health and wellbeing at work. Did you know that workplace exercise programmes can improve team time management by as much as 72%?

That means you could actually see a positive reflection in your output and productivity. It’s a win-win!

3. Introduce rewards and recognition

Rewarding employees for taking part in wellness initiatives can be an effective yet subtle way to encourage a healthier attitude towards physical and therefore mental wellbeing.

If you can, offering employees discounted gym memberships can help increase engagement with your company and help when it comes to attracting new talent and boosting retention. Even better if you can offer an on-site fitness facility as companies who do this see a 14% boost in engagement.

Though we understand forking out for top-of-the-range gyms isn’t always feasible. So, finding cost-effective solutions can be a good alternative.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to do this, why not explore [BrightExchange](https://sandbox-www.brighthr.com/bright-exchange-online-marketplace/ 'Discover ), our online marketplace? It’s free for BrightHR customers and has thousands of employee perks to offer your team like health & wellbeing offers, as well as offers for business owners on enterprise gym memberships.

HR challenges for employers when broaching the topic of exercise

When it comes to employee mental health, offering the right support and having the right workplace mental health policy in place is fundamental.

As with any employee issue, but especially with mental and physical health, it’s important to approach conversations with sensitivity.

Creating a culture of inclusion and open communication is crucial. And remember when encouraging staff to add more physical activity into their lives, not everyone is going to be equally receptive.

If in doubt, getting expert support or advice from an [employment law specialist](https://sandbox-www.brighthr.com/brightadvice-employment-law-advice/'Explore our 24 hour HR and legal advice line') can help ease some of your worries when broaching the bigger topics with staff.

Need more mental health support in the workplace?

For personalised wellbeing support that covers both mental and physical wellbeing, check out Bright Wellbeing & Counselling.

Unlock the ultimate way to look after your staff’s mental health this Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond! Discover award-winning employee wellbeing support.


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