Think HBR

Business activity improves bottom line

Chris Hicks
Newcastle University Sport
If recent forecasts of economists are right employees and employers will face significant challenges in the near future.
Inadequate retirement savings adversely affected by the GFC will see mature workers consider if they work past their chosen date of retirement. Given the average Australian will now live well into their 80’s, retirement savings need to cover a significant period in people’s lives. This will only continue to rise as life expectancy is anticipated to be 90 years by 2070.
For employers, the continuing drop in the participation rate of Australians over 15 looking for work may see shortages in many occupations in years to come. At a macro level, fewer people in the workforce equates to lower household income and tax receipts, leading to constrained economic growth. The effect on business may result in staff shortages and an inability to maintain levels of operation or growth.
So on the face of it, a simple solution might be for businesses to encourage older workers to remain in the workforce to cover potential employee shortages. But what happens when employees’ health is declining and they are not able to continue to work indefinitely?
Many of the factors that can limit a person’s ability to continue work can be traced back to society’s sedentary lifestyle. Health issues including high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes can be reduced through the introduction of exercise regimes which are as simple as walking for just 30 minutes a day. With a view to the future, many employers are looking to promote the benefits of exercise to employees and incorporating this philosophy within their workplace.
In the Hunter we know that some innovative businesses have made easy adjustments such as replacing “seated” meetings with walking meetings outside. Many have also introduced gym memberships, social sporting activities and personal or small group training sessions for employees.
Aside from the physical benefits of such a program, a basic exercise regime can also assist in the minimisation of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression as well as provide team bonding opportunities.
There is a range of initiatives that can be accessed to improve the health of your employees and these include general health checks (which test the primary risk factors for heart disease), corporate activity days, corporate gym memberships and wellness seminars.
Getting people physically active can add great value to your business bottom line.
Chris Hicks Chris Hicks

Chris Hicks is the CEO of Newcastle University Sport (NUsport | The Forum). Beyond its two fitness centres at University and Harbourside, The Forum actively promotes the role of sport and recreation in the business and wider community.