01 March 2016

Flexible lunch breaks could boost activity

Flexible lunch breaks could boost activity

The UK’s culture of not taking a lunch break is damaging the nation’s health according to a manifesto released by the County Sports Partnership Network informed by latest research from the BHFNC.

The manifesto champions the lunch break as a key opportunity for employees to get active. Our research found that employees cited time as the biggest barrier to exercise and commonly said that a working day and a commute left them feeling tired and little time to exercise in the evening. To overcome this, the manifesto calls all employers to consider flexible working hours, eg, allowing staff to arrive earlier or leave later in exchange for a longer lunch break giving staff the opportunity to lace up and get active at lunch time.

The BHFNC’s research found that those who adopted a more active lifestyle reduced their number of sick days by 0.6 days per year in addition to a reduction in ‘presenteeism’ (being at work when sick) by between 1.4-1.7 days. As a result, employees brought less infection to work resulting in an increase in productivity for themselves and across the whole business.

Acting upon this research the new manifesto sets out ten calls for employers small and large to enable employees to get active:

  1. Seriously examine the real bottom line benefits to be gained from encouraging an active workforce
  2. Ensure management and board reporting includes employee wellbeing and activity measures
  3. 3. Recruit and support workplace physical activity champions to harness the power of peer influence
  4. Ask employees what would encourage them to be active
  5. Encourage employees to be active in and around the working day including active travel
  6. Challenge the ‘having to be at your desk’ culture that prevents people taking an active lunch break
  7. Encourage employees to ‘move and work’ such as walking meetings and standing telephone calls to challenge the growing prevalence of sedentary working days
  8. Make use of expert advice to create an active workforce such as support available from local County Sports Partnerships
  9. Allow employees time off to volunteer in grassroots sport as part of staff development and Corporate Social Responsibility strategy
  10. Introduce activity initiatives such as Workplace Challenge.

The BHFNC evaluated the Workplace Challenge programme – a free online tool used by over 45,000 workers to log their activity for a period of two years (October 2013 to October 2015). The evaluation monitored people who engaged in the programme at three monthly intervals. The summary evaluation report can be downloaded here.

DOWNLOAD: How much could tackling poor health save your business? Our flexible lunch break manifesto