I have seen many CV’s since I started at Covalience and invariably there is some reference to hobbies or sports activities. During the interview, I ask about it and have come to the conclusion that most company employees in Chandigarh have given up on trying to be fit. They are too busy now to exercise, they say. Does this lack of fitness influence their work and in which way?
This morning one of our .net developers came to run with our group for the first time in months. We had a hard workout with small-hill repeats for half an hour.
Later at the office, he mentioned to me how much energy he has and how good he feels. Even though one session of exercise could not have improved his overall fitness much, these are some immediate effects.
In one study, the absenteeism data of 884 subjects working in banking, the police force and a chemical company was collected before and after introducing some fitness program. Those who participated to a high degree in the exercise showed a reduction of 4.8 days in sick days.
I want to argue that it makes sense for employers to encourage fitness with their employees and, if possible, facilitate it. Some of the benefits have already been mentioned, but here are a few that I feel are important in our type of high-stress industry (Software services):
- Employees will have less sick days. Exercise improves the immune system. It is also proven that exercise reduces the risk of hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Employees will have more energy. This is contrary to popular belief, but exercise releases endorphins (which gives you the runner’s high) and improves circulation which translates into that burst of energy you need.
- Employees experience various psychological benefits. They will have less stress which helps with handling that problematic client or that piece of code from hell. It improves their self-esteem. It mostly helps to build a friend-circle outside work which contributes to living a balanced life. And of course, happier employees causes a lower turnover rate which causes more stability for our clients.
- Exercise teaches lots of things. Perseverance, self-control, pushing your limits, overcoming obstacles.
A few years ago we started a running club for office employees (others are also welcome). We run three times a week early in the morning. I believe we will see the difference that it makes. Companies can negotiate gym membership at reduced rates for their employees. There could be soccer teams or cycle-to-work clubs. Let me know what your company is doing to encourage fitness with their employees.