Why fun and fit workplaces matter
FUN workplace health and fitness programs not only improve staff wellbeing but boost company culture and attract new talent.
SEEK research revealed more than a quarter of Australian workers (26.8 per cent) considered a positive culture important when choosing their next job and employer.
This was particularly important among entry-level and graduate jobseekers (32.6 per cent).
Another 13.2 per cent of Australians placed importance on having a fun culture, and 5.1 considered a strong social program - including sport teams and staff parties - to be a "must".
Australian Outdoor Living this year undertook a 12-Week Step Challenge in which 25 employees at the home improvement retailer's head office committed to walking 10,000 steps a day for about three months.
Chief executive Chris Taylor said it promoted health and fitness among workers and created a sense of community and camaraderie within the team.
"We encouraged employees to exercise during the day by walking in groups around the neighbourhood during their lunch break, rather than spending all day at their desk," he said.
"We offered incentives such as vouchers for healthy foods to encourage employees to get active and as a reward for their efforts. It was extremely successful.
"During the 12-week step challenge, employees walked more than a combined 20 million steps or nearly 16,000 kilometres.
"This is the equivalent of more than one lap around Australia or from Adelaide to London."
Mr Taylor said employees involved in the challenge ranged from entry-level workers through to senior executives and upper management employees, ensuring the benefits were company wide.
"It was important that our senior executives led by example," he said.
"The challenge wasn't compulsory but when employees saw their managers and the company's executives participating, they were more inclined to engage with the initiative too.
"Managers 'practise what they preach' at Australian Outdoor Living, which has helped establish a positive company-wide culture.
"It created a sense of community and camaraderie within the office and gave employees another reason to be excited about coming to work.
"Happy, healthy employees generally perform better than those who are tired, struggling for concentration or feeling disengaged."
Food, health and nutrition researcher Dr Vincent Candrawinata encouraged workers to consider their health and fitness habits while at work.
He said it was easy to gain weight, and workplace stress, a lack of physical activity in office roles, free cakes and chocolate for colleagues' birthdays, business lunches and long commutes all played a part.
"Every little thing counts (whether that is) taking the stairs instead of the lift, waking up half an hour earlier to do a quick work out, skipping a happy hour drink after work and (doing) a meal prep instead," he said.
Dr Candrawinata recommended packing lunches for work rather than eating takeaway foods, swapping coffee for water, and focusing on time management to reduce stress.