How can you build a fitter and healthier workforce?

How can you build a fitter and healthier workforce?

It is a fact that all businesses need to have a fit and healthy workforce if they are to function efficiently. Firms with strategic health and wellbeing policies report lower sickness levels, better staff retention, and improved morale. So how can you introduce a cohesive healthy workplace policy across your organisation with minimal effort but maximum impact?

Health expert Sam Cleaver, Director of Ipswich-based Stoic Performance shares his thoughts….

“Corporate health and wellbeing policies aren’t just there to tick a box, they actually make a real difference to the effectiveness of your business. Statistics show that in 2017, up to 34.3 million days of productivity were lost due to staff sickness and absences. That is a huge amount and clearly demonstrates why it’s so important to tackle this issue head-on.”

Sam continues: “For too long it’s been easy for employers to sit back and say that they don’t need to implement any healthy work-based policies or believe that it takes too much investment. But that’s not true anymore. As the workplace changes, it’s becoming increasingly important for employers to act. Having a cohesive strategy can be much simpler than you may think, and it doesn’t need to encroach on a working day. Making small changes can drastically improve the health and wellbeing of your workforce.”

Sam works closely with organisations throughout the area to help introduce healthy workplace strategies and has shared his top three tips for success.

Invest in corporate gym memberships

Whilst this may sound like an expensive investment, offering corporate gym memberships can provide tangible results for firms needing to have solid ROIs. Offering employee perks is not only a sure-fire way to improve your recruitment and retention policies, but you can track how many staff members are actively benefiting from such a scheme.

Sam offers corporate membership deals to his popular ParaFit Bootcamp, a twice-weekly military-style fitness class. He believes that the true value in group exercise classes isn’t just in the individual fitness levels, but it’s about working together as a team, and learning how to inspire and motivate others.

He says: “Our classes are designed to be as fun as possible, and most of the exercises are based around group participation. We see people meet each other for the first time, and straight away they are working closely together and encouraging each other to be the best that they can be. Not only are these valuable skills which can be taken back to the office, but it’s a fact that those who undertake regular exercise are much less likely to call in sick.”

“Corporate membership to join our ParaFit boot camps start at just £20 per month, making it easily affordable to even the smallest of businesses.”

Ensure staff benefit from a positive work-life balance

Much has been written about staff burnout, and those working in high-pressure environments are much more likely to be affected by work-related stress. It is therefore imperative that if firms wish to keep their staff happy and motivated, those positive working environments are encouraged.

Recently, Sam has been researching the effects of stress upon the nervous system. He has noticed that those who are able to relax are far better equipped to live a healthier life than those who suffer from extreme stress.

He says: “There are many different facets to the nervous system, but in this context, we have the sympathetic side and the para-sympathetic side. Our sympathetic side is our ‘flight or fight’ response mode which is all based upon survival. If this side of our nervous system takes control, it explains why we may feel bloated or have digestive issues when we’re stressed.”

“In contrast, the para-sympathetic mode is the rest and digest side of the nervous system. It controls our stress levels, our sleep patterns, and our digestion. In an ideal world, we need to ensure that our nervous system spends up to 85% of our time in this mode. If we manage this, we can effectively use energy and have a healthier lifestyle.”

He adds: “From a business perspective, it demonstrates why offering a positive work-life balance is so important. If we are continually stressed as a result of lengthy commutes, difficult job tasks or other work-related issues, then it stands to reason that we’ll spend too much of our time in the sympathetic state. This could lead to some significant health issues.”

There are many easy ways to encourage a positive work-life balance. Simply reminding staff that they should only be working during their contracted hours, or to encourage staff to take a full lunch break could be enough to help them relax and unwind. The result? Firms should see happier and more motivated employees.

Pay attention to office eating habits.

Many offices have vending machines or canteens which are full of sugary or fatty foods. When you’re working hard, it can be tempting to nip out to your nearest Costa and grab a muffin or a large coffee to pick you up. But this isn’t necessarily the best thing for your health.

Not only is it bad for your purse, but the unexpected calorie intake could be significantly harming your waistline. To help people understand how to make healthier choices, Sam has developed a ‘Costa Survival Guide’ which offers clear, color-coded references to help them understand how they can choose healthier snacks.

Sam says: “It’s incredibly easy to pop into your nearest Costa to buy your lunch, but you may be unaware of the calorie consumption involved. An average muffin at Costa comes in at almost 500 calories. Added to a sandwich which could be between 300-400 calories and a latte or cappuccino which ranges between 200-300 calories. This could mean that you’ve suddenly consumed over 1,000 calories just on your lunch.”

Thinking ahead and bringing in lunch from home can also cause many challenges. After all, we’ve all worked with that one colleague who insists on using the communal microwave to heat up smelly left overs! But eating a solid breakfast or preparing your lunch can make you feel much better and ready to tackle the day ahead.

To help people make the best food choices possible, Sam has written an exclusive “Stoic Recipe Book” which is packed full of tasty menu suggestions. Each recipe has been designed to be packed full of protein and carbohydrates to keep you full and give you enough energy to last the day, limiting the need to snack. What’s more, each recipe comes complete with its own barcode which links in with the popular calorie counting app, MyFitnessPal.

Sam adds: “Eating healthily should never be boring. These recipes are not just tasty, but they are quick and easy to make the night before, and all the ingredients can be bought from your nearest Aldi store as well.”

To download your copy of the Stoic Recipe Book, or to request a copy of the ‘Costa Survival Guide’, simply visit

If you would like to speak directly with Sam about how he can work with you to advise on your healthy workplace strategy then please email or phone 07972 130768. As well as offering corporate memberships to his Parafit boot camps, Sam can also offer workplace seminars, ideal to educate your employees on how to live healthily.

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