17 May 2013

Walk your way to happier staff

One way to make your staff happier could be to encourage them to walk to the workplace, research has suggested.

Today is the final day of Walk to Work Week, an initiative organised by the national charity Living Streets, to encourage more people to travel to work on foot to improve their health, help the environment, save money and reduce congestion. During last year’s Walk to Work Week workers logged 25,336 walks, totalling more than 71,255 miles on the Living Streets website, which encourages people to record their walking efforts.

As part of the event, the charity commissioned a survey by YouGov, which showed walkers are happier than those who commute by car or using public transport. The poll found 88% of people who usually walk most of the route to work felt their journey made them happy, more than those who travelled by other methods.

Boost team morale

Not all employees will be able to walk to work, but companies can do their bit to encourage staff to get out and about in the fresh air by organising walking meetings.  These can help to boost staff morale and staff productivity, while reducing stress levels.

Walking with your colleagues can help foster a positive team spirit as well as helping keep employees fit and healthy, making them less likely to miss work due to sickness. It can also help clear people’s heads, which could make staff more likely to come up with innovative new ideas for the business. Walking is also good for boosting energy levels, so could help avoid the post-lunch slowdown which often occurs in offices, when employees start to feel tired and sluggish in the afternoon.

Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Living Streets, said: “It’s fantastic news that walkers are amongst the happiest of commuters, with 88% of those walkers who commute 10 miles or less rating top of the happy poll. Here at Living Streets, we help employers improve the health and productivity of their workforce by helping them create travel plans and encourage their staff to get more active.

“Walking can help to reduce stress, aid motivation and improve the general health and wellbeing of employees.”

Create healthy competition

Living Streets encourages workplaces to record the number of miles walked by staff using its online walking calculator and perhaps create a bit of healthy competition by setting up teams. Other ideas include setting challenges, which could include sponsored walks to raise money for charity.

As well as helping staff stay healthy and motivated, walking initiatives can also form part of a company’s sustainability policy as it helps demonstrate their commitment to the environment.