On February 21st at The Epic Centre, Lincoln Showground, fifteen “Champions” attended a workshop with the sole purpose of supporting and creating an environment at work which promotes being active.
Active Lincolnshire hosted the pilot training workshop, which delivered a strategy of change for each Workplace Champion to take back to his or her workplace to begin to implement.
The underlying belief of creating Workplace Champions is that “the most successful agents of change will be people from the communities themselves”, in this instance the community is our working age population who sometimes lack the motivation or desire to cultivate an active lifestyle in an inactive environment.
Current statistics warn that in Lincolnshire there is an inactive population, inactive being less than 30 mins of activity per week, of 136,000 and a further 77,000 people who aren’t meeting the recommended level of weekly activity. Meaning these Champions come at a pivotal time of need.
With an estimated 10.5 million working days lost to health problems that can be connected to inactivity, the cost of inactivity to the health sector sitting at £15million per year and an environment that encourages (through technology, transport and time-savers like “drive-throughs”) a sedentary lifestyle, populating our workforce with Champions who provide support and initiatives could be the break through businesses need to revitalise and care for their workforce.
The workshop gave Champions the tools to create activities in the workplace and to re-deliver the workshop to their colleagues, teams and managers. The Champions built on their knowledge of physical activity; the impact, guidelines and benefits to themselves and their workplace. Overcoming perceived barriers and motivational techniques were investigated and finessed. The Workshop presenters, Jo Metcalfe and Carol Kay Fulton were enthusiastic and engaging as they worked with the Champions to develop the confidence to return to work and support their peers to be more physically active. Champions relayed the objections and difficulties they have come up against so far, as they challenge workplace norms and attempt to implement new actions to improve workplace activities.
Embedding activity into the workplace has the potential to create a healthier, happier, more dynamic and less ill workforce. The benefits speak for themselves, and those that put themselves into the role of Champion, who risk being mocked for their enthusiasm or have their suggestions and innovative ideas disregarded, are the instigators of change. Workshop attendee Alexis Powell-Howard from Fortis Therapy & Training found the day “really helpful in exploring the barriers for people accessing physical activity and thinking about motivation and what we can do to support people”.
Lincolnshire needs to provide a better workplace for those at work now and those entering the workplace in the next few years. These workshops are invaluable for the knowledge, guidance and support they provide to Workplace Champions like Emma Nash from Lincolnshire Police, who shared her views of the workshop: “I’ve really enjoyed today, I found it really, really interesting, it’s nice to meet other people and get new ideas that I can take back to try and implement in our own force, and hopefully we will be able to push forward with the mentor idea and get people more physically active at work.”
Workshop’s like these are essential to building a culture of activity that is grown from within the workforce. Once in place these Champions will enable organic growth of a healthy active workplace that will improve organisational wellbeing and provide support and motivation to those who need it most. Vincent Gibson, from Public Health Lincoln, summed it up nicely “I think this training is very useful for people in the workplace because we have to take responsibility for our own health and for helping other people to see how easy it can be. Which might help them to gain better health for a longer life and they can pass these messages on to their families and we can all benefit from that.”