Investing in corporate fitness good for business
5 March 2001
Investing in corporate fitness - it’s good for business
The salary, the car and the credit card: add in the fitness and health incentives and you’re looking at the standard executive package of the future.
"Physical activity could be one of the smartest executive investments a company could make in terms of improved productivity, leadership effectiveness and quality of life," says Dr Sven Hansen of Auckland’s E-Health, which provides corporate wellness plans and executive health assessments.
"Corporate fitness has been shown, along with good nutrition and stress management, to deliver a financial return of between $3 and $20 for each $1 invested," he says. "These returns come from improved morale, confidence, loyalty and productivity as well as health savings."
John Quirk, CEO of Mi Services Group - the company which has picked up the sponsorship of the popular Mi Services Group Corporate Team Triathlon (formerly the Fay Richwite) is a firm believer in corporate fitness.
"To stay ahead of the pack in business it all comes down to an ability to deliver consistent, repeatable and sustainable high performance. This philosophy is a fundamental goal of most fitness training programmes and certainly one we would encourage at Mi Services Group.
"As the leader of a team I’m mindful of the consequences of ‘executive’ diseases. It’s better to prevent illness and injuries; not only because of the pain and suffering, but also because of the damage it can do to a business. The cost of prevention is a good investment in the bottom line."
Leading sports physiologist Jon Ackland of North Shore City’s Performance Lab agrees, adding that aside from the physical benefits, a 27 per cent increase in fitness causes a nine per cent increase in cognitive function.
"We often see sedentary corporate people who think doing an event like the Mi Corporate Triathlon is bigger than Ben Hur but then they have a crack and see how it turns out. In 99.9 per cent of cases they will complete it and be really amazed at what they’ve achieved. That means they discover more about their potential in exercise and that makes them wonder what they can achieve in other aspects of their life. If you had a situation where a whole company was thinking like that, imagine what the potential would be."
And you don’t have to turn into a training junkie to realise the potential. Ackland points out that for an event like the Mi Corporate Tri (a 500m swim, 15km cycle and 5km run) the weekly training needs to be a maximum of 1.5 hours swimming, up to 3.5 hours cycling and 1.5 hours running. "That’s three bikes, three swims, three runs and you could cut it down to two. There’s no point in overdoing it."
Consider the physical benefits in return: reduced chances of dying from a heart attack or cancer, smaller chance of developing depression, improved mood, increased muscle mass and bone density, stronger ligaments, lower cholesterol rates…the list goes on.
"People say to me: ‘Why in heaven’s name would people exercise," says Ackland. "Knowing all these facts I would say: ‘Why in heaven’s name wouldn’t you?"
Carter Holt Harvey, which has entered several teams in the Mi Corporate Tri, is reaping the benefits of investing in staff fitness and health programmes through events and training packages in conjunction with Performance Lab and the Auckland half-marathon. The programmes have become so popular, they are now proving an excellent recruitment tool.
"Programmes like these are going to encourage employees of the future much more than trying to give people percentage increases in salary," says Linda Sewell, general manager finance and strategy for Carter Holt Harvey. "You can give people salaries, cars and health insurance but the day they start work people take these as a given and soon become used to the benefits. Whereas a health and fitness programme has an impact on their life every day and is much more visible. We’ve seen increased feelings of motivation, a more positive feeling of being part of the company, higher energy levels at work and better communication within the company."
The Mi Corporate Tri, previously called the Fay Richwite Corporate Triathlon, is now in its 16th year. This is the first year this national event has been sponsored by Mi Services Group. Races are to be held in Christchurch and Wellington in February, Auckland in March and Hamilton in April. Full race details can be found on www.MiCorporateTri.co.nz
Issued for Mi Services Group by Pead PR
Chief Executive Officer
Mi Services Group
Tel: 0-9-358 4114
Tel: 0–9 - 533 7342
Mob: 021 612 919