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Why some enterprises are fitter than others.

Magazine Contact #17

Workplace health promotion is a complex subject that has become a real factor of success and an important employer branding instrument. In the following interview sports scientist and trainer Michael Mayrhofer told us where the trend is heading, what the weak points are, and how to benefit from it.

Keyword "workplace health promotion" - what path will it take?

This subject is constantly changing. 20 years ago, for example, the main focus was on the prevention of accidents. Later on the key aspect was ergonomics. 10 years ago fitness centres in the company were "hot" - which was of little avail, because the use depends strongly on the internal climate. Today, the issue of "health" is regarded in a much more complex way. The focus is no longer only on physical fitness, but also on mental fitness, and on cooperation and interaction in the company.

 

What does that mean?

Workplace health promotion today means taking this complexity into account. Therefore, there should be offers combining fitness, mental wellness, and team spirit. Just yesterday I did the following programme with the employees of a large commercial enterprise: jogging through the woods in the morning with a running coach, cooking in the team under the direction of a professional chef at noon, and mental training in the afternoon. Of course, such a holistic training approach can be implemented in each and every configuration. What counts is the quality of the offer.

 

Does this means it always has to do with the whole thing?

Exactly! And this whole thing has to be considered from another, absolutely different point of view: Today the focus is not only on single aspects of health, but the whole range of physical, mental, and social aspects, and also on the "health of the enterprise".

 

What about the readiness of enterprises to get involved with this?

While times absent of overstressed employees are a significant cost factor and a loss of motivation of whole departments causes a constant staff fluctuation or mental quitting in companies with traditional concepts, innovative enterprises have long since learned that they have need for action and taken appropriate measures. Apart from the clear internal benefit that healthy, powerful and motivated employees mean to a company, much more is at stake at times like these!

And what would that be?

It's a question of getting a competitive edge in hunting the best heads. Because concerted workplace health promotion is an efficient employer branding instrument! There's no doubt that it inspires the employer brand and polishes the image. In this context it is paramount that the measures are adequately and well communicated - both inward and outward. As far as I can see only very few are doing a good job here.

 

But isn't workplace health promotion also a question of high cost?

Of course, there has to be a certain budget. But as my customer Christoph Bründl, Managing Director of Sport Bründl, puts it: "I'd be a fool if I didn't do it! I've got to offer something to my employees." That's why he regularly invests some money in events and activities for all his 330 employees, who are more than happy to accept the offer.  The good work climate and the figures speak volumes.

 

Some employers say that the offers in question are not always readily accepted.

Yes, we've also seen this problem. It mainly depends on how the proposals and measures are communicated. They have to be understood as an act of esteem. We've also seen cases where the message ran into a completely wrong direction. The employees' response was: "So now, they find enough money for that."

 

How can you explain this phenomenon?

"Health" is a socio-political subject which has still got a lot to do with awareness-raising. In some lines of business and companies a lot of explanatory work is needed. There's still a lot to be done for all of us.

 

 

If you want to jump off immediately in the office with personal health - look here to find three useful exercises presented by Michael Mayrhofer.

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