A focus on employee physical health, exercise and physical activity is given as much importance as mental health here at shine. Of course the two are intrinsically linked, as many studies, like this one from the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare, show. It can also be easier to get employees on board when it comes to physical health initiatives in the workplace when compared to mental health ones.

Focusing on physical health can often be used in conjunction with mental health programmes, or as great standalone ways to improve the health of staff. There are a growing number of businesses doing great things in this area, here are a few examples:


Form Plus – walking the walk! 

This Cornwall-based print supplier goes above and beyond when it comes to caring for its staff. In 2020, it was the recipient of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Healthy Workplace Award, where it won Gold Status. Its programme is wide ranging, but there’s a huge focus on getting active through walking. 

Form Plus is aware of the detrimental impact of spending many hours in front of the computer. So organised walks for employees (during working hours) are a regular activity. It also encourages walking or stand-up meetings to get staff to think on their feet rather than sitting at their desks. As part of the Ask Twice mental health campaign, the company hosts an ‘On your feet day’ where every hour staff get together to do two minutes of exercise. Getting up from our desks regularly helps activate muscles and re-energize our brains so we don’t feel the negative effects of the work-day slump.


On Yer Bike at GSK

GlaxoSmithKline has a long standing reputation for championing cycling, particularly among its 16,000 staff in the UK. Its cycle to work scheme, which has been running for more than a decade, boasts a dedicated staff member at each UK site to coordinate the scheme and encourage  employees to commute in this way. All staff can enrol on its Bike Miles incentive, where they’ll receive £1 per day for cycling to work – money that can then be spent on cycling accessories and clothing. All offices have safe bike storage, changing facilities, and showers. At GSK’s headquarters, there’s a loan fleet of 20 Bromptons, and a cycle repair centre run by Recycle-A-Bike. 

Here’s what one employee said about the scheme: 


“As a result of the excellent support for cyclists, I now rarely drive to work. Over the last 18 months I have seen real improvements in my overall health, energy levels and resilience… and I now also enjoy cycling as a weekend pursuit. All of this benefits GSK and myself, and I’m proud  to work for such an enlightened employer.”

Read some more comments left by staff about the scheme on Glassdoor, here


NextJump using competitions and dance 

NextJump, is a company ‘dedicated to changing workplace culture’, according to its website. Headquartered in New York, it is upfront about the emphasis it places on employee physical health. Its staff are encouraged to visit the gym twice a week, and provided with healthy meal choices daily. 

Its: Better Me + Better You = Better Us mantra incorporates its FitNut employee health programme and company wide fitness competitions are a huge part of this programme. Every week, teams compete to see how many employees are able to exercise at least two times a week. The team with the highest percentage of employees hitting this target, wins. The prize being 100,000 WOWPoints ($1000) to split among team members. WOWPoints can be used to shop at hundreds of online retailers. The results from the fitness challenge show that 90% of employees are exercising a minimum of twice a week for at least 20 minutes. 

As well as fitness competitions, NextJump also holds dance competitions where teams are given a budget for a choreographer to help them come up with the best routine. 


Aetna says namaste to boost employee wellbeing 

Staying stateside, US health insurance company Aetna provides free yoga classes to employees to help improve posture, back pain and keep its workforce energised. CEO Mark Bertonlini discovered the benefits of yoga and meditation to help with his own personal struggles after a serious skiing accident left him with chronic pain. He strongly believes the same practice can transform the life of his staff:

“If we’re going to invest in our people to get them engaged every day, we have to reduce their stress levels…we have to allow them to live their lives fully so that when they’re taking care of other people  they don’t have all that other baggage with them.”

Over a quarter of the company’s 50,000 staff regularly participate, with that number steadily rising. Since the introduction of yoga, Aetna has seen a 28 percent reduction in stress levels and a 20 percent improvement in sleep quality, and a 19 percent reduction in pain, among its staff. 

This offering has been part of an overall rethink around the company’s approach to looking after its staff. In 2015, it drastically improved what it offers staff with a wellness initiative also featuring weight loss programmes and new health screenings. 


Adobe’s impressive wellbeing allowance offering 

As our clients will testify, we always ask them to consider a wellbeing allowance as a way to boost employee physical health levels. We’ve written as to the why here – particularly as an alternative to a corporate gym membership – and we know that those that have committed to this have seen positive results. 

Businesses of all sizes can offer this, though the example we are drawing from here is from the multinational software company, Adobe. It offers all employees, including those that are part time, $600 (or local currency equivalent) per year as part of its Global Wellness Reimbursement Program. How this amount can be spent is outlined here:

“We ask that you use your best judgment in determining what you submit through the wellness reimbursement program. Below are some examples of what’s covered and what’s not. Please note, the wellness reimbursement program cannot be used for medical items or services. The list below includes examples of eligible expenses but is not an exhaustive list. If you have an item that doesn’t fall into one of these categories, here are some questions to think through: – Is this item or service directly benefiting my or my family’s wellbeing? – Does this item assist me in relaxing, getting my heart moving or learning a new activity directly related to my or my family’s wellbeing?” 

employee physical health

We fully appreciate that not every company can offer all employees $600 (£440) for a wellbeing allowance, but even a smaller amount can be appreciated by staff and go a long way to boosting their wellbeing. 

We hope that these employee physical health examples have given you some food for thought as you consider helping staff look after their physical wellbeing. If you’d like to explore this or other employee wellbeing areas with us, drop us an email via: contact@shineworkplacewellbeing.com