Leeds gets active at work


Assuming you’re an ‘average’ sort of person, you will spend around 35% of your waking hours at work. Over the average working lifetime, that means about 90,000 of sweat and toil. Workplaces and employers who are serious about finding ways for their employees to stay active can therefore have a huge impact on levels of physical activity in a city like Leeds – and can help tackle the health issues that come from inactivity.

Over the past year, the city’s Active Leeds service has engaged with major employers to hear their views and to support them in finding ways to keep their employees physically active to improve their mental and physical wellbeing. Read on to find out how they’ve got on…

The “Get Set Leeds” project addresses an identified gap in the corporate health and well-being market. Drawing on Active Leeds’ offer, 10 partnerships have been created with large employers in the city – such as John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Npower and Arla. The team works with businesses to understand their drivers, carry out analysis into their current health and well-being position, gather insights into staff behaviours, and then support co-production of physical activity based solutions.

The Active Leeds team delivered “Fit 4 Peak” at John Lewis’ Leeds Victoria and Logic Park, based on a business objective to tackle inactivity, build awareness and raise overall health and wellbeing of partners. Working with the team for over a year, activity has included a range of engagement events and interventions such as social running groups, Boxfit, PING, Store Yoga and Wake Up Shake up mornings, and showcasing the range of provision that exists across the city. The team also carried out health checks with partners and ran motivational interviewing sessions where partners were offered a confidential consultation with a health professional. Alongside this, a pledge scheme was launched encouraging partners to make a commitment to becoming more active.

Sam Blevins (John Lewis Clinical Lead) commented: “We have worked in partnership with Active Leeds for over a year now and the support and enthusiasm is infectious, they have supported us with after work activities, updated us on city wide initiatives and attended well-being events engaging with our partners in a friendly and supportive way. What really makes them stand out to us is their can do attitude and the feeling that they really do care about the health and well-being of our Partners, looking forward to many more collaborations in the future keep up the good work.”

Similarly, at Npower, the team worked to create a partnership and pathways into Active Leeds programmes to support an active and healthy workforce during a period of corporate restructuring. This involved co-design of interventions based on the outcomes of employee focus group work, with regular activity now in place including Thai Chi, walking and health checks. Npower employees now better understand the benefits of getting active and have a range of tools both in house and within their own communities to support them on this journey. The project has a reach to 1,500 people who now can receive information about local physical activity opportunities through internal communication system.

The success of this approach is multi-faceted. On one hand, the city has a route to upscale and promote its interventions to secure and extend improved health and well-being outcomes by engaging more people in the city’s activity offer, influencing travel behaviours, supporting corporate social responsibility, and co-producing solutions with Leeds’ businesses and residents; whilst at the same time building new revenue streams through a consultancy service offer. On the other, individuals and businesses have clear access to a gateway to meet their health goals. Outcomes reported by participating businesses and employees include increased productivity; improved physical and mental well-being, confidence and self-esteem, reduced mood related sickness and absence, happier, healthier workforce’s, and shifts in travel behaviours.

Photo by Giles Rocholl

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