Businessman and athlete starting race

 

The positive impact physical activity has on our own health is apparent, but your team taking part in, and even watching sport, can also have a favourable influence on your business.

And with the blur between work and home life becoming ever greater as more people work from bedrooms and kitchens, helping your staff find the right balance, through company activity, available resources and flexible working hours can achieve a host of benefits for them personally and for your company’s success.

So, how can sport can have a positive impact on your business?

Teamwork mentality: Team sports (even those now available virtually, like cycling) develop transferable skills such as supporting other people and empowering them to achieve more, commitment to a common goal, effective communication, and personal accountability to show up and give your best game because if you don’t, it’s your friends on the field that suffer, either by having to work twice as hard or in some cases, the team not being able to play at all. Noticing the importance of your role in the game, whatever position you play in, and the knock-on effect of your efforts (or lack there-of) fosters a person to not only work well in a team but also to take responsibility for their own actions.

Healthy competitiveness: A healthy level of competition can help to push beyond what we think is possible, and most sport promotes this mindset, whether it’s competing against others or working towards a personal goal. When we experience a ‘win’, no matter how small, dopamine levels increase, providing that good feeling, and in turn, motivation and momentum to reach towards another goal, increasing productivity levels in all areas of life.

A study from the Social Issues Research Centre found that 47% of women and 40% of men said sporting success lifts their mood and makes them more productive.

Athletes at start of race

The art of learning to lose: Following on from winning, learning how to lose – how to accept and learn from ‘failure’ – is a skill that takes practice like any other. Once mastered (or continually developed may be more accurate) the benefits could be instrumental to the success of your business. We all get it wrong sometimes. How many of us find ourselves making the same mistakes over and over again? And how useful would it be, to instead, know how to effectively learn from our mistakes and continue to be unafraid of taking risks?

A sense of belonging: Even watching sport has many positive effects on our mindset. Feeling a part of something bigger, a part of a community, all rallying behind a common purpose, provides us with a sense of security and belonging. Even better if colleagues also enjoy the same sport and a bond is deepened through this common ground.

This is especially crucial right now, when our connection with people is limited due to the pandemic. And of course, if you team or athlete win, the adrenaline further boosts that positivity.

Goal setting, expectations, and control: Many sports, like strength training, running or even watching Keep Fit With Bez teach us a wealth of pragmatic skills that are transferable to any workplace. In sport, we tend to have a long-term goal with many incremental smaller goals that lead

us there. Similarly, chunking down our workload to smaller tasks makes them much more manageable and we learn to focus on each task more fully whilst remaining motivated by the bigger picture. Strength training is a great example of a sport that requires control. Recognising what is within our capabilities and learning to ‘master’ the correct form before charging on to heavier weights encourages patience, an acute level of attention to detail and a determination that many businesses would prosper from.

Leadership qualities: Physical activity on a regular basis can improve the health of mind and body. One quality that is common among people who take part in sport is an uplift in levels of confidence derived from the social activity or simply from feeling better (and for some, the perception of looking better) about oneself.

Clarity of thought, and even articulation are also possible positive effects of exercise. Often it is necessary to get your message across clearly and concisely whilst playing, so this is partly due to learned communication from sport. It is also due to the increased brain oxygen levels that exercise stimulates can enhance the function of the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain responsible for decision-making and reasoning.

Busy workplace

Sport can and does, therefore, directly or indirectly benefit your employees and your business in many ways. Habits formed from an activeness in sport naturally seep into work ethic, behaviours and mindset as well as our general wellbeing.

Now in a third lockdown in the UK, working from home, for some, has offered a more flexible way of working, whilst for others it has intensified the amount of time they spend at the home-desk.

In a recent survey conducted by Sport England, 62% of adults said they considered being active more important now than pre-COVID-19. The same survey also found that 41% of the adult respondents reported doing less physical activity than pre-lockdown, whilst 31% reported doing more.

As a business owner, and (I hope) as a person who cares for your staff, what do you do and is there more that can be done to encourage and promote employee activity in sport?

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