Why being healthy at work matters

Black and white image of Richard and Holly Branson looking at a computer
Image from Virgin.com
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 20 March 2019

Your business is only as healthy as you and your team are – and it’s so important to find ways to encourage people to stay fit and have a work life balance.

Most people spend the majority of their time now sitting down in front of screens and it can be difficult to find time to prioritise health and wellness. I try and fit in some exercise every day, and this often means getting up at 5am to have a game of tennis or to hit the gym before I get going with work.

Richard Branson playing tennis
Image from Manuela Davies/Necker Cup

My goal for 2019 is to stay fit and healthy – I feel like I can achieve so much more when I’m in shape. Now we’re nearly a quarter of the way through the year (doesn’t time fly!), it’s a great time to check in on your targets and measure your progress. I’ve been seeing great results from weight training and was really surprised that I can get the same adrenalin rush that I get from outdoor sports in the gym. I’ve been progressing onto heavier weights and feeling much stronger in myself.

There are so many benefits for businesses to encourage their people to be fit and healthy at work. Productivity goes up, sick days go down, you can make savings on healthcare and you’ll have a culture where people feel looked after.

At Virgin Management, we’ve been looking at all different kinds of ways we can encourage people to get up out of their chairs and get moving. There are the easy things we can do such as planning walking meetings, subsidising gym membership at Virgin Active and providing a healthy meal option in the canteen at lunch. If your business doesn’t do these things, why not suggest a walking meeting the next time your boss wants to catch up? I find it’s also easier to broach difficult subjects in a neutral environment.

We also try and incentivise people to get moving with Virgin Pulse, the world’s largest digital health, wellbeing and engagement company. The Virgin Pulse Global Challenge kicks off in May, with more than 350,000 people from around the world on a 100-day virtual journey to improve their health. While they travel the globe through their devices, they will learn simple ways to improve nutrition, destress, build resilience and focus, destroy distractions and get a better night’s sleep. The Virgin Pulse Global Challenge also offers some healthy competition with colleagues, which can be great for building camaraderie and team spirit.

Richard Branson cycling, with mountains in the background
Image from the Virgin Strive Challenge

It’s also great to see Virgin Pulse’s programmes working – from a survey, 57 per cent think Virgin Pulse makes their company a better place to work, improving organisational culture. A huge 87 per cent say Virgin Pulse has changed their lives and 21 per cent say they’ve taken fewer sick days since participating in Virgin Pulse. I think these statistics speak for themselves.

If you can help to inform people to change their behaviour and to be more healthy and active, then I really think they will see the huge benefits themselves. Enabling them to turn this behaviour change into their new lifestyle.