Active Workplaces

Bad health is bad for business

This section on active workplaces aims to highlight the benefits of promoting and encouraging physical activity at work. If you are looking for resources on how to counter inactivity at work, click here.

When employees suffer from poor physical and mental health, they are not the only ones that feel the impact. 

Employers see significant financial costs from poor employee health. This is mainly through sickness absence, presenteeism (working when unwell), and poor productivity.

That’s why promoting the benefits of physical activity and being an active workplace are so important.

As a nation, we are 24% less active today than we were fifty years ago.

This inactivity is contributing to a rise in the number of people suffering from avoidable health problems. It’s also contributing to the increase in the number of long-term health conditions that are being diagnosed.

  • Absence costs businesses over £14bn per annum
  • Over 15.4m days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2017/18 – an increase of 27% since 2009
  • 33% of English long-term sickness absence is attributed to musculoskeletal conditions
  • Costs of presenteeism are estimated to be £30bn annually
Woman experiencing fatigue at work
Active workplaces encouraging employees to be active

Physical activity can help your organisation and your employees

By supporting your employees to be active and healthy in an active workplace, your organisation can see many benefits. These include:

Inactive workplaces employees are less happy

Improved mental health

Exercise can be a more effective treatment than medication for people suffering with mild to moderate depression.  It can help reduce anxiety and feelings of stress. In addition, it supports clearer thinking and increased self-esteem, too.

Man sat at desk

Reduced sickness absences

Mental ill-health, stress and musculoskeletal problems are the three leading causes of long-term absence. They also make up two of the top three causes of short-term absence.  Physical activity can help to reduce the risks and lessen the symptoms associated with all three of these areas.

Older employee working at one of the active workplaces across the country

Improved physical health

It’s medically proven that people who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing many long-term (chronic) conditions.  Exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer by up to 50%. It can also lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.  It boosts your mood, and improves sleep quality and energy levels, too.


Employees at an active workplace

Be a more attractive employer

Active workplaces can enhance the reputation and profile of your organisation. Providing an attractive workplace health offer demonstrates that you value staff health and wellbeing. It can make you more appealing to future employees, too.

Woman handing man papers at work

Increase in staff productivity

Numerous studies have shown that incorporating physical activity into your regular routine can provide cognitive benefits. These include improved concentration, sharper memory, prolonged mental stamina, and enhanced creativity.

Workplace chats between employees

Improved morale and relationships

Physical activity initiatives provide opportunities to improve workplace relationships. In addition, improved team cohesion, boosted morale, and a good bit of office banter are important benefits, too.


Active workplaces: Support for an ageing workforce

In 2010, one in four of the working age population were aged 50 and over. This is projected to increase to one in three by 2022. As people live and work for longer, this certainly presents both challenges and opportunities to employers.

Supporting your staff to be active will help them to maintain their physical and mental health as they age. Therefore, it is important to maintain staff wellbeing and productivity as they get older. In addition, it can improve symptoms of age-associated conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.

Smiling older employee in meeting

Get in touch

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Or maybe you need support in becoming an active workplace. Whatever you need assistance with, get in touch. Alternatively, you can check out our other resources below.

Katie Tierney

Workplace Health Officer

Katie leads on our workplace health programme. She supports organisations to develop tailored workplace activity programmes, and delivers workplace health training

[email protected]


Take a look at our workplace resources: