May saw MSP host and co-chair Liverpool’s first Active Workplaces conference alongside Liverpool City Council, inspiring dozens of businesses and organisations from across the city to embed a more ‘active’ culture.
We were joined at the virtual event by a panel of Liverpool business leaders, each sharing their perspective of how the events of the last 15 months have impacted on staff health and wellbeing, and how being more physically active should be encouraged as the new norm for companies as staff start to transition back to the workplace as part of a hybrid model of working.
The conference was opened was Nicky Yates (Strategic Physical Activity and Sport Development Manager at Liverpool City Council), who talked about the importance of workplaces as a setting to help support people facing stubborn inequalities to lead healthier and happier lives. Nicky also highlighted how Liverpool City Council are working collaboratively with Liverpool CCG and strategic partners with a vision to help make Liverpool the most active core city in England by 2026, of which the Liverpool Active Workplaces programme forms a key part.
Jeremy Stevens (Category Trading Director at the Very Group) talked to the audience about their organisation going on a journey, starting with listening to staff and implementing small and simple things that made a real difference. He also talked about what work might look like in the future, as some organisations transition to a hybrid working model and what that might mean for companies and staff moving forward.
We also heard some best practice and evidence of interventions that some local companies have recently implemented. Ben Towell (Health and Wellbeing Manager at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust) talked about “staff needing support, not strawberries” and that a health and wellbeing strategy should be seen, lived and breathed rather than stuck in a bottom draw – as an example, he talked about the Walk and Talk calls that his organisation have implemented to help connect people together through physical activity during the pandemic. Carolyn Knott (Head of Partnerships and People at Growth Platform) described how they too had used a physical activity campaign to bring people closer together whilst working from home and encourage isolated workers to feel more part of their team.
After an energiser where participants got the opportunity to practice what we preached (and we saw members of our own panel lifting weights, cans of beans and even plant pots!), we were delighted to present a raft of tangible evidence to the panel through Dr Lee Graves (LJMU). Lee talked about the impact of COVID-19 on employee physical activity and sedentary behaviour levels and why workplace physical activity is an important indicator towards business productivity and profitability.
Our audience were asked to rate their confidence before and after their event about implementing workplace physical activity initiatives, with 65% participants reporting an improvement by an average of 27%. One attendee told us, “I was surprised at how big the network of organisations in Liverpool is, and how easy it is to implement small changes – I think it’s more motivating for a company not to engage in such a journey alone; the fact that it’s linked to a network of other companies and partners makes it easier to have access to support and expertise,”
The Liverpool Active Workplaces programme is part of the Liverpool Active City Strategy, which is resourced via a partnership between Liverpool City Council, NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and strategic stakeholders. So far, over 140 organisations based in Liverpool have signed up to the Liverpool Active Workplaces programme – to find out more please visit www.merseysidesport.com/liverpool-active-workplaces