We’re often told to strike a balance between our work and personal lives – yet, for many, there are still challenges and barriers to achieving a healthy status quo. 

Whether you are pursuing a new line of work or have been in the same company for many years, finding purpose outside of our day job is important to our personal growth and future success.

In hindsight, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to turn two different passions of mine into my livelihood. Although injury cut my rugby career short, setting up Optimist Performance helped me shift focus and explore my passion for business and corporate strategy.

Employees deserve time every day they can call “theirs”.

However, it doesn’t matter whether you play a sport for a living or want to pursue a corporate career, or anything else for that matter, finding time in the day that you can call “yours” is vital to staying motivated in the long-term, while it also helps us to keep focus on what’s important in the present and that includes our work ethic.

It may come as no surprise that exercise is a fundamental ingredient to a healthy work-life balance. Studies continually show this link between personal health and community wealth. What’s also cited is the trend between productivity and happiness in countries whose populations lead highly active lifestyles and that is why I strongly believe that exercise is an underused resource in the evolution of the companies we work for.

According to a study published by the technology company Kisi, among the best countries for work-life balance throughout 2021, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, and Denmark all advocate cultures built around family and downtime, while also ranking very high on productivity and work-life satisfaction. 

57% of all UK-based staff are considering a change of job

However, while some countries also value the option to work remotely, even before the pandemic, research shows that UK employees working from home have been putting in longer hours since the Covid-19 outbreak. Only last month, a poll carried out by Censuswide showed that close to three in five (57 per cent) of all UK-based staff, including those working from home, are suffering from low morale, while three-quarters of office-based workers are considering a change of job. 

This is a major concern for our economy because it means that, although our society is adapting to adversity, the mindset among managers, and therefore their employees, is still to navigate the coronavirus pandemic by increasing workloads rather than encouraging staff to take care of their personal wellbeing. This is leading to greater dissatisfaction among workers and is a threat to the continuity and productivity of our workforces, despite appearing to be working harder.

Exercise can play a clear and decisive role in rebuilding morale among workers

In order to reverse this trend, and boost work-life satisfaction among the UK population, exercise can play a clear and decisive role in rebuilding morale among workers. Whether this is part of a benefits scheme, by partnering with a local gym or sporting group, so to reduce the cost on the individual, managers who incorporate ironclad fitness and wellbeing hours into their corporate strategy serve themselves and their company well by helping to boost productivity on the “shop floor”, while also helping to reduce staff turnover and employee dissatisfaction. 

Building a culture that cares deeply about what employees do outside working hours can be achieved – though it won’t be possible while companies continue to put profit margins above the welfare and mental health of their employees, whose talents and expertise underpin the growth and success of the business.

Therefore, by giving individuals the time and tools to focus on their wellbeing, and encouraging them to lead more active lives outside their careers, they will be better placed to thrive professionally and make your company better for it.