We all know that staying in shape is good for your health. So it’s in an employer’s best interest to encourage workers to exercise. But should an employer go a step further and let workers take time off from their jobs to work out? A recent study suggests that doing so might actually increase worker productivity.
Swedish Exercise Study
According to a study in the August issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, taking time out of the work week to participate in a worker exercise program may lead to increased productivity—despite the reduction in work hours.
The study looked at three groups of 177 workers total at a large Swedish public dental health organization:
- One group was assigned to a mandatory exercise program carried out during regular work hours for 2.5 hours per week
- Another group received the same reduction in work hours but no exercise program
- The third group worked regular hours with no exercise program.
Workers assigned to the exercise program reported that they felt more productive while on the job. Measuring productivity objectively by number of patients treated, productivity for this group also increased. And these workers had a reduced rate of work absences due to illness
The study results suggest that reducing work hours for exercise or other health promotion activities doesn’t necessarily lead to decreased productivity—and may even have the opposite effect. The productivity gains seem to result from higher output during work hours and fewer missed work days.
So would you consider letting workers take time out from their jobs to exercise?