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Sport at work: how to take the first step?

25/06/2019

4 min read

You have heard about sport at work and are convinced of the benefits it represents. But how can you take the next step and launch a policy to encourage sport within your company? There are several steps to follow.

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All work and ... some play? Paradoxically, as is often the case, our friends on the other side of the Atlantic are accustomed to breaking up their working day with a sports session, in the company of their colleagues. In the land of obesity, bottomless sodas and intravenous injections of saturated fat, taking part in sport is highly encouraged through workshops, group sessions and inter-company challenges.

 

In France, while we are gradually catching up with the fast-food trend, the same cannot be said for sport: although the benefits are clear, fewer than one company in five has set up an appropriate system.

 

Integrating sport into the corporate management strategy

Regulatory obstacles, excessive financial investments, lack of knowledge of good practices? There are lots of well-founded reasons for avoiding the subject rather than tackling it head on. It is the task of the French Federation of Corporate Sport (FFSE) to counter this reticence and to support a transition. According to one of its recent studies, published in 2017, the stumbling blocks have been clearly identified: unsuitable premises (reason given by 34% of employers), lack of human and financial resources (19%), lack of knowledge of good practices or regulations (16%).



“These obstacles have slowed the progress of sport in companies, but interest is clearly growing.  Four years ago, no one was talking about it, no studies had even been done,” says Frédéric Delannoy, National Technical Director of the FFSE. Today, the FFSE is contacted by companies and public authorities to find ‘tailor-made solutions’ for their employees. “Above all, we promote an entrepreneurial strategy that integrates physical activity. If it is just a question of distributing sports coupons*, without follow-up and support, it makes no sense.”



Pooling motivation

You are going to do it, you feel it, you believe it.  What options are available to you? Good news, there are lots: one-off events, working-time arrangements, awareness-raising initiatives, provision of equipment, refunding gym subscriptions, etc. Initiatives that the FFSE supports with training in good sports practices and legal obligations.



But again, these schemes are much easier to roll-out in a large company than in an SME. This is where the FFSE comes in: evaluating the options and possibilities within the company’s immediate environment to pool the equipment available. Changing rooms and a shower in this company and a vacant room in another, two doors down in the same street?

What if the employees of both companies got together to share these facilities and play sports together?  Motivated employees of both companies form a larger group and the expenses of hiring a coach is spread over both companies.  Everyone’s a winner!

 

“In its tower at La Défense, Total has a fantastic swimming pool. However, for safety and regulatory reasons, it cannot make it available to other companies. Yet small businesses have more room to manoeuvre in terms of being able to pool their resources," says Frédéric Delannoy.

 

In the event of an accident, who is responsible?

No sooner has the hurdle of the availability of resources been removed, than another hurdle emerges: the employer’s responsibility in the event of an accident in the workplace. In practical terms: you set up a gym in your premises in which an employee is injured. Is this considered as a workplace accident, with all the consequences that this entails for your company? “The law is not definitive on this point, there are many factors at play. Our role is to reassure bosses and help them create the best conditions for exercising", says Frédéric Delannoy.

 

Because there are solutions for doing sport and protecting the company:

  • Hire a coach to supervise the sessions and ensure everyone does sport safely
  • Create a sports association or join a federation in order to shift responsibility.
  • Offer a digital app that allows everyone to move (walking, running, yoga...) everywhere (at home, outdoors, at work...), at any time (week or weekend), alone or in a group, and still feel part of something shared. Did you recognise the United Heroes app? Amazing…

 

The most important thing is to work in collaboration with the main target for these initiatives: employees. The range of activities and exercise formats offered are so diverse that it is almost impossible not to find what you are looking for. There is only one obligation before starting according to the FFSE: “set yourself goals.”

 

*Coupons offered by the ANCV, giving access to thousands of sports associations.

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