Interview of Thomas Nielsen (Coach at Home) for Duke magazine
In addition to contributing to better team cohesion, sport at work is an effective way of fighting absenteeism. For Thomas Nielsen, CEO of Coach at Home, this benefits a company’s productivity.
Do health and work always go hand in hand?
The health status of a company’s employees has a direct impact on absenteeism. Two factors contribute to this: external circumstances, which are specific to employees, and internal circumstances, which are the company’s responsibility. Occupational illnesses are constantly on the rise, as are musculoskeletal disorders. Employees under pressure – suffering from headaches, back and neck pain – naturally perform less well, are often absent and are prone to burn-out. Moreover, under such pressure, the limbic brain tends to release a high level of cortisol, the stress hormone; obviously, this has negative consequences for the company’s productivity. One in four workers in Luxembourg showed signs of burn-out in 2017. Unfortunately, this figure is on the rise compared to 2014, when it was one in five. Employers must therefore come up with win-win solutions via occupational health prevention to motivate employees, to improve the general work environment and to strengthen company performance. Regularly practising a sport – such as jogging, walking or Pilates, for example – is an appropriate response to this challenge: this leads to the secretion of endorphins, the happiness hormone, which help to relieve stress and pain. It is therefore clear that the cost of such a policy is undoubtedly worth it.
“Sport at work has a vital impact on well-being and health.”
How do you intervene to prevent poor health?
In accordance with to national legislation, employers in Luxembourg are obliged to take all necessary measures to protect their employees’ health and safety. Some companies go even further and implement truly innovative initiatives in this regard: they see employees’ health and well-being as one of the objectives of any socially responsible company. Companies using Coach at Home offer their employees various group classes – running, cardio boxing, stretching and more – which are usually held during lunch breaks. Other companies have gyms which employees can access, with a mixed success rate because employees lack the time or the motivation. Lastly, companies ask us to organise conferences or health days. These events are very successful, understandably so: preventing burn-out is an unavoidable challenge for companies, particularly since it is difficult to tackle this situation alone.