Active Workplaces and Tameside Council

The initiative is becoming more widespread as it is successfully adopted by businesses across Tameside, including Sunflower Childcare Group who combined active workplaces and a commitment to wellness with their ongoing fundraising.

Making connections to develop the scheme
Community Initiatives Officer Marie Hare runs the active workplaces programme at Tameside Council. ‘My role is a new position that came about as a result of the local pilot work,’ explains Marie. ‘I’m working within the council’s employment and skills teams, and closely with those involved with active travel and public health, to show businesses how being active in the workplace supports a productive, happy workforce.’

Marie’s connection with Sunflower Childcare Group came from her work outside Tameside Council. ‘I’m always looking for opportunities to share active benefits, and often stumble across people doing great things already,’ Marie says. ‘That’s how I found out about the plans at Sunflower, as some of the Sunflower team are members of my Slimming World group. One of their team members was undergoing treatment for leukaemia so they were raising money for Cancer Research. Naturally, I wanted to support them with the council’s scheme to promote moving more in the workplace, which would also recognise Sunflower as an active workplace themselves.’

Providing programmes to spark active ideas
Sunflower’s Duty Manager Andrina Biddle was keen to find out more, so Marie invited the team to one of her workshops to discover what support was available to help them become more active. ‘These workshops follow up from initial contacts we’ve made and show businesses how to input and grow active workplaces’, Marie explains. ‘I’d spoken with the Sunflower nursery manager, Dawn, in advance of the workshop, and discovered she and her staff were all moving less than perhaps you’d expect within a busy childcare environment. This meant I already had some suggestions to discuss with the Sunflower team.’

‘We fed back lots of Marie’s ideas to the wider team, and everything grew from there,’ Andrina says. ‘We started including a yoga session in our staff meeting and ten minute fitness sessions in every team meeting. We keep this light-hearted so it involves us all, even the members of staff who are less active.’

Showcasing benefits for wider teams
The Sunflower team have also expanded their active workplaces ideas to adopt Wellbeing Wednesdays. ‘This can be anything from bringing in healthy snacks to committing to walking into work,’ Andrina explains. ‘But the focus is always to make wellness accessible to everyone and involve all members of staff. That’s one of the greatest benefits we’ve found to becoming more active as a workplace: it’s brought us together as a stronger team. It’s boosted our morale and gives all our staff - no matter their age, size or ability – something we can do together to stay healthy during the working day.’

Next on the agenda for the Sunflower team is the Pretty Muddy race. ‘We want to raise money not only for Cancer Research but also for our colleague’s family – her two young children and partner - to help them create lots of happy memories when she is well enough for trips out and holidays,’ says Andrina.

Demonstrating impact for increasing active workplaces
‘The ongoing work between Tameside Council and Sunflower is a great example of how just one small step can be the catalyst to take our active workplaces programme forward,’ explains GreaterSport’s Strategic Lead for Active Adults John Brady. ‘Marie has put a strong support scheme in place that can be adopted by different people in different organisations, and at multiple levels.’

‘It’s through these schemes we can show that simple activities really do count,’ continues John. ‘It’s not always the “big ticket” events like a 10K run. Instead, it’s accessible changes such as walking meetings and taking the stairs, not the lift, which help us make active workplaces normal and ensure physical activity is included in health and wellbeing plans.’

Marie agrees: ‘It’s great to see our networks connecting, gaining different viewpoints and finding lots of sharing opportunities so we can better understand the work of the local pilot. As the initiative grows, we’re learning more about how people we assume are on their feet all day, like the nursery team, are often inactive, and how others feel their working environment doesn’t make active workplaces appropriate. We want to change perceptions and share stories to inspire others, showing people it doesn’t matter what type of business they’re in, there’s always a way to increase their workplace activity.’

Support for you and your workplace
For more information to support you and your workplace to keep moving during the working day visit the Workplace Toolkit. If you are based in Tameside and would like to contact Marie please email marie.hare@tameside.gov.uk.

GS supporting GM Moving

Keeping Greater Manchester Moving

Dear GreaterSport/GM Moving friends,

In line with Government and Public Health England advice, the GreaterSport/GM Moving team have today moved to home working; leading and supporting the GM Moving ambition from our virtual offices.

Our vision and purpose remains the same; changing lives together and supporting people to move more.

There is a great deal that we can all do to keep the GM Moving movement growing during this period of change.

The evidence remains; an active life brings huge benefits to people’s physical and mental wellbeing, particularly during times of stress and anxiety. Being active, eating well and taking good care of ourselves is vital for our resilience. At a time where we are not able to connect in the same ways in the physical world, we need to stay socially connected, more than ever and ensure our collective wellbeing.

As a team and wider network, we will to do everything we can to support and inspire people to become or remain active during this difficult time. We will all need to transform our approach, to ensure we design moving in to our new world. We will be pulling together tips, advice, guidance and things people can do to keep moving during this time of physical distancing on our website; www.greatersport.co.uk. Our programmes, such as Moving Forces, are looking at ways they can support people to keep moving through digital channels, in light of the physical sessions’ cancellations.

Business needs and priorities will shift as we use our time, energy and resources in the best ways we can, in service of the people of Greater Manchester. This is a time for quick adaptation, transformation and innovation. We look forward to working with you to find creative routes to activity and wellbeing in the weeks ahead.

Our communities will need our support in other ways too, so we will be creating flexible approaches that enable our team to support the communities where they live, while they work close to home.

We are all fully equipped to work from home, connect with you, talk to you and continue to work with you. We will be in touch to reorganise existing commitments, to run virtual meetings, conference calls, webinars and online opportunities to keep moving forward together.

Please let us know your plans, stay connected on social media and in person. We are at the other end of the phone, find all of our contact details online here. Let’s keep talking in real life. It’s good for our wellbeing.

Our very best wishes.

Stay active, healthy and well, and let us know if we can help in any way at all.

GS supporting GM Moving

Staying Active While We Work From Home

As the way we work and live quickly changes its important to stay active. Some of you will have been using the Active Workplaces Toolkit to enable your colleagues to be active during their working days. As we move to working from home we wanted to help with tips and advice on how to continue being active at work, all be it in difficult and changing circumstances.


The official advice is now recommending against non-essential contact and all unnecessary travel - this includes working from home if you can - which means our routines are going to be changing.

You can also still go outside for a walk, run, cycle - or any other way you normally get active outside - and many community, club, and leisure facilities do currently remain open. If you're using these facilities, or getting active outside, make sure that you familiarise yourselves with the latest official advice on social distancing and on general hygiene.

But with lots of people staying at home, we've compiled into one place some of the most handy exercise ideas that are out there for keeping active in and around your home.

And if you've found a great way to keep active online, use the hashtag #StayInWorkOut on social media to share it with others.

Remember to check government advice if you think you have any symptoms linked to coronavirus.

For GreaterSports Tips and Advive Click Here


Why having an Active Workplace is so important to HSBC

One Greater Manchester business fully embracing an active workplace is HSBC. Understanding the value of physical activity in the working day, the team recently hosted their first workplace Daily Mile. Hugely successful in our region’s primary schools, The Daily Mile™ simply involves including a 15 minute walk as part of the school or working day.

HSBC were the first workplace to adopt The Daily Mile in Greater Manchester and are continuing to promote walks every lunchtime. Staff are walking a mile (or, for about 15 minutes) during their lunch break, ideally every day.

Area Director for Business Banking Sam Roden is leading the way at HSBC, encouraging his colleagues to be more active during the working day.

‘I’m one of those people who is guilty of sitting at my desk and eating my sandwich,’ confessed Sam. ‘So I thought, why not encourage people to get out in the fresh air?’.
Employees from HSBC set out on their lunchtime walk in Manchester’s Spinningfields
Employees from HSBC set out on their lunchtime walk in Manchester’s Spinningfields
Sam Roden, supported by Chris Boardman at the start of HSBC’s first lunchtime walk
Sam Roden, supported by Chris Boardman at the start of HSBC’s first lunchtime walk

Since HSBC adopted The Daily Mile they are continuing to promote walks every lunchtime. Staff are walking a mile (or, for about 15 minutes) during their lunch break, ideally every day.

The Daily Mile is a concept that Sam was keen to bring into the workplace, ‘There are loads of benefits of doing The Daily Mile,’ he says. ‘Feeling re-energised after lunchtime is the main thing: people are more productive if they have a break from the daily grind of work. But, there are also many other benefits, such as increasing staff engagement and morale.’

HSBC are keen to spread the word of active workplaces to their business banking clients too. Sam and his team have recently visited Vue Group in Salford, where they, alongside British Cycling and other partners, delivered a health and wellbeing day for employees. The day included feedback on a staff survey to find out what levels of wellbeing Vue has in place, and also find out what kind of activities staff would like to take part in.

British Cycling provided bikes and training to encourage people to consider cycling as an option for commuting to work. This encouraged one employee to get back on a bike after a 40 year break, now regularly cycling to work.


Sustainable travel planning for a multi-site operator

Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) Travel Choices team worked with Stagecoach Manchester to develop a multi-site travel plan which promoted commuter cycling for staff across three of its depots. Using a Sustainable Travel Grant, improved cycle parking has been installed, with loan bikes and on-site training arranged.

Stagecoach Manchester employs around 2,300 staff. Shift work and the need for staff, especially drivers, to travel outside normal bus operating hours led to high car use and strong demand on the limited parking spaces available at sites.

Committed to promoting sustainability across the organisation, Stagecoach had already undertaken a travel survey of employees, and with TfGM’s help was able to analyse the data and plot postcodes to help create a practical and effective travel plan for the business.

With a network of travel champions at each site, Stagecoach is able to disseminate travel information and organise co-ordinated events.


Andrew Howard-Smith, Stagecoach’s marketing assistant, explained: “We are particularly keen to promote cycling to our depots, as this offers the necessary degree of flexibility to cope with shift times, will improve the health of the workforce, and save them money.”

TfGM 1

Stagecoach Manchester also took advantage of a TfGM Sustainable Travel Grant for cycle storage, at three depots supported by a package of cycle-related activities including:

  • Free adult cycle training and maintenance classes and pool bikes provided by TfGM Assistance in setting up a Bicycle User group at depots
  • Set up of a tax-efficient cycle purchase scheme for employees which has already received 300 applications
  • Cycle-themed events and promotion for staff

The company is also training all of its drivers to be more aware of cyclists’ needs on the highway, which will help reduce the perceived danger for all bike users.


Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Travel Planning

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is one of the most efficient fire and rescue services in the country. With bold ambitions to lower its environmental impact and improve community relationships, GMFRS approached Transport for Greater
Manchester’s (TfGM) Travel Choices for support, and has since received a Sustainable Travel Grant for bike maintenance stands at 15 of its fire stations.

The free-to-use bicycle repair stands installed at fire stations across Greater Manchester will allow the public, local cycle-commuters and fire fighters to fix punctures and carry out minor repairs.


Commenting on GMFRS’ motivations, Sam Pickles, Environment Manager, said: “We have one of the best take-up rates for the Cycle-to-Work Scheme in the public sector and we go out of our way to ensure our staff can travel to work by bike – it's wonderful to be able to help our local communities enjoy this sustainable form of transport too.”

“By working with TfGM’s Travel Choices experts we hope to be able to have long term benefits, from reducing our carbon footprint, to improving the health and wellbeing of GMFRS staff and the people who live in the communities in which we serve.”

TfGM 2

Initiatives in their Sustainable Travel Action plan also being delivered include:

  • Hosting adult cycle training and maintenance classes for staff and the public
  • Bike maintenance sessions which provide a free health check and on-the-spot repairs
  • Staff events and promotions to raise awareness of travel options to the sites

Since working with TfGM, GMFRS has made its fire stations more accessible by sustainable modes of transport and has seen an increase in the number of employees cycling to work.


How Shift8* helped employees become happier, healthier and improved their bottom line

A bespoke wellbeing strategy by Rener Wellbeing with top down buy-in and open-minded employees, contributed to Shift8* implementing an effective wellbeing strategy. As a result, Shift8* not only saw an improvement in their employees’ productivity and a reduction in their staff’s absence rates, their staff had also become happier and healthier in the workplace. The strategy also doubled the SME’s in-year sales, leading to a return on investment of 1:250.

Shift8* have a simple aim — to change the lives of people living with cognitive challenges, their families and those that care for them. They are committed to reducing levels of social isolation and are doing so by introducing proven technology, referred to as the “Magic Table™”.

The Wellbeing Challenge:

Shift8* have a rapidly growing team based in their London HQ, as well as a remote team across the UK and Ireland. They wanted to ensure their staff were healthy, happy and felt looked after, and they wanted to lay the groundwork to ensure this didn't fall by the wayside as the organisation continued to grow.

John Ramsay, Shift8*'s CEO and co-founder, had already set up several wellbeing practices within Shift8*, such as flexible working hours, long lunches to allow staff to exercise, and the ability to work from home, yet, he felt that there could be more structure and focus within their current wellbeing implementation.

He also knew more could be done at an organisational level, as he was aware of the many benefits employee wellbeing could bring to his staff and to his company.

The Wellbeing Strategy:

John reached out to Rener Wellbeing Ltd in order to develop a bespoke wellbeing strategy. The aim was to help Shift8*’s employees to sustainably improve their levels of wellbeing, and to integrate it into their culture.

John and the other senior leaders were very open about their investment in developing a wellbeing strategy. Indeed, having leadership buy-in from the start significantly contributed to the strategy’s success.

The strategy development process was broken up into four main parts:

  • Wellbeing Awareness Workshop
  • Organisational Wellbeing Needs Analysis
  • Bespoke Wellbeing Strategy Creation
  • Wellbeing Strategy Implementation

Rener Wellbeing’s strategy began with an awareness workshop during Shift8*’s Team Day in December 2018 (with most of their team donning Christmas jumpers). This was to ensure that all staff understood the importance of wellbeing, why it was worth investing time and effort into, and why Shift8* was developing a wellbeing strategy.

Rener Wellbeing took a four-pronged approach to wellbeing, focusing on mental health, physical activity, sleep and nutrition.

They highlighted the benefits to personal health and happiness, as well as the impact wellbeing can have on work, such as improving productivity, engagement, satisfaction and performance.

The organisational wellbeing needs analysis was then used to take the pulse of Shift8*’s current wellbeing status. Observations and interviews were conducted with staff members from all teams with differing levels of seniority.

By fully understanding what was working for their staff's wellbeing, and where more structure or more effective practices could be put in place, Rener Wellbeing developed a bespoke wellbeing strategy for Shift8*.

Several wellbeing practices were implemented at a strategic level and encouraged from the top-down. For example, a flexible working policy became formalised. The new policy ensured staff had time to go to the gym or take breaks to carry out mindfulness activities for both the head office and remote teams. It provided clarity about what flexible working meant, with staff enabled to start and finish work at varying times, taking into account individual needs.

Similarly, the strategy assessed their organisational chart, making improvements to ensure communication lines and job roles were clearly defined.

The wellbeing strategy included 1-1 wellbeing support for the executive team, a group wellbeing plan for the staff based at the HQ, and a separate plan for their remote workers.

The plans covered all four areas of wellbeing. Through top-down encouragement, and an assigned internal Wellbeing Champion, the wellbeing strategy became not only immediately actionable, but sustainable.


‘Wellbeing is a massive part of our culture now, the strategy helped us put in place actions and we are actually doing them.' 'Presenteeism has been eradicated and our in-year sales have doubled to £2m. Improved wellbeing definitely helped.’ - John Ramsay, CEO & Co-Founder, Shift8*


'The fact that wellbeing is part of our culture now is great, we are all moving in the same direction together around our wellbeing and it is clear that with increased wellbeing everyone is working more effectively'. - Chris Baird - Head of BD and Shift8*'s Wellbeing Champion

The Sustainable Results:

In terms of productivity and engagement at work, John highlighted that presenteeism had significantly reduced, thus leading to higher productivity rates. Absenteeism rates reduced as well, especially in cases related to mental and physical health issues.

Several health improvements were noted among the staff. Their nutrition improved, with few healthy food options close to the office, most Shift8* employees now bring their own lunches into work. They also actively seek healthier food shops that are slightly farther away from the office, but worth the walk.

Staff energy levels have increased and staff reported that their quality and duration of sleep has risen. Physical activity levels have also increased, with many taking advantage of their lunch break, for example, by going to the gym, walking, and by going to activity classes. Others have found ways to integrate physical activity into their day, such as taking a call whilst walking in the park or cycling their kids to school. Mental health has also become an open topic of discussion, spoken about between all staff without a sense of stigma.

To top it off, Shift8*’s sales team have also improved their performance, in-year sales have doubled and continue to rise. All of these improvements were significantly boosted as a result of improved levels of wellbeing. This has led to the wellbeing strategy giving an ROI of 1:250, without taking into account cost savings from reduced presenteeism and absenteeism.

All four aspects of wellbeing are discussed at the weekly team wellbeing catchup and casually between staff. The remote workers have an active wellbeing WhatsApp group and a monthly Skype call to go into more detail about their personal wellbeing.

Looking forward, to ensure these benefits are sustained as they grow, wellbeing has been implemented into the onboarding process for new employees. In addition, their Wellbeing Champion organises monthly wellbeing-themed events alongside the wellbeing action plans developed by Rener Wellbeing.

It goes without saying that the positive impact of Rener Wellbeing’s strategy is attributed to the incredible attitude from Shift8*’s team and leadership. Their employees continue to encourage each other to sustainably work on their wellbeing, and genuinely believe in the benefits of integrating wellbeing into their lives.

If you are interested in finding out more about the support Rener Wellbeing can provide your organisation, please email info@renerwellbeing.com, or visit their website www.renerwellbeing.com


DWP Jobcentres getting active after Champion Training

GreaterSport recently delivered Active Workplace Workshops to 27 members of DWP Jobcentre Plus staff from all over Greater Manchester to support them to move more during their working day.

Working in a Jobcentre Plus site is a mainly sedentary role and employees identified this as a risk to their health and wellbeing at work. Sedentary roles can have a significant effect on your wellbeing and leave you prone to conditions such as anxiety, depression, cardio vascular disease and musculoskeletal issues.

The workshop covered areas such as how to engage their colleagues in activity, the barriers to activity and how to overcome them as well as signposting to local support and activities which DWP staff could get involved in. Attendees left the workshop inspired and went away to think about how they could start implementing simple ideas in their workplace.

Eight weeks after the workshop the feedback from the attendees has been fantastic and here are just a few of the initiatives that have been started across Greater Manchester.

Employees from Worsley completed a 'Where in the World Challenge' counting the total number of steps of staff who wished to participate. This helped to increase and improve their physical activity and they ended up walking the virtual distance of Worsley to Istanbul, an incredible 1911 miles. As a reward participants took part in breakfast events with items of food from countries they walked through. The challenge acted as a kick start and the majority of staff have continued to walk more and regular walks have now been set up.

Walking has been popular at most sites with Didsbury and Stockport also organising walks. Stockport went on a guided ghost walk around the town centre after work with 15 members of the team attending, they even managed to snap a photo of a ghost. Didsbury have had a great response to walking groups and those are about to commence again after a break. It also highlighted how poor some colleagues fitness levels were and inspired them to set up running groups with neighbours at home.

Table Tennis is popular in workplaces and helps employees to take five minutes away from their desk to energise themselves and then return to their desks more productive. The Wigan office have successfully applied for funding for their own Table Tennis Table and have cleared a spare room in their building to allow themselves time away from their desks.

Active Champions Workshops are free to any business or organisation in Greater Manchester and can be tailored to address the needs of the business. The workshops can also support existing wellbeing champions by giving them the knowledge and confidence to develop initiatives to help colleagues move more as part of the working day.


The role of physical activity in a holistic workplace wellbeing context

Rener Wellbeing is a workplace wellbeing consultancy supporting a range of UK based and international organisations (including Sport England, Intertrust Group, Active Partnerships, British Retail Consortium, and more) to sustainably improve their employees’ wellbeing through a 4-pronged holistic approach focusing on mental health, physical activity, sleep and nutrition. Having found that many employees are currently struggling with mental health concerns, they explain how physical activity, as part of a wider holistic approach, is a tremendously effective way to address them, as well as to improve and maintain overall wellbeing

Out of all of the companies we’ve surveyed recently, mental health (stress/anxiety) is clearly the biggest area of need within the sphere of holistic workplace wellbeing. This is often due to a multitude of effects, including work-related uncertainty, COVID, financial anxiety, and other personal issues. Despite the fact that it’s such a major issue, many people are still unaware about how to manage their mental health.

In 2018, AXA PPP conducted a major mental health survey — 78% of the 4,500 adults surveyed felt so stressed at some point during the year that they were unable to cope.

A major contributor to this trend is the fact that many people don’t make a habit of consciously looking after their mental health in a sustainable, long-term way, only becoming aware when something’s very wrong rather than reducing the impact of less serious but still ongoing mental health issues — nipping them in the bud, so to speak. And because they’ve never had to deal with something like this before, they often won’t have the right tools and tips to hand to help them cope. This is true on both the individual level as well as the organisational level, in that managers can have a major impact on creating a supportive and wellbeing-forward culture, but often need to be trained in the right way in order to do so effectively.

When thinking about the importance of consciously taking care of your mental health, think about your physical health. You wouldn’t only eat fruit and veg or make sure you get enough sleep only when you’re ill, right? Indeed, if something was wrong physically, you would notice immediately and react with a lot more urgency — so why not take the same approach with your mental health as well?

Outside of the obvious physical benefits, regular physical activity also provides a host of mental health benefits too. As explained in the Workplace Movement workshop series, these include a lower risk of both dementia and depression, reduced stress and anxiety, increased endorphin release, and improved sleep, confidence, nutrition and metabolism.

While some physical activity is good, more is better (although some is certainly better than none!). According to the UK government’s official guidelines, people should be getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) per week. But even 5 minutes per week is better than doing nothing — everyone has to start somewhere, and there’s still benefits to reap with low levels of exercise as you build up a habit (see graph below). The University of Illinois ran a study on brain activity and exercise in 2016, which found that going for a walk not only helps to clear your head and gives you a break from the screen, but also helps you to concentrate and think clearly when you get back.

There is often an assumption that ‘proper’ physical activity means regularly engaging in high-intensity, difficult workouts — which can be quite off-putting for someone just getting started. Although a regular gym routine or regularly running 5k are both great options, the most important thing is for individuals to find flexible ways of being active that they enjoy and what works for them, and this could be enjoying walking meetings for example.

How Rener Wellbeing supports local and global organisations

No matter where you are on your wellbeing journey, we partner with you to create and implement a bespoke wellbeing strategy that fits your organisation’s culture and addresses your employees’ unique needs.

Over the years, we’ve worked with over 100 public and private organisations, including Deloitte, the NHS, Southwark Council, Sport England, Intertrust Group, and ACS International Schools, touching on physical activity from a holistic wellbeing standpoint.

Our organisational support comes in several different forms. On a high level, we provide workplace wellbeing consulting and strategy development services. For companies that already have an idea of what they need, we also run virtual and in-person holistic wellbeing workshops (i.e. the Workplace Movement series), live guided workouts and mobility sessions.

If you are interested in further workplace wellbeing support, feel free to drop us a line at info@renerwellbeing.com — we’re always happy to help.