Sickness absence currently costs UK businesses an estimated £29 billion each year. In addition to this, the cost to our society and economy of inactivity and obesity is reported to be staggering a £27 billion per annum.2 New incentives, therefore, which introduce ways to significantly reduce these colossal statistics should not be ignored and employers can do more to ensure that they are investing in their number one asset; healthier, happier and more productive staff.
A study carried out by the YMCA revealed that exercise makes you happier. Researchers surveyed 1,000 UK adults on a variety of factors affecting wellbeing, such as feeling cheerful and being optimistic about the future, and then analysed the relationship between their answers and their lifestyle. The results showed that those living a physically active lifestyle had a wellbeing score that is 32 per cent higher than those with inactive lifestyles.
Cycling’s proven health benefits - both physical and mental - is a popular topic of discussion within the national press, with new statistics constantly emerging on how cycling short distances regularly can further improve general health and wellbeing. The most recent study, showing that ‘pedal power’ can help heart disease and cancer, is enough to motivate the masses to mount their bikes and do something about the state of health in the UK.
HR Magazine recently published that 33 per cent of employers said that cyclists are more productive at work, while 44 per cent described those who cycle as being more efficient and 89 per cent said that those who cycle to work were more energised throughout the day.
As well as the considerable health benefits, cycling also plays an important part as it ‘co-benefits’ in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, conservation of land, air pollution, noise as well as traffic congestion – which contributes to economic prosperity. Cycling 10km each way to work would save an estimated 1,500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each year, the Dept. of Transport and Main Roads suggests.
Cue the launch of Free2Cycle, a new behavioural change initiative that provides the means for employers to support their staff cycling to work. Providing bikes for free and encouraging employees to use them, Free2Cycle aims to unlock an estimated 7 million new cyclists to the UK cycling community.
Users of Free2Cycle acquire bikes in exchange for ‘pedal power’, therefore effectively for free as no money is exchanged. Employers, whose duty it is to care for the wellbeing of their staff, contribute to the cost of the bike in monthly payments and in turn reap a return of approximately £10 for every £1 they contribute. By providing bikes to employees and encouraging as well as rewarding their progress of cycling to work, Free2Cycle will inspire more people in Britain to adjust their lifestyle and become more active.