Sport at work: a natural ally of CSR
Do you want to improve the well-being, physical and mental health or team spirit of your employees, give them more motivation and all this at a lower cost? No, rest assured, this is not one of those ads that promise you love, glory (and beauty).
You will have understood: the little miracle that allows you to mobilize your troops, to increase their well-being at work but also their health... is... drum roll and fireworks: Sport!
Because sport at work is the future! In fact, you may be behind your competitors who have quickly adopted it...
What's that? Have you been told this before? Have you been told before? Too complicated?
You don't have the space to install equipment? Not to mention the cost...
And sport is good for your health, of course, but it's not for everyone... You risk an accident very quickly... No, you've definitely given up.
Beware, what if you were a little too quick to throw the baby out with the dirty bath water?
Whether for employees or companies, sport at work has many advantages.
Among these, an obvious advantage : sport is part of the CSR (and QWC) approach which is concerned with the well-being of employees.
Sport and CSR are the perfect marriage... without any complexity.
Are you skeptical? No problem, we explain.
Reminder: What is CSR?
CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility or Corporate Social Responsibility
Simply put, CSR is the contribution of companies to sustainable development. It means all the actions implemented by the company respecting and applying the principles of sustainable development.
So health and well-being at work, job satisfaction, social climate, i.e. everything that concerns working conditions.
And this is precisely what will interest us in our objective of considering corporate sport as an obvious lever for CSR .
And the possible actions are quite numerous given the themes of the 3 pillars of CSR:
- The environment: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, recycling, use of renewable energy, working with responsible suppliers and subcontractors, etc.
- Social: health, education, welfare, respect for human rights, etc.
- The economy: support the local economy, buy from local companies or craftsmen, invest locally as often as possible. To be transparent with its investors and customers...
CSR is thus the privileged way for a company to integrate the sustainable development objectives (SDO). Whether through actions to protect the environment or initiatives in the social field, the company now has duties regarding the planet and society.
Note: some CSR rules have become legal obligations.
Officially, CSR is defined by the European Commission as: "the voluntary integration by companies of social and environmental concerns into their business activities and their relations with stakeholders".
In France, the obligation for the employer to ensure the health of employees is also in the Labor Code. Then, there is the PACTE law of 2019 "all French companies without exception, must "take into consideration" environmental and social issues in the management of their activities.
Sport or Physical Activity?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines physical activity as: "any movement of the body produced by the muscles and responsible for an increase in energy expenditure greater than the energy expenditure at rest".
Sport and exercise are therefore subparts of physical activity.
Physical exercise includes the tasks of daily life: cleaning, gardening, shopping, physical work, cycling, walking, stair climbing. So lifting arms, climbing stairs, carrying shopping bags or cleaning the house are all part of physical activity.
It is practiced without equipment, rules, or the notion of competition.
What about at work? Strengthening muscles, badminton or yoga at lunch time, etc.
On the other hand, if sport is a Physical Activity (PA), not all physical activities are sport. Whether individual or collective, sport is a discipline and a physical activity codified by rules that is often practiced with the objective of performance or competition.
It is therefore necessary to distinguish between physical activity and sport (PSA) or sport at work, which is recommended, and intensive and competitive sport that we imagine when we mention the word sport. It is necessary that all employees can practice physical activities at work whatever their level of sport and without being discouraged by a distorted image.
Sport in the workplace? The account is not there:
What is the situation?
According to the World Health Organization(WHO), one in four adults lacks exercise.
The WHO therefore recommends that adults engage in 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.
(You'll tell me... Yes, very well... Let everyone take responsibility and practice sports on their own time. Not so simple!)
Problem: being physically active takes time!
Indeed, with work, car trips, family life, etc... Employees have little or no time to devote to it.
(Are we talking about that monthly or yearly gym membership that was never really used?)
The National Academy of Medicine judges that "The digital era has increased the time spent working in a seated position, with medical consequences of primary importance. "(Professor Xavier Bigard).
This has harmful consequences for health: poor positioning, back pain, neck pain and poor blood circulation. The famous Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD), responsible for 87% of cases of occupational disease.
Companies then experience significant productivity losses due to these health concerns.
If you want to reduce or prevent the appearance of these problems, regular practice of sports or physical activities seems to be the ideal solution... Sport would therefore be a natural ally of CSR in your company.
One might expect a massive adoption of sport at work... But this is far from being the case: there is a real gap between employees' expectations and the reality in the company .
To go further :
The proof by the numbers
👉 Physical inactivity or sedentary lifestyle would even be one of the first causes of mortality in developed countries ( up to 5 million deaths per year could be avoided if the population was more active).
👉 80% of workers have a sedentary activity at work. And with the rise of telecommuting, the situation has worsened.
👉 A Santé Publique France report (2020) indicates that sports practice is lowest between the ages of 25 and 40 due to lack of time.
👉 81% of employees believe that well-being is a priority issue for companies (IFOP, 2020)
👉 53% want the employer to deploy dedicated health and wellness programs in the workplace (Employee Preference Barometer, 2021).
👉 Only 7% of employees participate in a sports activity at work(Harris Interactive 2017)
👉 75% of leaders say they do not offer physical activity or even consider it(Vitality, Sport & Entreprise Barometer by Generali and OpinionWay 2018)
👉 For 42% of employees, the priority in CSR is the improvement of working conditions and nearly one in two employees are disappointed with the company's commitment on this subject (OpinionWay & Gymlib survey: Sport in companies: what do the French expect)
There are a number of reasons for this situation...
- On the employer's side: one can quickly imagine all the difficulties in accessing sports facilities, the impossible budget, the fear of being held responsible in case of an accident...
- Employee side: Sport is considered as a leisure activity and therefore belongs to the private sphere...
Another reason is the lack of information from companies on the technical feasibility or financing of a project around sport in companies.
However... It's easier than you think.
There are, in fact, several internal institutions to finance a sports project: works council and social and economic committee (CSE), internal sports associations in the company, etc. can negotiate partnerships with a gym or a sports club...
It is even, under conditionsexempted of social contributions (law of November 12, 2020).
Some legal details:
👉 "Fee reductions granted for the practice of sports activities are exempt from social security contributions, whether they are reductions directly borne by the CSE or the total or partial reimbursement of the sums paid by the employee upon presentation of the receipt."
👉 "The amount of the benefit constituted by the financing by the employer of physical and sports activities is exempt, within the annual limit of 5% of the monthly value of the Social Security ceiling multiplied by the number of employees of the company."
Parliamentarians have even decided, on the occasion of the adoption of a law aimed at democratizing sport in France, to allow companies to include sport in their raison d'être (law of March 2, 2022)
All the conditions are therefore in place to facilitate and encourage companies to adopt an approach to sport at work. An approach that is in line with CSR.
Sport feeds and strengthens CSR
As we have seen, CSR motivates companies to establish better working conditions, to have a positive impact on society and to respect the environment.
And if we look more specifically at its social component, it includes multiple possibilities for action, including aspects of quality of life at work (Q WL): CSR can then act on health and well-being at work, job satisfaction, social climate, etc.
Therefore, companies are looking for and proposing solutions, including physical activity and sports. Several studies now show the positive impact of PSA on health, well-being and improved working conditions.
Sport is therefore an obvious part of the CSR/QHV approach.
Encouraging the practice of sports by employees who wish to do so is a real lever to bring quality of life, well-being and balance to employees in the company. It is also an opportunity to rely on the values conveyed by sports: team cohesion, benevolence, diversity and inclusion.
Which actors should be mobilized to adopt sport at work or physical and sports activities in the company?
The human resources department (HR) as well as the CSE have an important role to play in the effective implementation of such an approach in collaboration with managers and management.
The benefits of sport at work
More corporate sports for :
- More health:
Studies have shown that physical activity is essential for mental balance, so practicing sports improves mental, physical and emotional health
Physical activity has recognized effects on the prevention of chronic diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular diseases...) and work-related pathologies, from lumbago to burn-out. It also reduces the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).
Regular physical activity has other benefits: it reduces the risk of being overweight or sedentary (some people sit at the office for at least 7 hours a day).
And then, sport at work reduces the stress of the employees, allows to decompress, to improve its concentration and to reduce the risks of Alzheimer's disease. Indeed, during the effort, the brain releases soothing hormones allowing the individual to better manage the pressure and his stress level.
The Goodwill Managementstudy (2015) showed other benefits: an increase in life expectancy of 3 years and between 5 and 7% savings on employee health care expenses.
- More motivation:
Playing sports reduces absenteeism by 30-40% (2017 British study)
Up to 12% gain in productivity for the employee (Health Canada study: for an employee who practices at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day compared to sedentary colleagues)
- More confidence:
A sports activity helps to develop certain qualities, such as autonomy, decision-making and adaptability. It is a solution to develop a sense of leadership, because a sports employee learns to surpass himself and to reach his objectives.
- More group cohesion:
Employees who are motivated and feel good about themselves develop better relationships with their colleagues and better team cohesion: 80% say they have better relationships with their colleagues thanks to sport and 77% say that sport in the company helps to motivate teams (Cisco and Ipsos study).
Encouraging sports activities also reinforces the culture of a company and the values it advocates, especially by taking part in meaningful events or competitions for great causes or public utility associations...
These actions can then foster the spirit of integration and the sense of belonging of your employees.
Numerous advantages for companies
More than 8 out of 10 executives who have adopted corporate sports report seeing:
- An improvement in the well-being of their employees (89%),
- That it facilitates integration into the company (87%),
- Team building (85%),
- Better stress management (80%)
- That it develops a sense of belonging to the company (80%).
(Barometer "Vitality, Sport and Business" conducted by Generali and Opinionway in 2018)
Sport in the workplace promotes
- Falling absenteeism:
You can save money. Who is not sensitive to this in this period of post health crisis? Sport allows to remotivate the employees and thus to strongly decrease the absenteeism .
The proof is in the numbers:
👉 A demotivated employee is a less productive employee and more easily absent or sick which would cost 14310€ per year(IBET 2020 Study)
The practice of a PSA in the workplace is beneficial for employers and public spending:
👉 When the employee practices a PSA regularly, absenteeism (which costs 60 billion euros/year) would be reduced by 5.6% and health expenses by more than 300 euros per year (Medef 2015 study)
👉 Sport at work is remotivating and, on the contrary, lowers the rate of work-related accidents and absenteeism by 30 to 40%, which for the company, amounts to a saving of 7 to 9% on an employee's annual health costs (Goodwill-management study).
Physical activity quickly increases the productivity of a company and its teams.
Thanks to it, the net profitability of an organization increases by 1% to 4% and each employee improves his productivity by 6% to 9% (Goodwill-management study).
Even better, according to a study conducted by the Medef and the CNOSF, employees who practice a sport activity in the company would improve their productivity up to 14% on average...
- Attractiveness and involvement:
Sport appears to be a means of attracting new talent, motivating them and retaining them.
Indeed, candidates are increasingly attentive to certain criteria: employees give companies an average score of 7.7/10 if they offer them sports activities, as opposed to 6/10 if they do not (Market Audit study).
A CSR employer will therefore have a better chance of attracting candidates, especially in penurious sectors. Sport in the workplace therefore represents an obvious competitive advantage to enhance the image of companies.
A strong CSR approach encourages the involvement of employees, who are proud to work for a responsible company that cares about their well-being. 67% of Millenials want to stay with a company based on its sports offer .
In addition, 51% of executives consider that corporate sport is a real means of external communication that contributes to enhancing the employer brand.
In short, sport at work allows to convey a dynamic, modern and healthy image, contributing to increase the attractiveness of a company. So go for it!
Now you have all the arguments you need to think about your CSR approach and adopt sport at work or physical activities as a natural ally in your strategy.
As you can see, the advantages are numerous and there is no real difficulty in finding the right sports formula for your employees or your possibilities in terms of budget or space.
You can imagine beautiful images of happy, rejuvenated employees and enjoy a company where employees have the joy of living thanks to your decision.
See you soon and thank you for your future confidence...