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Strengthening Employee Engagement…and Abs

MID-DAY EXERCISES IMPROVE MOVEMENT, ENERGIZE WORKERS

By Laura Muhlstein, Director of Human Resources

March 14, 2013

MMA is building on its effort to improve employee wellbeing by adding an emphasis on increasing movement during the workday. While our business requires people to spend significant time using computers and in meetings, MMA doesn’t think this means employees need to—or ought to—sit for eight hours every day.

Employees participate in stretching exercises designed to improve improve wellbeing through greater movement.In late 2012, a group of MMA employees volunteered to participate in functional movement screening (FMS). Facilitated by our internal Employer Services group, the FMS established a baseline score for each participant, identifying movement limitations and asymmetries – issues that can cause future injuries or negatively affect normal daily activity. Employees received individual reports, and MMA received an aggregate summary that identified three key issues within the group – poor balance, core strength and limited shoulder mobility.

As a follow-up to the screening, MMA introduced daily 10-minute stretch breaks in January. The early afternoon break consists of corrective exercises designed to improve those identified key issues: Balance, core strength and shoulder mobility. All employees are invited to participate, and you’re likely to find several people participating on any given day.

In a 2012 Forbes article, Dr. Jack Groppel, sports scientist and co-founder of the Human Performance Institute, states that interspersing short movements and exercises throughout the workday can boost employee energy, engagement, and efficiency. We’re finding that to be true at MMA. In addition to employees reporting improved balance and mobility, regular participants comment on the difference the breaks make in their afternoon energy levels. One employee said, “The impact of the ten minute stretch is unbelievable. It makes a huge difference in my day. Everyone thinks they are ‘too busy’ to attend, but once you go, you realize the ten minutes or less is worth it and you will be more productive after.”

Later this year, the volunteer group will complete another screening and compare these scores against their original benchmarks to determine the effectiveness of the corrective exercises. In the meantime, the 10-minute stretch breaks positively influence employees’ social and career wellbeing, allowing an opportunity to laugh, to talk, and to build relationships away from their desks.