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What our recent research into employee wellbeing reveals for the education sector

By Angela Knox | Jan 7, 2022

As outlined in a previous blog we recently worked with the University of Essex on a research study into how we could help participants move more and eat better during the work week by using our wellbeing platform.

We found that many of the elements revealed in the study resonated with users of our platform working in the higher education sector, and that there is a common thread between education and public sector in terms of needs and how they can be met.

The work style and age profile of these sectors is similar, with work environments and patterns common to both - sedentary behaviour being a particular issue.

When we started developing our platform a few years ago, we worked with a team of academics, including some from sports science who have a particular interest in breaking up sedentary time at work.  

So this aspect paired with the nutritional element are the 2 areas which the study focused on - although many of the participants also benefited from using the other parts of our platform such as mental health/mindfulness, sleep, and financial wellbeing.

Breaking things up into bitesize chunks

Using the combination of short sharp exercise routines which were shown via our video content, paired with the use of the simple recipes in our nutrition and recipe module generated positive results - here is an extract from one of our interviewees:

“Lockdown was really, really bad. I really needed something to kind of give me a bit of focus. So, I found the suggestions for recipes and exercises you can do really useful because it was a prompt and it made me plan some time in, sort of every hour or so to think, right, couple of minutes’ break now between tasks. I can go and do one of the exercises or listen to some of the other videos and podcasts and things on the site. For me it was a motivator to know these things were coming in and a reminder to keep doing it.  I did go off and tell everybody that I could that I think you all should sign up for this because it's been really, really handy!”

So by just following non-extreme guidelines which are designed to be followed through into daily life, it was possible to help people to make an impact on their health, without too much real effort.

Making the process easy and the experience enjoyable was how we built the platform - so it’s more of a personal wellbeing adventure playground than a daily chore.  So easy to follow, great looking videos, that are well produced and with plenty of variety was an important element that certainly resonated in this interviewee’s quote:

“So for me obviously having the videos rather than just being text was good. If you're asking me to rate them in terms of how useful I think they could be, then I'd be rating quite high. It looked professional, it looked like it was set up and had time being put into it. It hadn’t been just stitched together.”

Then there is the aspect of making things achievable, so that you don’t have to be a fitness nut to get benefit from the process.  These comments illustrate the point perfectly:

“Exercises that Instagram models put out always make me feel worse about myself because I'm like, I could never do it. But then I watched the videos and they look like actually something that I could physically do. So I guess that was a big highlight for me because they didn’t make me feel bad about myself and my abilities.”

Everyone likes a bit of competition and an incentive, and as we have gamification built into the platform with digital awards and a leaderboard, it was good to see that this was having an impact on the users who like to challenge themselves alongside their colleagues:

“On the leaderboard, I was second, for ages, and I didn't know how close I must be to being first. The rest of our team are quite competitive as well, so each day they were going, “so what number are you on today, have you not got to first place yet?” It is nice to see who else is on there and what they're doing, but yeah that was our, our chat for the week on Teams: ‘what position has my friend finished the day at?’ ”

So plenty of conclusions to be drawn from this research exercise.  If you would like to read our full study report, send an email to: enquiries@keepfiteatfit.com with the subject line "UKRI report".

 

Angela Knox

Angela Knox

I am a co-founder and director of Keep Fit Eat Fit Wellbeing Ltd and have come from a business and marketing background over many years, with a particular interest in everything to do with health, fitness and overall wellbeing. Having worked in offices for decades, I know the pitfalls of too much sitting at a desk, the challenges of fitting the gym around other commitments, and all the issues addressed within our website. The personal experiences of me and my partner Mark were the original inspiration for the concept of this website. Enjoy!