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A healthy workforce isn’t a ‘nice to have,’ it makes good business sense. The return on investment is tangible in terms of the correlation with improved productivity and reduced days off.
However, it’s up to business leaders like those attending the MD Club to take the lead on encouraging a healthier, happier and more motivated workforce. The shift that needs to happen will only occur, if it is driven by a change in culture and attitude so that your people have the means to stay well at work.   In short, if employers look after their workforces, their workforces will be motivated to look after themselves and your businesses.

This was a powerful message about the relationship between wellbeing and physical activity in the workplace at the Sheffield Universities’ MD Club’s event on 9th July: The Importance of Wellbeing in the Workplace.
The event was held in conjunction with the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), of which both The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University are a partner. This is a flagship Olympic Legacy project bringing together partners from across the region to increase physical activity across the whole population.
Fittingly, the event took place at the prestigious The English Institute of Sport (EIS), which aims to improve sporting performance through science, medicine, technology and engineering. It has close links with Sheffield Hallam University as a satellite campus and for cutting-edge sports science research.

Three inspiring guest speakers took to the floor, to share a range of industry and academic insights, each one clearly passionate about the benefits of a healthier, more active way of working in the corporate world:

  • David Capper, CEO of Westfield Health is an employer who leads by example, when it comes to wellbeing in the workplace and has been instrumental in securing a pioneering partnership with the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC). He gave a motivating talk into Active Work which enables Westfield Health to deliver, a unique, insight-led corporate health and wellbeing programmes for businesses.
  • Fabio Ciravegna, Professor of Computer Science, the University of Sheffield, showed us how technology can help us put our ambitions for activity into practice with the development of the Active 10 app for Public Health England. Something as simple as a regular, brisk 10-minute walk can reduce the risk of many diseases and improve mental health, yet many adults don’t put in the leg work – that is until Fabio found a way to motivate, measure and challenge them with the app, which at one point became the 7th most downloaded app in the UK.
  • Richard Wright, Executive Director, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce spoke about his passion for making positive change in the Sheffield City Region through the work of the National Centre for Sports & Exercise Medicine (NCSEM). The take up from the Move More initiative to encourage physical activity proves it’s possible to get our city up and literally running. His was a call to arms for the region’s leaders to flex their muscle to promote better, more healthy ways of working.

Indeed, in Sheffield, where the disparities between the healthiest and unhealthiest demographics are some of the widest in the UK, the event highlighted that the City Region has an opportunity to lead the way in creating a healthy workforce. Through its membership and mission, the MD Club, offers an invaluable forum to facilitate achieving such an ambition for greater workforce health, wellbeing and productivity through:

  1. World-class expertise: connecting business and industry innovators with top researchers and academics at both universities who have the insight and specialist knowledge they need.
  2. Outstanding facilities: accessing world-class venues such as the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), the English Institute of Sport (EIS) or the wealth of laboratories and equipment afforded by a city which is home to two highly respected universities. What’s more, as shown by the very existence of the MD Club and its university organisers – both are open for business.
  3. Opportunity to collaborate: opening doors that promote knowledge exchange, enable world-leading partnerships and push boundaries for mutual business and academic benefit – and in this case for the greater good, health and wellbeing of our region’s workforce.

Through this unique combination of expertise, facilities and opportunity, it was outlined that the region was becoming a testbed for developing best practice, with interest from global brands like Google and Adidas. Further, the disparities in wellness between Sheffield postcodes, demonstrate starkly just how much mileage there is for improvement.
To round-off the evening, after their hard day’s work, guests were invited to take part in an interactive physio session with two physios led by Andy Picken, Workplace Health Lead, National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine and a specialist in workplace health and wellbeing.
Written by Lucy
Director of Lucy Harper Communications
– Photography: Mark Howe
MD Club stories
Lucy Harper is a communications consultant leading the MD Club campaign to capture stories about the innovative partnerships between the region’s businesses and Sheffield’s universities – this includes commercial and research partnerships, student placements or graduate recruitment through the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). Please contact Bryony Price on if you are willing to share your story.