Securing title partnership with Mercer for Surrey’s largest half marathon has given aat-events an unrivalled opportunity to better understand CSR and present a viable solution for Surrey’s workforces to adopt a proactive approach to employee health and wellbeing.

Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement, and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth, and performance of their most vital asset – their people.

According to Mercer: “British employers are losing on average 27.5 days of productive time per employee each year as staff take time off sick and underperform in the office as a result of ill-health (presenteeism). This is equivalent to each worker losing more than an entire working month of productive time annually. When translated into monetary terms, the combination of this absence and presenteeism is costing the UK economy £73 billion a year in lost productivity.”

Results from a survey aat-events conducted in May echoes that local companies need to do more to address the importance of health and wellness within the workplace. From a sample of 500 people, 49.3% of those surveyed ran the Surrey Half Marathon alone; a mere 3% ran with colleagues. However, echoing the results of numerous studies into the effects of group settings on engaging in / maintaining regular exercise routines, 75% agreed that they would / consider running with colleagues and 38% said that they would be encouraged to take part “if everyone else was doing it”.  Distressingly, many reported that they are not encouraged to engage in physical activity by their workplace.

These results suggest that the demand from employees for support from their employers is present, but businesses need activating, so we have presented them with a viable opportunity – “the workplace challenge” – to encourage employees to lead healthier lifestyles across a prolonged period of time as they train for and complete a running race. Businesses of all shapes and sizes are invited to enter a team of 3 employees, contractors, competitors etc into the half marathon or 5km. Even self-employed workers are encouraged to take part – individuals working in co-share office spaces like Collaborate in Woking have banded together to create teams. The team aspect of the challenge adds to demand for the number of people required (encourages participation), but also doubles as an extracurricular team-building exercise. The team who crosses the finish line in the lowest combined time are declared the winners and receive a trophy to keep.

All participants get access to FREE beginner, intermediate, advanced or elite training plans written by a local running and physio academy, so everyone is welcome to join in no matter their ability. In line with the event’s environmental policy, participants do not receive mass-produced finisher’s t-shirts supplied from overseas (contrary to what has become expected at sports events) but this is without compromise to the value of the event. Instead, participants get free photos, as well as free post-race yoga, massage and other more sustainable goodies at the finish line.

The workplace challenge has led to healthy competition and camaraderie amongst colleagues, within departments and amongst competitors. Businesses have used the challenge as an opportunity to raise money for charity, and in some cases has led to the creation of lunch-time or after work run clubs – which we’re proud to report that even after the race are still in operation. Employees who participated in the challenge reported feelings of increased self-efficacy, stronger bonds between workmates, improved well-being and mental health and desire to participate in future challenge events.