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Team building a vital corporate exercise

FUN runs and stair climbs have long been recognised for their health and calorie-burning benefits, but today’s employers have begun to support these activities for reasons that stretch beyond the finish line.

Physical and mental fitness, teamwork and company spirit are all attributes to be encouraged in employees, and corporate challenges are giving employers the perfect forum to promote them.

State West Corporate Challenge coordinator David Meyer, who has been running the Ministry of Sport and Recreation program since 1991, said the benefits to participants in the challenge included enjoyment and improved fitness levels.

“We base our games on having fun – the health and fitness part just comes with that,” Mr Meyer said.

“The focus is on participation, not winning, so everyone of every skill level feels like they can play.”

Each Wednesday and Thursday throughout the year, hundreds of CBD office workers make their way down to the Esplanade at lunchtime to take part in modified versions of sports such as football, touch rugby, croquet and volleyball.

And while the benefits to the participants are obvious, the more subtle benefits to the workplace are just as great.

“Participants will become healthier and fitter, but

the challenge is also good for office morale

and teamwork,” Mr Meyer said.

“And the leadership roles in the teams are not necessarily the same as those in the office. You might have the CEO playing alongside an office junior, and the junior is actually the team captain because they know more about the sport.”

The recent KPMG Consulting Central Park Stair Climb had hundreds of employees working in teams, training together and, on the big day, sharing the excitement of the big event, according to KPMG assistant marketing manager Anita Lindquist.

“Teams really got into the spirit of the day. They trained for weeks and their office community really got behind their project,” Ms Lindquist said.

Stress consultant Robert Gordon agreed and said corporate challenges, or any activity that involved employees working as a team, could only benefit the company.

“In any workplace interpersonal relationships can be a big source of stress … the most significant reason people leave their jobs is because they are dissatisfied with their boss in some way,” Mr Gordon said.

“Anything that bonds employees, gets them communicating and working together can only help interpersonal relationships, therefore reducing stress and benefiting the workplace environment.

“And of course if people are fitter, then they are less susceptible to stress.”

Companies had seen the benefits and were more encouraging of their employees to participate, Mr Meyer said.

“Most of the companies pay their employees’ registration fees … they are really seeing the value in having healthier, fitter and happier employees,” he said

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