Switched on businesses are increasingly recognising the importance of encouraging staff to step away from the desk and get active. These three corporates are throwing their weight behind this year’s Townsville Running Festival and taking their employees along for the ride. The result to-date? Improved relationships with fellow staff (banter included), amplified energy and the release of several suppressed competitive streaks. Look out!
Staff members participating: 6
Associate Lucia Taylor says this is the first year the firm has sponsored the Corporate Challenge and they were excited to be part of the well-known Townsville event. “Tony Hocking, our Senior Associate, was the race organiser for many years and has been a long time member of the Townsville Road Runners, so he’s encouraged and supported us in this venture,” says Lucia. “So far we have six runners from our office who have taken up the challenge and hope to enter at least two teams in the race, plus a number of other staff members are also entering some of the other events.”
Lucia herself is no stranger to the festival, with her two boys entering the 5km event the past two years, last year her eldest son Jack suiting up as a Zebra, which caused a few giggles on the run.
There has also been plenty of banter at work with the air of friendly competition circulating and tips being exchanged at staff meetings; resulting in one staff member driving 10km to get the distance firm in her mind. “She couldn’t believe how long it was so has started training now,” says Lucia (laughs). “It’s a new challenge for most people, as we don’t have many dedicated runners. The exceptions are Tony Hocking and our director Ken Taylor who ran his first half marathon last year and is running his first full marathon on the Gold Coast in July. He has certainly stepped up his training and is hoping to run the half marathon in the Townsville Running Festival, so he’s leading the charge.”
Purcell Taylor views promoting a healthy workplace as a must, in the past participating in the TP Human Capital Corporate Teams event at the Townsville Triathlon Festival and corporate outrigging days: “We consider it a priority in our workplace given the constant stresses placed upon our employees and we often promote causes which assist our staff to consider healthier options and regular exercise,” says Lucia. “At the end of the day, ‘happy staff, happy life’.”
Staff members participating: 40
Maclean Partners not only spruiks ‘work life balance’, but the Aitkenvale-based chartered accountancy firm also puts its money where its mouth is. “The term ‘work life balance’ is tossed around a bit, but if you drill down to a lot of businesses they don’t actually have anything in place to action it,” partner John Kerrisk says.
“One of the things we instigated about 15 years ago is a Friday finish of 1.30pm. We start earlier Monday through Friday, but finishing up earlier at the end of the week gives people the chance to go away and get things done. If you have a more balanced view on life, then things run more smoothly at work.”
And a lot of that has to do with getting active. John did his first marathon last year at the Townsville Running Festival, recruiting staff members to join him in training, and this year the business has come on-board as a corporate sponsor of the event.
“A 5km run is easy to get people involved in,” John says, “We may need to twist their arms, but most are pretty keen to give it a shot. We are proud to say that Rachael McCully [retired Townsville Fire captain] has been appointed as our corporate ambassador for 2015/16 and is going to be running as part of our team, so having her on board is a bit of a coup.”
There has been a lot of inter-office banter since the 5km Corporate Challenge was presented, and now the firm is trying to get other corporates involved for some inter-business rivalry. “It’s all about encouraging staff members to be more active and get out of their comfort zone, because – if you have a healthy workforce – they are more enthusiastic, vibrant and a more balanced person,” John says.
“At the moment there’s a murmur of excitement about what we are going to do, particularly with Rachael’s involvement. We are definitely planning to get some training groups together soon based on where people live – so it’s easy to do after work – and have a little competition amongst ourselves. Plus Mackey Wales Law also gives us a bit of cheek when we enter our corporate teams in the Townsville Triathlon Festival, so we are going to put a bit of a challenge out to their runners too.”
The involvement in the Running Festival also ties in nicely to the firm’s 90-Day Business Challenge that starts in July, which is about getting fit and evolving in a business sense.
Staff numbers participating: 40
Last year Tracey O’Shea convinced her work colleague Debbie Bailey to do the 10km run at the Townsville Running Festival. Having previously only completed the 5km fun run, they both enjoyed the challenge, with Debbie going on to record a PB. This year Tracey will be doing the 5km Corporate Challenge with other workmates while Debbie will be stepping it up to improve her time:
“Last year a few staff members including myself were ‘convinced’ to sign up for the 10km run,” Debbie says. “I couldn’t get out of it – registrations had already been sent/accepted (laughs). To my surprise I completed the course and I enjoyed every minute, registering a PB of 1hr 19min. The entertainment along the way was a welcome distraction and the course marshals were extremely encouraging, especially the ‘champagne breakfast’ happening on the Esplanade [the Hash House Harriers’ annual gathering near Jezzine].”
Last year Queensland Country Health Fund fielded about 40 staff members and the Aitkenvale-based health fund hopes to do the same this year, and will be supporting the iconic annual event as the naming sponsor of the Corporate Challenge.
Staff have already started their training and the cheeky comments have begun. Tracey and another team member are doing post-work sessions in the health fund’s new cardio room, while Debbie has recruited her eldest daughter as her training buddy, who has her registering for all sorts of events such as Outer Limits’ trail runs and the Rydweld Porcupine Gorge Challenge in the lead up to August. She says it’s crucial to set active goals outside work to keep motivated and that workplaces need to support staff in their activity ventures.
“When you work in an office all day it is very important to promote and encourage exercise and healthy choices for your staff’s wellbeing,” she says. “Even though I am reasonably active outside of work, ‘MyFitnessPal’ rates me as ‘sedentary’ because I sit for so long each day at work.
“I would definitely encourage other businesses to get involved by entering teams in the corporate challenge: It’s a fantastic community event and is a great way for staff to interact with each other outside of work.”
Fire-up your workmates and sign-up for the Queensland Country Health Fund 5km Corporate Challenge. Whether you run or walk it, it doesn’t matter – just give it a go to support a fantastic cause, get active and have some fun with the people you work with. It’s just $150 for up to 10 people and you get a free training plan. Registrations for the Townsville Running Festival are open here.