I had the good fortune in my early adult life to be in the Army. One of the perks in the Army is that you are paid to work-out every day. It was part of your role description and responsibility. An unfit soldier will put himself and his platoon at risk. I therefore had the pleasure and pain both at West Point and later active duty to exercise on a regular basis. Sometimes, it was exhilarating like singing cadence at the top of your lungs while on a battalion run. Other times brutal, such as the yearly Obstacle Course administered by the Department with a Heart at West Point. All of it good, necessary and part of your job description!
This all seemed to change when I left the Army and joined the consulting world. Early morning calls replaced morning PT. Long hours on planes and in front of a desk slinging code took a toll on my health. It seemed in my mind at the time that fitness and taking care of myself was no longer part of my job description or even opposed to it. I and companies at that time did not yet see the impact of wellness on work. The drive for more billable hours and seemingly higher productivity dominated. This corporate culture (or my take on it) resulted in weight gain, lost health, and a decline in productivity over time.
Luckily the corporate culture and my thought processes have recently changed. Corporate wellness programs, such as Accenture’s Truly Human Campaign are now focused on fitness and the human aspects of work. To read about this campaign, look at my prior blog here: https://weightlossleadership.com/2018/09/04/five-accenture-wellness-programs-that-saved-my-life/
Like the Army, corporations have now come to realize that being fit is a necessary part of the job. Indeed, wellness is almost as important to the survival and strength of the company as it is to an Army platoon. Here are three reasons why:
- Improves Decision Making. The enemy of all good decisions is stress. Exercise and fitness help relieve stress and keep away fatigue. A simple 20-minute walk will provide a few minutes to clear your mind, allowing you to focus on the problem on hand. Better yet, get up and walk around the office when taking a phone call meeting when things get heated. The simple step of standing up will shake off the cobwebs that tend to collect during back to back calls.
- Builds Comradery. The best thing about the Army was the comradery. One way it was built was through morning PT. While I am not advocating each company go on a company run each morning, I am recommending a common fitness program like Accenture Active. This program has really helped me to know my colleagues better through fitness events (MS 150, Annual Veterans Walk, etc.) and programs (active rewards programs, Fitbit competition). One example was a random competition that I and some colleagues engaged in on one Saturday. One of my friends started a Fitbit weekend competition and although we were all in different states, we kept apprised with the others’ progress. We all engaged in friendly and sometimes hilarious banter through the Fitbit app as we each surpassed 10 miles.
- Cuts Down on Sick Days. Staying fit helps to keep you out of the doctor’s office and in yours during working hours. Research conducted at Brigham Young University, the Center for Health Research at Healthways and the Health Enhancement Research Organization, suggests unhealthy eating is linked with a 66% increased risk of loss of productivity while lack of exercise is associated with a 50% increase risk of low productivity. My experience bears this out. Before returning to fitness, I was habitually hit with bronchitis and, at least twice a year, pneumonia. Both resulted in sick days and loss of productivity when I worked through it. Since returning to my target weight in Nov. 2015, I have had neither bronchitis or pneumonia. Not sure how many days have been saved but approximate it as at least a week a year. And, an increase of productivity on those days that I should have been recovering and drove through and worked despite my illness.
These are just the top three reasons why you should consider staying fit as part of your role description as a consultant. Increased productivity, esprit de corps and better decisions are just three reasons exercise is an imperative in the working world. Let me close with a cadence I wrote for my team as we run from one project to another:
Everywhere we go,
people want to know,
who we are,
where we come from,
so, we tell them,
we are Accenture,
Pivot Wise Accenture,
Future forward Accenture,
focus on the human Accenture.