Taking steps to a happier, healthier workforce

Our Walk at Work Award is helping Scottish employers find new and exciting ways to support their staff to live active working lifestyles. One organisation shares their experience of taking part in the scheme, and the benefits it has brought.

Staff at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission took part in our Walk at Work Award.

The Walk at Work Award is an accreditation scheme administered here at Paths for All. Launched in 2018 we have supported Scottish employers to get active in and around the working day. For those employers taking part, the scheme is an opportunity to explore new travel behaviours in the workplace.

Embedding physical activity, such as walking or cycling, into workplace culture can provide benefits for both employees and the employer. For example, staying active can increase focus, improves productivity, reduces sick days, and benefits general physical and mental wellbeing. Employers encouraging flexible working patterns to accommodate physical activity foster trust, loyalty, and happiness in their teams.

Additionally, choosing to be active through the working day replaces car journeys, which improves air quality, reduces congestion, and tackles harmful carbon emissions in line with Scotland’s 2045 net-zero commitments.

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), an Edinburgh-based employer, help with unresolved disputes between consumers and lawyers. SLCC are an independent body and their service is free. In 2021/22, SLCC were awarded a Walk at Work Award accreditation.

Neil Burn, Human Resources Advisor at Scottish Legal Complaints Commissions, shares with us how his workplace has taken positive steps to encourage active lifestyles in the workplace.

What inspired you to take part in our Walk at Word Award?

Over the years we have done a lot to support our employees maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We have changed our working times, extending flexible working, introduced standing desks, created an active club and supported charity fundraising through active challenges. Most of this was driven by our staff team. With all this in mind we wanted to recognise the work of our staff team by applying for the Walk at Work Award.

How did you encourage and promote active travelling and walking within your organisation?

Many of our employees lead active lifestyles, however, during the pandemic it became more apparent to us that our staff’s wellbeing needed to be supported. Therefore, we started our active club, and this encouraged colleagues to remain active in ways they enjoyed. We promoted the benefits of walking, and the daily “fake commute” – walking round the block before and after their working day to change mindset between work and leisure. Due to extending our working day, this allowed staff to work their hours when it suited them, which supported them to exercise during the ‘working day’.

Alongside these positive additions, we also ran various challenges for our staff charity. Over the past two years, we’ve had colleagues take part in the SAMH virtual Stomp, the Kiltwalk, the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, cycling the North Coast 500 and climb Ben Nevis.

Members of staff at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

Do you have examples of how active travel and walking in the workplace has benefitted your organisation and your employees?

Many of our employees have commented on how they have enjoyed the flexibility in their working day to be able to exercise or take a break away from the desks. Some of the comments we received from our staff include:

“I really enjoyed being able to go for a run during the morning as opposed to before work. This was especially welcome during the winter months when the ground was icy early in the morning.” – Neil 

“I really enjoyed the challenge Ben Nevis gave me, as it meant I had to go out training at the weekends and it pushed me to get moving throughout the day, instead of just sitting at my desk. It has also kept me motivated to continue my fitness journey too.” – Gemma

“I find that I’m more likely to sit still for longer periods when working from home, so I’ve been using a standing desk for over two years now to break up my sitting time. Being able to vary my workstation throughout the day helps me to be more conscious of my posture and the need to keep moving and has helped to reduce the stiffness and aches and pains that I used to get at the end of the day. It is great that I can now benefit from using the standing desks and our swiss ball in the office too.” – Laura

How is the organisation encouraging active travel, walking and activity in the workplace?

We are always looking to encourage our team to remain active. We are implementing more standing desks and additional workspaces for staff to move away from their desks. We are also running walks at lunch to encourage colleagues to get fresh air during lunch breaks. Our staff team do seem to like a challenge, especially when it comes to raising money for our staff charity, so we expect more movement throughout the day to continue.

Sarah Turner, our Workplaces Development Officer who manages the Award scheme said,

Our Work at Work Award is an exciting venture for employers, big or small to look at new ways of working and travelling. The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission have shown dedication to their involvement in the Award, challenging those embedded practices we see in many workplaces. New ways of working can foster new ideas, positive team dynamics and increase productivity. And of course, staying active has huge benefits to health and wellbeing.

We hope by sharing the success of involvement in the Award scheme will encourage other employers to take part.

We encourage any Scottish employer looking to encourage their employees to live happier, healthier lifestyles to get in touch with us here.

To find out more about the Walk at Work Award, click here.