Healthy and happy employees create a win-win situation

Ballast Nedam wants healthy employees and tries to encourage that as an employer. Various vitality programmes were therefore running at various business units in 2023. Employees tell us what it looked like for them and what the results were.

Every Tuesday, around 4 PM, corporate recruiter Mara de Jonge of Ballast Nedam West swaps her office clothes for sportswear. With about 20 colleagues, she goes outside for an intense hour-long workout. Doing squats, jumping jacks, lunges, lifting weights or running laps with different exercises. Led by personal trainer Cheryl, an entire strength and conditioning programme is completed. "Super fun," she thinks. "It's a good way to end the day healthy. You go home tired and fulfilled afterwards."

Week of Vitality

This bootcamp took place for the first time in October 2023, as part of the previously held Week of Vitality. Initiator Marleen van de Wetering from HR: "I was inspired by my colleagues Nathalie Lambers and Anouk Mook, from our sister companies Laudy and Heddes. We held a vitality week at the same time, with each business unit having its own version." All Ballast Nedam West and Heddes employees received a newsletter every day for a week, with information on mental health, physical health, work attitude and recipes for healthy meals, among other things.

Posters were also put up and a vitality calendar was introduced. This calendar dovetailed with existing external initiatives, such as International Sleep Day and Bike to Work Day. Marleen: "Sufficient exercise is important for everyone, but especially for people with office jobs. If we are not careful, we get in the car in the morning, sit at our desk all day and drive home at the end of the day to plop down on the couch." So with an e-mail message, Marleen alerted all colleagues to the Bike to Work Day. She attached the request to take a picture of it and post it on social media. "I was quite late with that message, but still several colleagues posted. That really made me happy. Also because it allowed us to immediately draw attention to Ballast Nedam's Bicycle Private Plan. That scheme cuts both ways, as cycling is good for your health as well as the environment."

Words and deeds

Two 'Boost Your Flow' sessions also took place as part of Vitality Week. These workshops focused on awareness around fitness at work: taking the stairs instead of the lift, getting your own coffee so you have a walk, and so on. How did colleagues react to the overall vitality package? "Positive," Marleen answers. "For example, the newsletters led to certain issues being really discussed for the first time, such as work-life balance and sports. Everyone runs into the same practical problems. No energy to exercise, too little time to cook healthy meals. Now we suddenly asked each other the question: what do you do about exercise? It was like breaking a taboo, but in an approachable and relaxed way. Then, when you actually go to a bootcamp together, you turn those words into action together, too."

Struggling together

Of the 40 employees at the Ballast Nedam West office, about half participate in the weekly bootcamps. Good for health, of course. But it's more than that, Mara believes. "You are working out together with your colleagues. That creates a bond. It was already there, but it has taken on a different dynamic because of this. The next day, we ask each other who has sore muscles, and laugh about the situations we experienced during training. This facilitates communication, even in the context of work. It definitely has a positive impact."

A company that makes this possible for its employees clearly has their best interests at heart, according to Mara. "These bootcamps make you feel better physically and mentally. You are more comfortable in your own skin, both your private life and in terms of work. And the latter, of course, benefits the company. If employees are fit, it leads to less absenteeism and more productivity." In 2024, Ballast Nedam West is organising another Vitality Week, Marleen now knows. "We may want to give it a bit more depth, but we are still thinking about that at the moment." And the bootcamps? "Those ran as a pilot until the end of 2023. Then we evaluated them, and decided to continue them in the new year. Extended due to success, in other words!"

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