The Chinese tech company says the initiative is important for employees’ wellbeing
A Chinese tech company based in Chongqing is forcing its employees to complete 10,000 steps a day as part of their initiative to improve their health and wellbeing, according to a report by the local paper.
“Many of our staff sit in an office all day and sometimes they have to work overtime. Some of them, even those at a young age, are already having health issues such as neck and shoulder problems. We make walking 10,000 steps compulsory so staff can have a healthier life,” said an unnamed official from the company in the South China Morning Post.
The employees’ steps are tracked by a phone app and failure to meet the required number of steps would mean a punishment of 50 to 100 push-ups, though, the company official said nobody has yet been punished since they started the programme.
The company official also said that employees who have an active sports life are exempt from the programme.
One recent hire told the newspaper that HR makes new employees sign up with the fitness tracker on their first day of work and that he was initially shocked by the practice.
“Why should I be asked to walk as long as I finish my job duties?” he said, adding that he now walks to and from work instead of driving just to complete the number of steps required. He also reported that his colleagues now spend their lunch hours going for walks instead of playing computer games.
But while the practice may seem extreme, it does highlight the need for wellness programmes in the workplace.
A recent study done by the University of Hong Kong’s Sau Po Centre on Ageing found that workers are the most sedentary group of people, spending up to 17 hours a day sitting.
Dr Josiah Au Yeung Wang-kee, a specialist in spinal injuries and disorders, said people often think of sitting as resting when in fact it puts twice the amount of pressure on the spine. He suggested stretching or walking around in hourly intervals, or if possible, every 15 minutes
Another study commissioned by Public Health England and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that prolonged sitting can cause a multitude of health problems in workers such as heart disease and cancer, and even die earlier.
“Even if you’re meeting your physical activity guidelines, you cannot undo the risks of prolonged sitting,” said lead study author Gavin Bradley to Mashable. They recommended that workers start with two hours of standing or light activity daily and eventually work their way up to four hours.