Beat the Boss initiative keeps Pladis colleagues healthy at work

Improving the prevention and effective management of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) within the workplace

Pladis, one of the world’s leading snacking companies, is seeing the benefits of working with occupational health physiotherapy partner Connect Health, supporting employees to be fit, healthy and engaged.

Connect Health’s Neil Duff, physiotherapist who works at the Pladis Tollcross site, devised an innovative competition called ‘Beat the Boss’ as part of the MSK (Musculoskeletal) Proactive Initiative.

Neil Duff, Senior Occupational Health Physiotherapist, Connect Health said:

“The ‘Beat the Boss’ initiative involved a series of exercises to test flexibility, balance and grip strength. This project forms part of the 6 hours of proactive work we provide Pladis per week and whilst workplace assessments are important, we needed something to get employees engaged to encourage them to think about their lifestyle and health in general, 40% of absences are related to MSK problems with feet, knees and backs at Pladis. This coupled with an ageing workforce and shift work in a factory environment needs to be proactively managed.”

So far, Connect Health’s support has reduced MSK absence by 50% between 19/06/19 – 24/12/19, but we wanted to keep up the good work and go further.

“I came up with a fun way of using the proactive hours wisely via a competition between employees and bosses to get them a bit more healthy. We use outcome measures in physio, so if you had a hand injury, you’d have a grip strength test before and after treatment. The range of tests were:

  • Grip strength
  • 30 second press up test
  • 30 second squat test
  • 30 second sit to stand test
  • Single leg balance
  • Single leg stork balance
  • Vertical jump test
  • Sit and reach test

Managers did the tests and their scores were circulated to their teams to beat, as well as being up the on the whiteboard.

For the day shift, I set up a pop-up gym, over a couple of afternoons, along the main walkway between the changing rooms, dining rooms and factory entrance. Similarly for the night shift workers, we set up between 7pm-9pm and focused on healthy eating, alcohol intake as well as the ‘Best the boss’ tests.

After a slow start, we soon had people coming over to give it a shot. Then they got their friends involved and started a competition with everyone. After carrying out the exercises, I give them their score, I let them know where they were on national benchmark and if below average, I’d offer exercise and advice sheets.”

Mairi Brighton, Employee Engagement Lead at Pladis said:

We haven’t had any physical/physio challenges across shifts like this for many years (if any!) and it was good to see people getting involved in something interactive and fun. Not so long ago, the only interaction any of us would have had with a physio would be when most of us were already injured and suffering from pain! So our current proactive MSK focus sits within the physical well-being pillar of our wider Health and Well-being strategy and due to the success, some of our other sites across the UK and Ireland are talking about rolling it out.

The initiative was very well received by all and will continue to run again in coming months, adding different challenges and expanding to other sites.

Improving the prevention and effective management of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) within the workplace