Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett

Barbadian employers are being encouraged to implement fitness programmes for their staff in an effort to stave off the increasing threat of chronic diseases.

This call came from Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett while addressing the 15th anniversary award celebrations for Little League Gym at the Dining Club, Manor Lodge, last weekend.

Mr. Blackett pointed out that changes in the Barbadian lifestyle had made persons prone to these diseases, which were no longer associated with the elderly, but had become a serious problem for all.  “Now we are battling with increasing problems of juvenile diabetes and hypertension among the very young…these problems pose a very real threat to our workforce and to our levels of productivity.  An unhealthy workforce can hardly be a productive workforce,” the Minister opined.

According to him, research has indicated that the incorporation of fitness routines for employees could have a positive influence on the business by increasing productivity levels, reducing staff turnover, improving employee morale and reducing the amount of sick leave claimed.

The Minister added that Government, as the largest employer in Barbados, would be encouraging its employees to take this step; and he believes that those who are prepared to do this should be rewarded in some way.

Mr. Blackett also urged small businesses such as Little League Gym to develop community-based programmes which would create a good profile for the business and aid in creating close-knit communities.

In this regard, he noted that the Community Development Department could be of assistance to them.  “These could take forms which are not strictly related to fitness, but which address other things important to the community, like environmental issues, HIV/AIDS, and senior citizens…You could also encourage the older folk to join the gym, to work out together, to be healthier,” Minister Blackett concluded.

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