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In today's fast-paced work environment, employee mental health is a growing concern. A recent study by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions revealed that nearly 85% of young professionals experience workplace stress, leading to burnout, absenteeism, and even thoughts of quitting (Ref. 1). This highlights the urgent need for companies to prioritize staff wellness and implement innovative solutions to address these challenges.

One effective approach is to promote sports participation as a key component of staff wellness programs. Sports offer a multitude of benefits, including stress reduction, improved physical and mental health, and a sense of community. However, simply encouraging employees to exercise on their own may not be enough. Companies need to create a culture that actively promotes and supports sports participation. However a staggering number of young employees do not seek support when facing work-related stress or mental health issues, exacerbating the problem. (Ref. 2) This situation is further complicated by the fact that discussing mental health is often considered taboo in many workplaces, particularly in Hong Kong.

Caption: Survey showed that employees facing mental health risk do not want to be discussed at workplace due to stigma

Engaging with a Sports Social Enterprise for a Win-Win

An innovative way to achieve this is by partnering with a sports social enterprise (Ref. 3). These organizations combine social impact with business goals, creating opportunities for both employees and the community. For example, a company could collaborate with a sports social enterprise that employs ethnic minority youngsters as sports coaches. This partnership would not only provide staff with access to engaging sports activities but also contribute to the development of underprivileged youth. The social enterprise can further promotes sports education among grassroots children from ethnic minorities.

Integrating Social Impact and Achieving SDGs

This approach aligns perfectly with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being) and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth). By supporting a sports social enterprise, companies can demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility and contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society. In this initiative, the company can support SDG 10 (Reduce inequalities) by using their service and also promote equal opportunities despite their races

Caption: The circular model of corporate engagement with a sports social enterprise

Measuring Success and Reporting Social Impact

To measure the impact of such initiatives, companies can track key performance indicators (KPIs) related to staff wellness, such as reduced absenteeism, improved employee engagement, and increased participation in sports activities. This data can be incorporated into ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) reports, demonstrating the positive social impact of the program. In addition, the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) provides guidelines on reporting social KPIs, such as occupational health and safety measures (KPI B2.3) and community engagement initiatives (KPIs B8.1 & B8.2). By adhering to these guidelines, companies can demonstrate their dedication to employee wellness and social impact, enhancing their reputation and stakeholder trust.

Building a Culture of Wellness

Incorporating sports into staff wellness programs offers a multifaceted solution to the pressing issue of workplace mental health. By partnering with sports social enterprises, companies can not only improve their employees' well-being but also make a significant social impact, aligning with global sustainability goals. This innovative approach not only fosters a healthier, more engaged workforce but also strengthens the company's employer brand and contributes to a more sustainable and equitable society.

Key Takeaways:

  • Staff mental health is a critical concern in today's workplace.

  • Sports participation can be a powerful tool for improving staff wellness.

  • Partnering with a sports social enterprise offers a win-win solution, benefiting employees, the community, and the company's social impact.

  • Integrating sports initiatives into ESG reporting demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.

Caption: Even an easy group exercise at office can relieve stress and enhance social interaction among staff


1. 工聯青委︰近八成半青年初入職場感壓力 逾八成不想上班 促政府加大力度支援青年減壓


2. 青年協會 <提升青年精神健康助職場適應>研究簡報 p.28  (16 May 2024)

3. Inherited Sports, a Sports Social Enterprise


For a detailed visual presentation, please go to 


Author : Eva WM So, RSW, CEP® Social worker specialized in sustainable social innovation


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