Movement Education, Presenteeism and Productivity

Movement Education, Presenteeism and Productivity


According to Harvard Business Review, researchers now indicate that the issue of presenteeism—the problem of workers’ being on the job, but not fully functioning because of illness or other medical conditions, not fully functioning—appears to be a much costlier problem than its counterpart, absenteeism. Studies show that presenteeism can cut individual productivity by one-third or more, even though, unlike absenteeism, it isn’t always apparent. Researchers are discovering increasingly reliable ways to measure this and are concluding that presenteeism costs companies billions of dollars a year. 

The keys to addressing many of the less severe but equally costly pathologies that cause presenteeism are better movement, proper posture and joint alignment. While many companies recognize the importance of a workplace wellness program, they are unaware that this program must also include movement education to address the root causes of both absenteeism and presenteeism. 

Some of the most prevalent pathologies that have been found to lead to presenteeism are digestive issues (such as gastric reflux), chronic pain (such as low back pain), neck pain and joint issues, allergies and mental health issues (such as depression.) Posture, alignment and better movement have been proven in numerous studies to prevent and/or reduce many of these issues.  Employees benefit not just from working out, but from enhancing the quality of their movement, connecting to their bodies and changing the way they stand, sit and move through the world with better posture. 

According to Allston Stubbs, orthopedic surgeon at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, posture is the 800-pound guerrilla in the room when it comes to health and wellness. “We see the spine and overall skeletal structure as being critical to a patient’s functionality and their satisfaction with their life and health care,” he said in a 2014 Wall Street Journal article

In today’s society, where constant forward flexion of the spine is the norm, it is more important than ever to address poor posture and body mechanics to reduce pain. In a Finnish study of 6000 participants, researchers found that frequent use of computers and mobile phones were associated with high rates of low back and chronic neck pain. According to the European Journal of Public Health, not only ergonomics, but also increased body awareness and movement education are necessary to prevent these problems.

A German study published in the journal of Clinical Psychology in 2014 found an empirical link between posture and depression—another leading cause of “presenteeism” at work. Improving the pervasive kyphotic posture so prevalent in today’s society has been linked by many studies to improved mood and energy, as well as pain reduction.  

Digestive health is also directly affected by posture and alignment. A 2002 study in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology found that body posture has a significant influence on intestinal gas propulsion, bloating and abdominal pain. Numerous studies have found that posture is related to everything from carbohydrate intolerance to IBS and bloating. 

Pilates has long been known to be one of the most effective strategies for improving posture, creating better alignment in the body and improving body control and strength, all of which leads to less risk of injury, improved quality of life, and longevity of movement abilities. For example, ​A 2008 study from Musculoskeletal Medicine stated that Pilates is helpful mind body practice for stress reduction as well as decreased low back pain. The study also found that the quality of the instructor was key to achieving maximal results and suggested that doctors who recommend Pilates as a course of care for patients with LBP seek Pilates practitioners certified by an national organization like the Pilates Method Alliance. A 2009 study in the Journal of Body Work and Movement Therapy studied the effects of Pilates on perceived self-efficacy, sleep quality and mood in adults between 20 to 40. Pilates was found to significantly improve all three.

All RedBird programs are grounded in the tried and tested Pilates techniques and practices that also reduce stress and improve mood.  In addition to this, all RB programs are built using our proprietary movement sequencing track system that ensures that the body is moved safely through all planes and ranges of movement for balanced muscular development. Most importantly, our programs are not just Pilates workouts–they are educational programs that teach participants body awareness, important postural concepts and an understanding of what proper biomechanics look and feel like in their own bodies. This is the key to real change. 

​By correcting the structural foundation of participants, these programs have a positive impact not only on acute injury prevention, but also on improved quality of life on a daily basis. How we feel in our bodies every day is a direct result of how we move.  An improvement in mind-body-connection and movement = an improvement in employee performance.


If you want to be at the top of your game – mentally, spiritually and emotionally, you also have to take care of yourself physically. We house all other parts of our “self” in our body, and to excel — not just in athletics — but in work, play and relationships, we have to take care of our physical being. The two most important aspects of caring for our physical self are the food we put in our body and the quality of movement we do each day. While employee wellness programs are now standard practice in most corporate settings, at RedBird we know there still exists a need in the market for a higher level of education, precision movement and community focus within these programs, not just to address absenteeism but presenteeism as well. 

“When I arrived at RedBird, co-owner Elisabeth assured me that the work I would do there would not replace but enhance the physical activities that I love, and she was right.  Taking classes at RedBird through the corporate program at Whole Foods has given me the chance to train at a level and with such precise technique that has proven to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I have built a level of strength and flexibility that I never knew was possible and connected with a community whose support I have both on and off the mat. The foundation that the team at RedBird lays out for its clients makes it possible to truly excel in other areas of life, physical, mental and beyond. I am truly grateful for this experience both to RedBird and Whole Foods for making this possible for us!”

– Jen Brown, RedBird Client and Whole Foods Accounting Team Member 

This blog post by RB co-owner and co-director, Elisabeth Kristof