A generation ago, corporate fitness centers were a novelty. These days, fitness centers have become a necessary amenity for companies who are competing for talent, looking to boost employee health and productivity, and building a culture that supports a healthy lifestyle.
According to the Tenth Annual Employer-Sponsored Health and Well-Being Survey, 63% of companies surveyed will have a fitness center in place by the end of 2019, and another 6% are considering adding one in 2020.
And it’s not just the younger employees who are looking for this perk. The same survey found that the appeal of providing well-being initiatives spans all ages, with 60% of generation X (ages 38-53 in 2018) and 34% of millennials (ages 22-37 in 2018) being the most engaged in their company’s offerings, proving that the right program is valuable to almost any employee.
Here’s a look at five top benefits of a corporate fitness center:
1. On-site fitness centers provide convenience.
Fitting a workout in before or after work or during lunch can be a challenge, even if the fitness center is just a few blocks from the office. That’s often a corporate fitness center’s biggest draw, as being on campus makes it easier for employees to squeeze in their training, removing at least one obstacle from the process.
“Convenience is one of the biggest benefits, no doubt,” says Jennifer Kester, total wellness program leader for Valero Energy Corp. “When you can work out, get cleaned up, and get quickly back to work without leaving the property, that makes it a lot easier to fit into the day.”
Beyond proximity to the workstation, having an on-site corporate fitness center also shows employees that you’re supporting their effort to build health and fitness into their already packed schedules. “Being right here on-site improves the overall employee experience,” says Kris Herrera, senior manager, vendor programs and process for Adobe. “Our strategy is all about holistic wellness, and when we can provide a convenient place for employees to exercise, meditate, or simply take a break and recharge, it helps them incorporate wellness into their daily routine.”
2. Corporate fitness centers build camaraderie.
In a modern world where many employees telecommute or spend their days in the office tethered to screens and conference calls, building a culture to encourage in-person interaction is important.
A corporate fitness center provides a daily, year-round opportunity for employees to interact in a low-key setting that can complement the workplace. And it also helps employees meet co-workers from different departments during workouts or sports and recreational experiences run by the fitness center, which might not occur otherwise in larger companies.
“Collaboration can come in the unlikeliest of places,” says Robert Gordon, vice president, global workplace services for American Express. “It’s not uncommon to have a team-building spin class. Or maybe you’re just next to someone on a treadmill, which presents the equivalent of an elevator speech opportunity.”
3. Corporate wellness offerings attract talent.
With so much emphasis on work-life balance and a blurring of work and non-work time due to digital technology, a corporate wellness center is a perk many employees appreciate. If all else is equal, a top candidate could choose one company over another based on the availability of an on-site corporate fitness center.
“We’ve done a lot of research into the top amenities employees are looking for,” Gordon says. “Access to health and fitness is a big consideration.”
But just providing access isn’t enough. It’s important to be thoughtful about how the corporate fitness center fits within the overall wellness program, what services and amenities are available, and how you’ll encourage engagement and use of the facility. When done right, this combination cultivates a culture that helps people feel more valued.
One such instance is an investment firm that sought EXOS’ help to provide employees the opportunity to be as engaged with their families at 8 p.m. as they are with their co-workers at 8 a.m. After incorporating a workplace wellness solution that included nutrition, fitness, and wellness support, 80% of participants surveyed reported less stress and improved energy. And 70% said they felt more loyal to their employer.
4. Corporate fitness increases productivity.
Corporate fitness center operators say it can be challenging to find hard data on how a facility boosts overall employee health and productivity while reducing absenteeism, presenteeism, and medical claims. But the anecdotal evidence is obvious, from employees who’ve lost weight and overcome chronic conditions to those whose careers have soared as they’ve committed to wellness.
“All of us have the goal of a healthier, happier workforce and this helps us achieve that goal,” Kester says.
5. Employees feel more comfortable on-site.
Gordon notes that were it not for his company’s EXOS-run fitness center, he and his colleagues likely would turn to one of the prominent fitness chain facilities near their Manhattan office. In addition to being more expensive and less convenient, the chain gyms tend to have high turnover and provide a less personalized experience than a corporate fitness center.
While competing with trendy boutique fitness centers and large chains for members might seem daunting, corporate fitness centers have one big advantage – they’re built into an environment where employees are already comfortable. And that means your staff members have opportunities to build a customized corporate fitness center experience and relationships that impact people on a personal level.
“Here they know you by name and it’s a much more collegial, familiar environment,” Gordon says. “You’re naturally going to get more out of that experience.”
The key is to embrace the challenge. You know what your employees want better than any boutique fitness center around, so use that knowledge. That’s what Humana did, seeking EXOS’ help to create an innovative wellness experience that’s not only open to employees but also welcomes the community. And the results speak for themselves, with average visits sitting at over 600 per day.
Planning your corporate fitness center? Check out these ideas for creating an experience that will keep your employees coming back.
About the AuthorMore Content by Pete Williams