An on-site fitness facility can benefit both employees and employers. Having easily accessible health offerings brings many advantages ranging from reduced health-care costs and lower absenteeism, to increased job satisfaction and enhanced morale.
Promoting Exercise to Manage Weight and Stress
According to the Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA), approximately 70 percent of all illnesses (and associated health-care costs) can be avoided. By addressing the health risks in an efficient, effective and employee-friendly way, many health-care concerns — including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers — could be significantly reduced within an organization.
Weight and stress are among the most pronounced health risk factors that impact employees’ health and well-being. Changing behavior by increasing the opportunity for physical activity is an evidence-based approach that can be employed to mitigate these two risk factors.
Numerous studies have shown that an exercise program incorporated into a comprehensive worksite wellness program can assist:
- Factors associated with long-term weight loss and weight maintenance: analysis of a comprehensive workplace wellness program
- Impact of worksite wellness intervention on cardiac risk factors and one-year health care costs
- Workplace Interventions to Reduce Obesity and Cardiometabolic Risk
As of late, these findings have also been echoed in the popular media and the public is increasingly aware that stress — particularly adrenal stress — relates to body fat accumulation, and can be fought off with a combination of strategies that include a regular exercise regimen.
This sentiment was also expressed in the 2012 “Principal Financial Well-Being Index: American Workers” study. A survey among 1,100 American workers employed in small to mid-sized business showed that an on-site fitness facility was perceived as a top wellness perk. Twenty-five percent of workers who did not have an on-site fitness facility wanted one, which was an increase compared to 19% of workforce expressing the same wish in 2011.
On-site versus membership
Studies show that paying for or subsidizing a membership at an off-site health club does not bring the same results as having an on-site facility. A research conducted by the University of California showed that people who pay for an annual gym membership do not necessarily develop a long-term habit of exercising. Workers are more likely to stick to an exercise routine when the health club is easily accessible, as opposed to having to travel offsite before or after their work hours.
Taking that into consideration, the idea of starting an on-site fitness facility can be more cost effective than paying for an external fitness membership. Moreover, experts emphasize that initial costs of building a workout facility can be extremely manageable and adapted to the company’s budget.
Reducing Employee Turnover and Increasing Productivity
Some authors see building an on-site fitness facility as a worthwhile technique that helps retain and attract desirable employees. A functioning fitness facility can be viewed as a recruitment tool that gives a specific company competitive advantage over their rivals. This is an important factor as having a satisfied, fit and healthy workforce has become an important goal for many modern companies that are aware of the positive economic effects this can have.
Furthermore, having an on-site fitness facility has been connected with a reduction in absenteeism as concluded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This was also reflected in numerous case studies, including one published in the Kansas City Business Journal.
The Best Companies to Work for...
Currently the number of companies offering on-site fitness facilities is relatively low. In 2012, only 12% of companies featured fitness facilities on-site. This statistic can be critically examined against the prevailing opinion that the best companies to work for look after their workers and give them opportunities to develop and improve both professionally and personally, which includes improving health and well-being. Twitter, for example, which was voted the second best company to work for in 2014 by the online jobs and career community Glassdoor, lists weekly in-office yoga and Pilates classes as employee perks.
We at Active believe that an on-site fitness facility presents more than just an insular wellness strategy. It is a statement of organizational excellence that can increase the company’s employee offering and help create and nurture a culture of wellness that will improve not only employee health but overall morale as well.