Editor's note: This is a contributed piece from Ann Wyatt, vice president, program management & engagement at HealthFitness.
As the struggle for talent heats up, organizations are looking to unique and creative employee benefits to attract top employees.
Starbucks offers full tuition reimbursement for its employees via Arizona State University. IKEA offers four months of parental time off to full- and part-time employees with at least one year experience at the company. And Scripps Health offers pet insurance for employees’ cats and dogs.
But, one tried-and-true employee benefit is making a big comeback: the on-site fitness center.
According to a recent survey of our clients we conducted, 92% of company HR leaders said their on-site fitness centers helped their organization stay competitive. One HR leader said, “amenities such as our fitness center help us attract and retain top talent for our organization.” Another said, “our on-site fitness center is an attractive employee perk.”
Even with all the new technology advances in recent years and an increasingly mobile and virtual workforce, employees still prefer more live, human interaction in their well-being program.
According to recent research, 75 percent of employees say a personal touch is important in their health, well-being and fitness program. We hear from employees all the time that they want more access to “live experts:” credible, engaging people who can lead fitness classes, for example. Or, health experts who can provide one-on-one support and coaching for employees’ specific well-being needs.
More and more employees are discovering that corporate fitness centers can meet these needs.
But, what else is behind this comeback trend? Why are we seeing more companies invest in on-site fitness centers as a key recruiting tool? Three reasons come to mind:
1: Convenience, convenience, convenience
Our research found that 40-45% of employees who are offered on-site fitness facility access choose to participate largely due to their convenience, inviting environment and low- or no-cost membership. This should probably surprise no one given the hectic schedules of today’s employee. Between kids’ activities, work, family commitments and other hobbies, well-being and fitness often fall to the bottom of employees’ to-do lists. So, employees who have access to on-site fitness centers where they can do yoga, run a few miles or lift weights on a weekly basis are telling us and their employers that this is a huge employee benefit.
2. Getting moving helps reduce workplace injuries
Consider the facts: According to the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3 million on-the-job injuries occur each year. Last year there were 1,153,490 days-away-from-work cases due to injuries reported with an average of eight days away from work to recuperate. And, last but certainly not least, workplace injuries cost employers nearly $60 billion a year. Those are some big numbers. Employers realize that movement matters and often we are unaware of muscular imbalances that can lead to pain, injury and decreased movement functionality.
3: Employers and employees are expanding their views of fitness
As recently as 10 years ago, if you asked employers to define fitness when it came to their employees’ health, they’d most likely have given you a definition that focused on physical health. Fast forward to today and employers are increasingly looking at employee health from a whole-person view, recognizing its physical, social, emotional, financial and environmental dimensions.
As on-site fitness centers have evolved to address more of these dimensions, they have expanded beyond helping employees “get in shape.” For example, one day, an employee might decide to run three miles on a treadmill. The next day, she might take a yoga class to help her refocus during a hectic day. And later in the week, she might participate in a tai chi class to help her refresh.
As the struggle for talent really heats up in the future expect to see more companies introducing corporate fitness centers as a key way to lure top employees.