If you’re lucky enough to work at Google, then you’re sorted on the fitness front. With on-site fitness centres, classes and micro kitchens so you can prepare healthy snacks through the day, this is one company who is investing in employee fitness. And the benefits for the company seem to be clear cut. A 2017 survey for HealthFitness found that 92% of HR leaders attributed their company’s competitiveness to their on-site fitness centres. Not only does having on site fitness facilities make a company more appealing to prospective employees, but there are a wealth of other benefits too for both employer and employee. For the employee, it means reduced stress levels, greater ability to perform the job role, improved physical and mental health, and for the employer, greater productivity, less absenteeism, reduced sickness levels and improved team working.

There has been significant investment and research into the links between not only fitness and overall health and the ability to perform at your best in the workplace, but into wellness as a whole. Companies like Google are placing fitness into wellness programmes that include everything from healthcare advice and support to lifelong learning. This is a trend that is replicated across the US, where it is projected that the corporate wellness service industry will be worth around 11.3 billion dollars by 2021.

In the UK though, a report by the Health Work Wellbeing Executive suggests that the uptake of wellness programmes has been slower, but that those companies that have implemented wellness programmes have been able to demonstrate benefits such as reduced sickness/absence, reduced staff turnover, increased employee satisfaction and increased productivity. Of key interest is the evidence the companies have been able to demonstrate in return on investment. One company who invested in physical wellbeing programmes found that for every £1 spent, their return was £2.67 (over a year).

Of course, not every business has the capacity or capability to develop an on-site gym, but that doesn’t mean that introducing a wellness programme that incorporates some kind of fitness provision isn’t possible. Ideas could include:

1) Regular classes in a meeting room. Having an outside trainer who specialises in a particular form of exercise visit the workplace in order to teach a class is a good option for many businesses. A huge part of the reason for the success of corporate fitness programmes is ease of use for staff, and having the class available within the office walls makes it more likely that staff will participate. Most classes like HIIT or circuits could be performed in a meeting room, and most businesses will have a space like this that they can utilise. Fitness firm Right Path Fitness have been offering this service to great effect in and around London.

2) A partnership with a local gym. For businesses that don’t have the space for exercise on the premises, arranging a membership with a local gym enables staff to work out with a particular incentive. Companies like travel brand Party Hard Travel utilise this form of employee fitness programme, and additionally incentivise their staff to meet their personal fitness goal each week.

3) Clubs and teams. Setting up a club or team can be really beneficial for staff, helping them to develop bonds and strengthen relationships as they improve their fitness. Football or netball clubs are good ideas, but it can be anything with a team based element.

4) Walking or running clubs. One of the key take-outs from research into health over recent years is that inactivity is a major cause of many health conditions. In short, people just sit still for too long. Workplace walking and running clubs, perhaps led by an outside trainer, at a set time each day encourage employees to be active during the working day, so that they break up the cycle of 8 hours sat at a desk. And as an added benefit, they will come back to work feeling far more productive.

5) Group fitness. For larger companies, arranging regular fitness activities like a HIIT session at a local club, purely for the employees of that company, can be used to help staff to unwind and de-stress away from work. Helping employees to change their lifestyle so that fitness becomes a natural part of their schedule should be a key priority for businesses.

In the UK, not only is the population growing but it is ageing. This makes fitness and wellness programmes more important than ever. Jobs are becoming increasingly desk bound and perhaps most importantly of all, employees’ expectations of their jobs are changing. Employees have more choice when it comes to who they work for, and how long they stay in the role, whilst companies must constantly strive for better businesses performance in this competitive world. For most companies, an employee fitness programme is the most effective solution for their future success.

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