Think the days of the company gym have gone by the wayside? Think again. Amid the boom in individualized fitness apps and technology, many organizations are also doubling down and expanding their use of on-site fitness centers. Here’s why.
On-site fitness centers establish connections. Our research recently found that 75 percent of employees seek personalization and personal touch in their employer’s well-being offering. These are the driving factors for participation for many employees, and in many cases an on-site fitness center can better facilitate personal connections among colleagues and center staff that both enhance company culture and help employees work together in making progress on their health goals.
On-site fitness centers are personalized and convenient. On-site fitness centers also make it easier for employees to build healthy activities into their day—which we know is crucial to achieving health goals. One of our clients, University of Louisville, has made its on-site fitness center a hub for the entire well-being program—“Get Healthy Now.” The center acts as a place where employees and their families can make progress on their goals—whether they be physical, mental, financial or otherwise. The university offers a free campus shuttle to and from the 22,000-square well-being center so that all employees can access the center’s offerings, which include not only workout classes, but also health risk assessments and personal coaching, mental health and mindfulness workshops, smoking cessation classes, and workshops that support legal, social and financial development. Coupled with its online health management tool, employees have anytime access to support for every dimension of their health.
On-site fitness centers help build a meaningful culture of health. By including live, on-site offerings as part of the mix, organizations can more directly engage employees and help to build a culture of health that meets employees where and when they need support. An on-site well-being center can also be a creative way to engage an employees’ family and the local community. For example, the University of Louisville makes their on-site fitness center available to all employees for free, and only charges $10/month for spouses. Additionally, the university offers free health screenings to employees and their spouses, and hosts health events for the community throughout the year. A centralized hub for well-being creates opportunities to build a more meaningful culture of health for employees and their families.
On-site fitness centers can generate healthcare savings. Organizations are seeing real results from investing in their employees’ health. The University of Louisville’s “Get Healthy Now” program includes live, on-site offerings as well as virtual resources to support employees—a mix that is allowing the program to reap a 74 percent participation rate. Employees who participate in the university’s program experience decreased health risks and reduction in healthcare claims costs. Overall, program participants see an average claims savings of $1,300, which has resulted in an estimated $4.3 million in reduced claims spending for the university. The university’s team has found that for every dollar invested in its wellness program, $7 is generated in healthcare savings.
I am proud to work closely with many thoughtful organizational leaders who see their company’s fitness center as more than a place to lift weights and sweat the stress of the workday away. They understand it has a much bigger potential to be a hub for well-being—not only for employees, but for the community. And they also understand that a successful well-being program takes action on employees’ desires and needs, and provides the tools and resources they need to make progress on their goals. Given the increase in remote work, heavy travel schedules, and general desire among employees for flexibility, organizations must also layer in health support resources that can be made available anytime, anywhere—whether that means a fitness tracker and application, an online tool with assessments and plans, virtual fitness classes, or all of the above. Employees have made it clear that they want both live and virtual resources to make progress in their well-being goals. And, when done right, we will all reap the benefits.