4 Reasons On-Site Fitness Centers Have Become Key Recruiting Tools in the Struggle for Talent

It’s no secret: Today’s employers are struggling to recruit top talent. Current government statistics tell us the U.S. employment rate was 4.1 percent in November. That’s down by more than half from its peak of 10.2 percent in October 2009. Meanwhile, a large portion of the workforce will be retiring in the next 15 years. By 2030, every Baby Boomer will be 65 or older, which means a full 18 percent of the U.S. population will be at retirement age (according to Pew Research Center population projections). That’s quite a bit of people exiting the workforce — and many jobs left to fill.

Bottom line: There just aren’t going to be enough good people to fill all the open roles in the next 10 to 15 years.

And that’s a big-time problem for today’s modern businesses.

Unique Benefits

How are organizations tackling this challenge? Many are offering unique employee benefits to attract and retain the best employees.

For example, Starbucks offers full tuition reimbursement for its employees through 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.

And, increasingly, companies are offering on-site fitness centers as a key employee perk. According to a 2017 survey of HealthFitness clients, 92 percent 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 leader said, “Our on-site fitness center is an attractive employee perk.”

Why Employees Love On-Site Fitness Centers

Why are these on-site fitness centers such a great employee benefits? And why are they turning out to be especially valuable as recruiting tools? Four big reasons come to mind.

A more personal touch is what employees really want.

According to research conducted by HealthFitness in partnership with The Connell Group between 2015 and 2016, 75 percent of employees say a personal touch is important in their health, wellbeing and fitness program. That means employees are seeking access to live experts who are credible, engaging, easy to access and provide one-on-one support for their specific needs. Corporate fitness centers meet this need directly by not only offering a space to exercise but a place where employees can work with coaches and fitness consultants to develop individualized plans to meet their unique health needs.

Convenience matters.

That same research found that 40 to 45 percent of employees who are offered an on-site fitness facility access choose to participate largely due to the convenience, inviting environment and low- or no-cost membership. After all, it’s much easier to get a workout in if you only have to travel two floors down on the elevator versus 10 miles in rush-hour traffic. Convenience is everything for today’s over-booked employee.

Movement matters, too — especially when helping reduce workplace injuries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3 million on-the-job injuries occurred in 2016. 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 staggering numbers. And employers are beginning to realize that movement matters and that muscular imbalances can lead to pain, injury and decreased movement functionality.

Definitions of fitness are evolving.

Ten years ago, if you asked employers to define fitness when it came to their employees’ health, they probably would have spoken mostly about physical health. But, in 2018, employers are increasingly looking at employee health from a whole-person view, recognizing its physical, social, emotional, financial and environmental dimensions. And on-site fitness centers have evolved with that changing definition of fitness to address more of these dimensions. For example, employees can now get a workout (on the treadmill), refocus (via a yoga class) and refresh (with a tai chi class)—all at the modern on-site fitness center.

As the struggle for talent continues, I think we’ll see more companies introducing corporate fitness centers as a key way to recruit top employees.