Breaking barriers to physical activity key to corporate success
Giving staff a free gym membership sounds like a nice perk. In reality, it will most likely only appeal to the 20% of employees who already engage in physical activity. The other 80% – who do little or no exercise – need more than a freebie to change their behaviour and attitude regarding physical activity. When building a corporate health package, it is vital that employers understand what their staff want. Pietro Carmignani, VP & CEO UK and Ireland at Gym pass, explains how employers can support their staff to keep fit and healthy.
Corporate Wellness Barometer
A Corporate Wellness Barometer study by Gympass, UK leader in corporate fitness programmes, showed that 10 of the top 20 most sought-after benefits relate to work-life balance and a healthier lifestyle. The study also showed 65% of employees would engage more in physical activity if their employer offered physical activity schemes. However,currently only around 14% of individuals are granted access to gyms, studios and other sports facilities through their employer.
Corporate Wellness Barriers
Besides lack of access or employer support to engage in exercise,other common wellness barriers include misconceptions, lack of time or money and not appreciating the benefits of physical activity. To overcome these, employers must offer a range of activities to appeal to everyone’s preferences in tandem with social and supportive events.
Tesco’s recent annual colleague health survey illustrates the common wellness barriers faced by corporates. “A huge number of our employees struggle to find ways to improve their general health and wellbeing and we needed to deliver convenient and accessible solutions to engage our workforce in greater levels of physical activity,” says James Goodman, People Director at Tesco.
Corporate Wellness Opportunity
Wellness and employee satisfaction are directly linked. Employees who are physically and mentally healthy, are more likely to feel engaged and driven in the work place. Furthermore, when enjoying and performing well in their job, employees feel an improved sense of wellbeing. Companies have a great opportunity to create a healthy, motivated and productive workforce by not just championing physical activity but by offering an extensive and well thought out approach to corporate wellness.
Employers are in a unique position to encourage physical activity resulting in wellness at work and home as they:
- Offer social context to people’s lives
- Have credibility among theirworkforce
- Reach beyond the more ‘detached’Government, NGO or NGB initiatives
Reaching the 80%
Encouraging the 80% of individuals who do not already engage with fitness, requires more than simply providing a membership to a fitness centre.
- Senior endorsement is a key driver to engage employee uptake of the opportunity to exercise: a good example of this is when the Tesco CEO recorded a video testimonial talking about the Gympass offer and other benefits.
- Companies need to promote the benefits of being physically active and encourage individuals: wellness talks,breakfasts, workshops and general discussions within the office environment will generate interest and enthusiasm for exercise.
- Constant engagement is key for the success of any benefit. Using multiple touch points, channels and internal comms to get the message across is mandatory.
Convenience is a major driver
Convenience should not be underestimated! If an employee can access exercise options close to their work, engagement in activity soars. Corporates who can be flexible to allow people to arrive a little later, take a longer lunch break or leave a little earlier to engage in exercise before,during or after work will reap the rewards.
Include homeworkers and on-the-road staff
Companies must also accommodate homeworkers and staff who travel a lot on business. Finding an activity solution that can be enjoyed wherever their staff find themselves makes a huge difference. A gym in the basement or building adjoining HQ won’t suit everyone: linking with national fitness providers immediately opens doors to everyone.
Tesco’s 300,000 employees in the UK – from head office employees to in-store workers and home workers to delivery drivers – are engaged in a Gympass programme that offers easy access to more than 1,700 fitness facilities across the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Alongside these subsidised gym memberships, Gympass hosts live wellness events and breakfasts for Tesco, engaging directly with employees and sharing the benefits of physical activity.
“Gympass has a vast network of fitness operators meaning all our employees can choose from leisure facilities up and down the country and across multiple price brackets,” says James Goodman. “This ensure everyone can find the perfect fitness solution and activity for them.”
The heart of the matter
Evidently, the benefits of providing staff with opportunities to improve their health and wellbeing is unrivalled. A business which puts its staff’s needs at the heart of their wellness offering, will realise the benefits of a healthy, active workforce.