Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Why You Might Be Wrong About Outsourcing Fitness Center Management

NIFS | Corporate Fitness ClassNIFS isn't the only agency that provides fitness management expertise to businesses. There are several like us because the market demands it. While many organizations have adopted a DIY attitude about managing their own fitness programs, an additional (and substantial) set of businesses has recognized the value in outsourcing fitness center management for their corporate fitness center or in their senior living community.

We’ve been at this for almost 25 years and I’ve heard a variety of objections to outsourcing fitness staff. I’ve got my own list of objections to those objections...so here we go:

Objection 1: Outsourcing fitness center management is too expensive.

This objection really comes down to a comparison of direct versus indirect employee costs. Working with a partner may be more expensive when you compare wages and benefits you pay your employee with the billing you would get from a partner. The fitness management organization has overhead and a margin they need to earn.

When you look at the cost to hire, train, and supervise an employee, your cost comparison starts to even out. Then throw in the consideration of ongoing training and supervision, potential turnover, and statutory costs related to employees, you may find that partnering with a staffing agency like NIFS provides significant value.

Objection 2: I have no control over the staff person.

I don’t know who you’ve worked with historically, but any organization in this business that doesn’t put service first and foremost is making a gigantic mistake. When you’re working with the right outsourcing partner, that organization should be keenly interested in keeping you, the client, happy. To that end, they should be very interested in your feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of the staff they’re providing at your location.

Objection 3: An outsourced staff person won’t have buy-in from our constituents.

For starters, see objection #2. Keep in mind that the only way a staffing agency stays in business is if they have learned to be nimble and highly adaptive to a variety of environments. You can check on a potential outsourcing partner’s flexibility by talking to a variety of references.

When we go to work in senior living settings, we often pair up staffing services with wellness consulting (at no additional cost) so that we can better support the organization and further understand the culture with that client. This understanding is communicated to our staff on the ground so that we’re all operating from the same educated starting point.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.

Objection 4: Fitness isn’t rocket science; we’ve got this.

Okay. You’re right. Fitness isn’t rocket science, and you may very well “have it.” There are a host of highly capable, service-minded, passionate health and fitness professionals out there who are ready to work directly for you. But who has their back?

Who provides them with fresh ideas, resources, direction, and support? Your human resources director? Your activities director? Not likely—unless you’ve somehow hit a gold mine of fitness-educated staff at your business, the fitness manager you employ is probably the only one of his or her kind in your four walls. Outsourcing partners (the best ones, anyway) bring a team of resources, professionals, expertise, and support to the staff member they provide your organization.

Maybe you have other objections I can address. If so, leave them in the comments below. On the other hand, if I’ve just addressed your objections and you’re ready to start looking at outsourcing partners, drop me a line, or take a closer look at us through the rest of our blog. If your business has to move through an RFP process, you might want to read what I wrote on my top 10 RFP questions for corporate fitness management.

CORPORATE FITNESS STAFFING ›SENIOR LIVING FITNESS STAFFING ›

 

Topics: worksite wellness nifs fitness management NIFS corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment employee health and fitness corporate wellness staffing wellness consulting outsourcing fitness managment

Why Corporate Fitness Needs to Evolve (Like Corporate Wellness)

The elements that make up corporate fitness haven’t changed much in the almost 20 years I’ve been connected to the business. We’re still working hard to attract as many employees as possible to our programs, we’re still running fun, lighthearted games, we’re still tracking memberships, and we’re still helping employees with their exercise programs through prescription and assessment services. Group fitness is still a staple, and you still typically see corporate fitness centers with staff only in larger businesses.

Sure, equipment has changed, and there are a ton of new (albeit not necessarily better) certifications available for practitioners. Big players have more bells and whistles to win new business, but the core elements that make up a sound corporate fitness program for your employees are the same as they were years ago.

Corporate Wellness, However, Is in Flux

And yet, corporate wellness as a broader header under which corporate fitness sits has changed dramatically over the last decade. It’s still in significant flux. While the somewhat dated biometric screening and health risk assessments are still fundamental in many corporate wellness initiatives, they are losing popularity. As businesses look past the limited utility of those elements, they are turning toward opportunities to educate their employees into becoming better health care consumers as well as looking toward creative outlets for stress management along with getting back to basics by meeting basic human needs.

So why, then, is corporate fitness still doing what it’s always done? Can corporate fitness partners be part of the wellness evolution by offering solutions beyond the typical elements outlined above?

How NIFS Is Offering Evolved SolutionsThinkstockPhotos-512169680_1.jpg

We think so. Here are some of the ways we’re doing just that:

  • Personal training has a niche market; it’s the people who benefit from it and who can also afford it. We work with clients who have a lot of employees that can’t afford the luxury of a personal trainer. Rather than tell them they’re on their own, we built Personal Fitness Quest to meet that very real need. Here’s how that alternative to personal training works for us.
  • Where clients have allowed it, our staff have stocked and promoted activity centers. These simple nooks, typically carved out of high-traffic areas like the cafeteria, provide a small space were employees can take a break and focus their minds on something other than their work. They can realize the stress-relieving benefits of coloring, play their teammates in Jenga®, or listen to a relaxation meditation on an MP3 player.
  • Our staff are capital-S serious about their work; they believe completely in what they’re doing to help improve the health of the employees with whom they work. But sometimes work is a little too serious, and we understand our role is to provide a light and welcoming environment. Employees need to feel understood, and they need a place to decompress. Some days they just need a good laugh. Check out how one of our managers put a laughable spin on the benefits of being a chicken.

Corporate fitness would benefit from the lessons that old-school corporate wellness is feeling by evolving into a service that promotes holistic well-being, perhaps with an emphasis on fitness. How are you promoting more than just exercise in your corporate fitness program?

Looking for more on what can make your fitness program tick? Use the button below to download our quick read with three tips for a successful corporate fitness center.

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Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness stress NIFS corporate fitness centers group fitness personal training

A Simple Way to Boost Participation in Your Corporate Fitness Center

Our staff are routinely focused on how they can grow participation in the corporate fitness centers they manage. Granted, they don’t have to work that hard at it in January, and maybe into February, but beyond those first two months of the year, the remaining ten months can prove challenging for meeting their participation goals.

ThinkstockPhotos-465140373.jpgOne of the ways they work on achieving specific participation numbers is through successful programming. It’s not rocket science, but you do have to know your members and understand what works with them in order to build effective programs. That’s why our crew is so focused on evaluating their offerings; the results help them better understand how to provide incentive and educational programs tailored to the interests and needs of the audience they’re serving.

Tapping into existing successes

One of our managers at a corporate fitness center in New York created a simple St. Patrick’s Day–themed program to help New Year’s resolution makers carry through with their newfound exercise habits into March. For this program, she set specific goals to increase fitness center visits (targeting eight or more monthly visits per member) and to increase participation in group fitness classes.

 

Each member who signed up for the program was given a small pot (“pot-o-gold”) into which they could place the gold coins they received for coming in to work out on their own or to take a class. She weighted the group class participation by giving two coins for each class. The participant goal was to collect as many gold coins (get as many visits) as possible for the duration of the program. Supplies for the program cost about $30.

[Related Content: 3 Ways to Improve Corporate Fitness Programming on a Small Budget]
 

Simplicity wins

Members provided feedback that one of the things they enjoyed about the program was its simplicity. It was both easy to understand and easy to participate. When work and personal lives are so complicated and hectic, it’s refreshing to have the corporate fitness center offer no-brainer incentives as a diversion and stress reliever. Not only was the program easy for the members, but our manager reported that she appreciated the simplicity as well; there were no detailed spreadsheets to manage, no massive uptick in 1:1 appointments to juggle, and no convoluted formulas to compute to determine program winners. In fact, even marketing the program was easy—who doesn’t want to win a pot of gold?

The NIFS manager reported that she saw several new faces engaging in group fitness who have continued taking classes long after the program concluded, and some associates who hadn’t completed their memberships hustled through their remaining steps so that they could participate in the program. Overall, she saw 72 percent of program participants workout out at least eight times during the month-long initiative, substantially higher than her typical frequent visitor percentage. Additionally, group fitness class participation increased by 15 percent.

Want to get your hands on other great program ideas that have been tested and proven in corporate fitness?  See what we've outlined as NIFS Best Practice programming.

 

Topics: corporate fitness motivation corporate fitness centers participation program planning Corporate Best Practices, group fitness incentives

Three Ways to Improve Corporate Fitness Programming on a Small Budget

staff001.jpgSometimes employers go all in on their investment in a corporate fitness center. Thousands of square feet are dedicated to treadmill upon treadmill, thoughtful changing facilities, ample group exercise space, creative equipment solutions, and around-the-clock dedicated fitness staff.

But that’s not the reality for most employers. It’s important to remember that corporate fitness doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. You can provide programs, services, and (probably most importantly) an environment that’s conducive to movement. So if you’re trying to improve the exercise options you provide onsite for your employees, but you’re on a tight budget, consider these ideas.

1. If you have dedicated staff for an exercise program, invite them to be a Jack (or Jill) of all trades.

Most exercise professionals with a college degree have a background in more than just exercise. It’s common for an exercise science curriculum to fold in public health, nutrition basics, stress resilience, and other health-related disciplines. We work with one client who has a small fitness center and no additional budget for fitness programming, and rather than lock our staff down to the four walls of the fitness center, they are out and about providing healthy lectures, offering stretch breaks at key shift-change intervals, and coordinating extra workplace wellness services like onsite chair massage.

2. Consider group fitness classes.

Sure, dancing to music isn’t for everyone, but group fitness has come a long way. You don’t have to be coordinated or be able to keep the beat to enjoy a great class. And if your office includes meeting space with tables and chairs that can be pushed to the walls, you probably have everything you need to run a class. Instructor costs can be paid for by employees, subsidized by the employer, or paid in full by the employer. Check out our quick read: Three Keys to Adding Group Exercise at Work.

3. Think long and hard about your environment.

How are your employees encouraged to work, and how are your leaders and managers incentivized to run their teams? Are employees expected to sit glued to their screens all day to make a quota? Do your managers have substantial pressure to meet the same quota? These kinds of unwritten cultural norms make it almost impossible for an employee to take a 10-minute walking break. Can that mindset be shifted over time? This article suggests that employers have to start taking a look at creative ways to address employee stress.

What about your physical space? Maybe you can’t have a dedicated space for employee exercise, and even group exercise classes in an unused meeting room seems out of bounds. Perhaps simple signage encouraging the use of stairs instead of elevators would be a starting point to encouraging employees to move more.

Think about incentives for exercise differently. Good, old-fashioned behavioral economics around loss aversion could help you build an inexpensive incentive model for encouraging more frequent exercise in a sedentary workforce.

Don’t let a lack of physical space or dedicated staff derail your brainstorming about ways to inject more opportunities for activity at the office. The options are only limited by your creativity (not your budget).

  Tips for adding exercise


Topics: corporate fitness stress corporate fitness centers fitness programming exercise in the workplace group fitness workplace wellness

Employee Wellness Programming Beyond the Corporate Fitness Center

I shared a few months ago about our staff following the KISS principle (that’s “keep it super simple” in our world!) on an exercise-based program with one of our clients. (You can find out more about the NIFS150 corporate fitness program here.) I wanted to update you on that program’s outcomes and talk about our latest challenge.

ASAP_blog_image.jpgOne of the outcomes we saw from that program was that a lot of the participants did not exercise in the corporate fitness center during the initiative, and frankly, that was by design. We were mostly interested in supporting and inspiring employees to achieve 150 minutes of activity each week, so we eliminated the “must be accomplished in the corporate fitness center” barrier by allowing participants to log any activity accomplished anywhere. After all, the primary job of our fitness center managers and health fitness specialists is to get employees moving. If it’s activity in the corporate fitness center, even better. But with today’s frantic schedules, we’ll take any movement, anywhere, anytime.

The Active Summer Adventure Program (ASAP)

In another creative effort designed to help employees make healthy choices across the spectrum of health (not just fitness), our staff created the Active Summer Adventure Program (ASAP) challenge. In this unique corporate wellness program built on a theme of exploration, participants have the following weekly challenges to complete:

  • Hydration Lagoon: Drink 64 ounces of water each day of the week.
  • Adventure Park: Try a new outdoor activity.
  • Meditation Meadow: Practice meditation, breathing exercises, or stretches on four days this week.
  • Fitness Fountain: Try a new group exercise class, DVD, or at-home workout.
  • Traveling Trail: Accumulate at least 7,000 to 10,000 steps one day this week.
  • Feel-Good Farm: Pack a healthy lunch three days during the week.
  • Progress Paradise: Complete two fitness center screenings (BMI, circumference, blood pressure, body composition, resting heart rate, or body weight) this week.
  • Journaling Jungle: Keep a food log for three days this week.

As was the case with the NIFS150 program, our goal with the ASAP program was to make it accessible for everyone. It was promoted to all employees, including those who work at home. We ran it over summer months when it can be particularly challenging to attract employees into the corporate fitness center. The online registration and website access for weekly challenges made it simple for all participants to have the information they needed to be successful.

And, in keeping with many of our programs, we offered prize drawings for employees who successfully completed all eight quests. Consistent with the “adventure” theme of the program, most prizes were experience-oriented (such as tickets to theme parks, state park passes, and surfing lessons) rather than stuff-oriented (such as wearable tech, shirts, and gym bags).

ASAP Employee Wellness Results

In a post-program survey we learned that almost 84% of responders believed they adopted a new healthy behavior by participating in ASAP. And that’s consistent with their rating of “accountability to try something new” as their favorite program feature. Participants also reported learning something new about health during this program. Although weight loss was not a focus for this program, 43% of survey respondents reported losing weight or inches during the eight-week offering. Almost 60% reported having more energy, and about one-quarter of participants indicated that they were sleeping better. Through the post-program survey, we also gained valuable insights on how we can improve the program if we offer it again next year.

Looking for more creative corporate fitness programming? Check out our best practice series by clicking the button below.

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness employee wellness corporate fitness centers participation program planning program evaluation CORP Programs and Services

Successful Corporate Fitness Program Gets Back to the Basics

Americans are fond of a quick fix, in weight loss in particular. According to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, surgical weight loss procedures increased from 13,000 in 1998 to 220,000 in 2008. A survey in the United Kingdom evaluated public attitudes toward such cosmetic surgery for weight loss and found that 59% of women would choose surgery over changing eating habits and engaging in regular exercise to lose weight or change their body shape. 

Anecdotally, our corporate fitness staff see these stories in the employees they serve as well. As a nation, we haven’t moved the needle on helping adults get more movement in their daily lives, and the numbers inside the corporate fitness center have peaked as well. So, what are we doing wrong?

Certainly, there are work-related and personal-life pressures that the staff in your corporate fitness center cannot impact, and there will always be a cap on how many employees they can reach. But in some ways, we’ve fallen away from basic services and simple program design as tools to draw participants into the programs. Businesses have committed (right or wrong) their focus to outcomes-based wellness offerings, and looked to biometric data and HRA results for those outcomes. Businesses have also turned (in droves) to wearables as a tool to help employees move more; the jury is still out on their long-term effectiveness. 

NIFS150 Encourages More Physical ActivityWatchThinkstockPhotos-465631985

In an effort to get back to simple measures designed to help participants (1) understand their fitness level, and (2) move more minutes each day, our staff designed a simple NIFS150 program where participants were encouraged to accomplish 150 minutes of physical activity per week for eight weeks and complete a pre- and post-program fitness assessment. 

Participants were able to earn their 150 minutes anywhere, anytime—we simply wanted them working to achieve the research-backed recommendation from the CDC. We pulled fitness assessments into the mix as a throwback to some older research performed by Dr. Steven Blair and colleagues that was published in the April 1995 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. That research showed that improving fitness level (defined by cardiovascular endurance) can decrease mortality risk. 

Forty percent of the initial 700 participants in the NIFS program completed at least 150 minutes of activity per week all eight weeks, and the staff completed assessments on 198 participants. Almost half of the participants indicated that this was the first NIFS program they’ve tried, so we’re pleased we hit a sweet spot for so many new folks! 

More than 75% of participants reported that the challenge helped them be more active than usual. Still, it’s worth noting that only one third of participants actually used the fitness center more during the program. You might think we were disappointed that more participants didn’t flock to the fitness centers with this client to gain their 150 minutes. After all, the program ran through the first quarter of 2015 in Indiana; it’s not like it was prime weather for exercising outside. Our priority with this initiative was to help employees be more physically active. We definitely keep track of visits, memberships, and other fitness center-related metrics, but we think it’s a win that we drew in so many newbies and that participants were more active than usual during the challenge. 

What We Learned from the Data

In addition to gaining some feedback from all the participants, we also surveyed those who completed fitness assessments as part of the program. We learned that

  • 70% of those who responded to the survey had never participated in a fitness assessment before.
  • 62% are now more likely to be active in their corporate fitness center.
  • 70% intend to continue with a periodic fitness assessment to track their progress on fitness-specific goals.
My read on this basic data is that we have a lot of opportunity to communicate the value of the (free) fitness assessments. We may need to find new language and new avenues for talking about what the testing is and how it might help an employee achieve health-related goals. And we probably have some champions from this initial offering of NIFS150 who could help by sharing their stories. We also have a clear opening to revisit the basic 150 minutes per week recommendation as a tool to draw more employees into moving more each day.  

Our staff continue to provide innovative programming for our clients. But this particular program points to just how simple a science-based offering can be yet still create impact. 

How are you creating impact through corporate fitness programming? Looking for more program ideas to get your creative juices flowing? Check out our Best Practices series—click on the button below to find out more. 

 NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: exercise corporate fitness NIFS corporate fitness centers staying active program evaluation data fitness assessment

What If: There Were More than One Class of Elite Performers at Work?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well. Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing. We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which topics to explore, and by finding us on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

Businesses need top performers in order to survive. We need sales staff who are heavy hitters, research staff who are actually rocket scientists, and customer service professionals who can turn any frown upside down. You know who those folks are in your organization, that top 5% of all performers. In some cases, they might be unsung heroes, but at a lot of businesses, the best among us are often publicly lauded. They are the elite.

Changing the Definition of “Elite”

Not everyone can fit into that narrow industry-specific definition of elite. But maybe, if business leaders opened their minds about what counts as elite, we could have more than one class of top-tier performers.

What if you didn’t have to exceed your sales quota to be considered among the elite at your worksite? Don’t get me wrong. You’d still have to work really hard. After all, becoming top tier is definitely hard work. Some would say rising to the top requires strength, agility, and grace under stress.

Rollerblading_woman_ThinkstockPhotos-476542628According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center found one way to get into the top 5% is to sweat. In their analysis of the American Time Use survey, they concluded that only 1 in 20 Americans engages in vigorous exercise (the kind that makes you sweat) on any given day. 

That’s right, a paltry 5% of us are working hard enough to actually sweat when we work out.

What Does This Have to Do with Employee Health? 

The way to sustained weight loss toward a healthy weight is through a healthy diet combined with prolonged cardiovascular exercise (45 to 60 minutes) at least five days per week. Employers: If you want a workforce that is at a healthier body weight, you have to (among other things) create an environment that supports and provides opportunities for your employees to work out hard enough to sweat. You need to build a corporate health culture that supports breaking a sweat in your worksite fitness center, or through another avenue of the employee’s choice.

Certainly, there’s more to individual well-being than being physically fit. But I wonder how many employees hold back on working out because of their environment (lack of access, lack of support). What if businesses publicly rewarded the exercising (aka sweaty) elite alongside the elite sales force and recognized the importance of employee health and fitness?

Download our whitepaper for tips on adding exercise to your worksite wellness program. 

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Topics: corporate fitness weight management corporate fitness centers cardio employee health and fitness health culture what if

Why Corporate Fitness Center Design Matters

Corporate_Fitness_Center-1When a business makes the commitment to put in a corporate fitness center, they are making a statement (hopefully one of many) about how important their employees’ health is. It’s a substantial investment, and the project is not to be taken lightly. 

From an outside perspective, you might think there’s not much to designing this kind of space. Put up the walls, install the equipment, and you’re ready to go, right? I suppose you can charge ahead with that philosophy, but you may be leaving quite a bit to chance in terms of building a space that is safe, efficient, and effective for your employees. 

From conception to completion, we’ve had the privilege of being involved in dozens of fitness center design projects over the last several years. Below are three reasons why we think thoughtful design in corporate fitness is key to a successful fitness center program.

 Webinar Series: The Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Selecting the best equipment influences the success of your space.

When deciding which exercise equipment you want for your space, be sure to do your homework. Every sales rep will offer to lay out your space with their equipment for free. And every rep will tell you that their equipment is the best. Carefully lay out the features that are most important to you (don’t forget about warranty), and make a pro/con list for the equipment you’re considering to determine what will work best in your space and for your employees.

Hiring the right staff will help maximize use of the fitness center.

Only about 20% of American adults are meeting the physical activity guidelines as offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (And that’s probably a falsely high estimate because the data is gathered through self-report mechanisms.) So you can expect that less than 20% of your workforce would get enough exercise even if you didn’t put in an onsite fitness center. Simply offering a corporate fitness program isn’t enough to get employees in the inactive 80% camp to start moving. 

Corporate fitness is not an “if you build it, they will come” proposition. Having the right staff on board can make a big difference on utilization of spaces and programs through the fitness center. But you have to build the space from a user’s perspective in order to provide opportunities to maximize the programming that invites new participants. 

Your fitness management staff should be able to keep track of key metrics as well as provide a variety of programs (including group fitness classes) and services designed to draw in more users on a regular basis. 

Establishing the best possible layout will make a difference for users.

Thoughtful design will take into account the quantity and types of equipment needed in the space, as well as intended uses for the environment. For example, if you have an employee audience with an insatiable appetite for group fitness classes, don’t skimp on your studio space. Make it large enough to accommodate anticipated volume, and equip it with the right types of storage to house the group class toys. Carefully research what’s needed for the group fitness stereo, and pay close attention to work areas adjacent to the studio space to make sure that soundproofing is available where needed. 

Adequate locker room and shower space is a must, and easy access to drinking water is essential. Flooring surfaces need to be carefully considered along with where to place mirrors, how to orient equipment near and around windows, and what staff office/desk spaces will accommodate. 

And you should rely 100% on your architectural team to provide all of those elements for the space initially. But it’s not reasonable to expect that team to understand, from an operator’s perspective, how your fitness staff and employees will work and exercise in the space. Unless your architect had a previous career managing a corporate fitness center, my experience is that the architect might miss some key elements in the design that would ultimately inhibit the end-user experience.

If this brief outline of key design and program elements for your fitness center has you thinking you might be in over your head, check out our fitness center design sampling, or contact me to talk through the questions brought on from reading this post.

Topics: corporate fitness centers participation corporate wellness staffing fitness center design equipment

What If: Your Corporate Fitness Center Was Free of Intimidation?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well. Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing. We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which to write, or by finding us out on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

To build this “What If” series of blogs, I polled our staff about their desires and dreams for their members and clients, and I have to admit, I was a little surprised that so many of our staff gave me feedback about building a corporate fitness center that their members could visit without guilt and intimidation. Apparently corporate shaming is still alive and well, and we as health and fitness professionals have a long way to go toward building member confidence in the fitness center.

So for this blog I’m going to run through the things that lead to perceptions of guilt as well as what we can do to build corporate environments that support the individual who takes care of his health. I’ll also be breaking down that intimidation factor to look at ways we can provide better support to our less confident members.

stern_bossManagement Doesn’t Support Staff Taking Their Break Time to Work Out

Somehow, we still have managers who think that butts in the seats all day long is the best way to get employees to be productive. Science would tell us otherwise, and I offered three different studies on this very topic in an earlier blog (3 Reasons to Add a Corporate Fitness Center to Your Wellness Program).

I understand there are quotas to be met, and I’m not saying companies should throw those to the wind. Absolutely, the business runs on meeting those goals, and no, the goals can’t be met when employees are working out and not working. But there’s a break point, for all of us (yes, even for you), where we start to lose focus and where we no longer do our best work. The managers who are still looking down their noses at employees who need an activity break should ask themselves which employee is a more effective partner in reaching the quota:

  • An employee who stays put and decreases in effectiveness throughout the course of the day, or
  • The employee who takes the company-allowed break to clear his head while lifting weights or walking on the treadmill and returns to his seat refreshed and ready to continue working?

Businesses have very little policy in place on how an employee uses a designated lunch or other break time, so why would management offer disdain for the employee who chooses to take a group fitness class at lunch?

And here’s the other consequence of unsupportive management: Not only do employees feel guilty for using their time (yes, it’s their time) that way, but they realize that maintaining good health is not important to their boss. Thus it becomes increasingly difficult for the employee to keep that as a personal and professional priority.

So how do we turn this cultural challenge around? I wish I had all the right answers. But I think the fixes for this situation are as unique as the client environment, and your ability to nudge this kind of change requires creativity and tremendous amounts of persistence. Cultural change is indeed slow, and very hard. But when an organization figures out its priorities for the business, and they include supporting wellbeing for the employees, you have a lot of opportunity to creatively help individuals move more.

We worked hard in one client setting with a high percentage of call-center employees to turn around middle management’s image that the employees absolutely and without exception HAD to be on the phones. Through a program that, ironically, was not based in their corporate fitness center, we were able to help employees get up and moving on a more regular basis. In fact, in the first four months of this program, 33 percent more participants reported walking at work at least five times per week. We had such fantastic results with this program, we wrote an eBook about it called The Cure for Sitting Disease.

Employees Who Most Need to Use the Corporate Fitness Center Are Often the Most Intimidated by It

This intimidation issue is at the heart of what NIFS does. We’re a fitness center management organization that specializes in placing amazing staff in our clients’ corporate fitness centers to run the operation. The first step to breaking down a barrier of intimidation is having the right people on board to assist any of your employees. Your fitness staff needs to possess a unique blend of compassion and desire to work with everyone, along with technical expertise for prescribing and teaching exercise.

Why You Might Be Wrong About Outsourcing Fitness Center Management

 

And then, with the right motivated fitness specialists in your fitness center, you can start to build programs that work. Personal Fitness Quest is a positive example of such a program opportunity geared toward individual members who need the most support. We call it our alternative to personal training, and it continues to be one of the most popular offerings we have across our client sites. Skeletone is another successful program, though unlike Personal Fitness Quest, it’s geared more toward the whole membership audience as we set up stepwise inspiration for them to be more active in the fitness center. For the duration of this program, we increased monthly visits by 23 percent over the previous month and saw a whopping 40 percent increase in active members who attended the fitness center at least eight times or more compared with the preceding month.

Another strategy for overcoming the intimidation issue is to understand it better, and surveys can be a helpful information-gathering tool for this purpose. Sometimes, members will simply offer their feedback, but you probably have a whole crew of employees who haven’t come through the doors in a while (some of whom stay away because they feel intimidated) and who aren’t likely to walk right in offering why they’ve stayed clear of the fitness center. Surveys—when used carefully—can be a great tool for continuous feedback about areas for improvement.

Guilt and intimidation aren’t easy issues to tackle, but they clearly get in the way of employees’ success with exercising regularly at work. What have you tried with success at your office to break down these typical barriers? I’d love to hear about your experiences with these concepts (personally and professionally) because we can all learn and do better with dialog that is truthful and solution-based.

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness centers productivity what if

3 Reasons to Add a Corporate Fitness Center to Your Wellness Program

Business man on ellipticalCosts for care, costs for absenteeism, vendor costs, the cost of doing nothing…there has been a lot of chatter and posturing online recently about this information as it relates to corporate wellness. In case you’re not quite up to speed on all the cost-related information, here’s an infographic that will give you some compelling, high-level numbers and information to digest. As corporate wellness goes, there’s a ton out there on ROI too. Whether it’s accurate is up for debate depending on who's doing the talking.

If you’ve read anything we’ve put out over the last several years, you know that NIFS falls into the “do for your employees, not to your employees” camp when it comes to workplace wellness. When you treat your employees well and you provide the right services and amenities for the right reasons, there will be value to the business.

While an onsite fitness center isn’t the right choice for every business, it is an amenity that falls squarely into our “for your employees” philosophy. If you have any heart for taking care of your employees like you take care of your business, here are three reasons you should be strongly considering adding a fitness center to your overall worksite wellness strategy.

#1: Taking Care of Your Talent

Your talented people are what make your business thrive. Technology matters, bricks and mortar play a role (most of the time), and other physical and cultural elements contribute to your success, but at the end of the day, it’s your people who make your business what it is. And you’re counting on them to perform at the top of their game.

Making it easy for your employees to exercise (through a corporate fitness center, for example) is one way to keep your smart and highly valuable employees using their talents for the benefit of your business. Compelling research has shown that adults who exercise reap more than just the physical benefits of movement.

  • This study shows that work-related benefits following a bout of exercise can include improved quality of work and better time management. The study also showed that exercise contributed positively toward an employee’s tolerance of his/her coworkers. And who couldn’t benefit from a more tolerant atmosphere?
  • This study shows that creativity is better following aerobic exercise and for at least a two-hour span after the exercise has been completed.
  • This article points out how we believe regular exercise can positively impact stress. And before you write off stress as a non-issue for the workplace, take a look at this data from an annual poll of American workers regarding workplace stress. (Bonus: you can take our own stress inventory at the end!)

[Related Content: 5 Tips to Help Your Employees Move More]

#2: Taking Care of Their Health

The physical health benefits of regular exercise are so well documented that I won’t bore you with study after study here. Let me instead take this opportunity to remind you of how easy it is to support your employees as they search for ways to get in the minimum recommended levels of exercise each day or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week.

What you may not realize is that the health benefits of exercise can still be achieved if the 150 minutes is broken up into very small increments throughout the day. Yes, 10 to 15 minutes of movement two to three times each day is enough. So you can start to see the math add up on allowing flexible schedules for walk breaks, or short group exercise class opportunities, as viable ways to help your crew move more.  

#3: Taking Care of Your Turnover

A corporate fitness center falls squarely under the “Employee Benefits” category, and the link between benefits and turnover has been well studied. Turnover, although regarded by some as a positive for business (fresh ideas, new energy, "lose the dead weight", etc.), is still expensive.

  • This Gallup report outlines how to predict employee turnover, and points to pay and benefits as one of the top five predictors for employee turnover.
  • This Forbes article puts the spotlight on how treating employees well by providing them with access to “resources that support well-being and performance” has a positive but difficult-to-quantify impact on employees. The article spotlights the Virgin HealthMiles/Workforce survey, which showed that 87 percent of polled employees give consideration to employer-sponsored health and well-being offerings before they choose to commit to an offer.

If you’ve had enough of the statistics, reports, and research, perhaps you’re ready to dig in on the options for creating a corporate fitness center. Click below to access our Guide for Successful Fitness Centers for a better understanding about the fitness center footprint, staffing and programs you can expect for your employees.

Download Our Guide >

Topics: corporate wellness employee health benefits corporate fitness centers ROI corporate fitness centers; return on investement productivity