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

Avoid an Empty Corporate Fitness Center with These Ideas

B130001.jpgThere are a variety of reasons for you, as a business owner, to set up a corporate fitness center for your employees; employee recruitment and retention are certainly among them. Increasingly, access to some form of exercise at work is becoming an expectation. It’s also not unreasonable to build a corporate fitness center because you actually expect it will help your employees be more active, which can lead to a variety of individual health benefits and possibly some productivity and loyalty benefits for the business.

But establishing a corporate fitness center for your employees is not an “if you build it, they will come” phenomenon. After all, only about 15–17% of the U.S. population owns a gym membership. If you want your employees to have opportunities to exercise, dedicating some space on campus for exercise is a good first step, but it’s not the end of the story. Following is a checklist of steps you need to carefully consider to avoid an empty corporate fitness center and ensure your fitness center is set up for success, both for your business and for your employees.

Do you have the right collection of equipment and amenities in your fitness center?

I've seen corporate fitness centers that run the gamut from fairly bare-bones to spaces that would rival high-end clubs. Fancy matters much less than function. If you don't intend to provide expert staff in the space, you need to have equipment that your employees can use without instruction. Some of the newer functional training equipment isn't all that intuitive; be careful what you buy or only the most sophisticated exerciser will be able to put your equipment to effective use.

If you want to offer group fitness classes in your space, you'll need to have enough room to host the classes; consider 40–60SF per participant (don't forget to count the instructor!). Also keep in mind that your classes will increase volume in the fitness center and you'll want your locker room spaces to accommodate those peak-use times fairly well. With 28 years in the business, I can assure you that employees will stop coming if the locker room situation involves fighting for space.

Do you have the right leadership for the corporate fitness space/programs?

The single best way to maximize employee use of your corporate fitness center is to provide staff who manage the environment. Yes, there is a cost for that, but before you assume you don't want to pay it, consider the ramifications because here's how it plays out. Without staff to support and educate employees, the same 10% of your employees who exercise now are the ones who will use your fitness center. And the employees you're really trying to serve won't try something new in your corporate fitness space because they aren't sure what steps to take.

So committing to the fitness center space but not the fitness center staffing is building a gym for the employees who are exercising anyway. That's a pretty substantial investment for the employees who don't really stand to benefit from it.

Finding the right corporate fitness management partner doesn't have to be hard, and before you assume hiring out for that role is a horrible idea, check out this blog that addresses common misconceptions on outsourcing corporate fitness management. If you're still convinced your business is better off managing your fitness program in house, here are some suggestions for hiring your own corporate fitness manager.

Do you have a healthy culture that supports employees choosing to exercise during their time at work?

Employees spend more time commuting to and from work and actually at work than they spend anyplace else. Inviting them to exercise while they're already at the office may be our best hope for helping adults move more. But if taking a full 60-minute lunch break to work out is frowned upon by management, your corporate fitness center will stay mostly empty. If employees don't see their leadership making healthy choices a priority, your fitness center will remain a ghost town. It's not enough to have "break-time" policies written into your handbook. You have to lead by example and you have to make it okay for your management team to engage in the behaviors you want to see.

 Webinar Series: The Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Topics: corporate fitness corporate fitness managment health culture nifs fitness center management equipment staffing corporate fitness center

Why Group Fitness Belongs in Your Corporate Wellness Program

I’ve never been that into group fitness. I’m simply more of a solo exerciser. But starting my career managing corporate fitness centers, it became clear to me very quickly that my personal philosophy about where group classes fit into my routine was counter to a sizable minority of members in the facilities I supported.

There is something about that group dynamic that works for participants. Whether it’s the energy of others, the instructor who tells you what to do, or the music that moves your feet, something draws participants in and keeps them coming back.


Mixed Adherence and Retention Results

Researchers have long been studying variables that can influence exercise adherence; and to date, outcomes from various studies have been in conflict. For example, the S.W.E.A.T. study on women ages 40 to 65 showed that group-based exercise in a “center” setting compared with home-based individual exercise netted better retention. But other research indicates that home-based interventions demonstrated better adherence over time.

We do know that positive social support from both staff and peers directly in the exercise setting is important, and group classes provide a built-in social network. Also, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) polled gym members for their primary areas of participation and found that about 43% of gym members participate in group exercise.

NIFS Poll Shows Benefits of Group Fitness Classes

Anecdotally, I know of several individuals who have been able to dramatically improve their health primarily through group classes. So when we polled our NIFS corporate group fitness class participants about their experiences with our classes, I wasn’t terribly surprised at the results.

We polled all employees at our client locations in Indianapolis, Indiana, where we’re offering group fitness classes. In some cases, we’re providing only classes at a location, whereas in other locations we’re managing the corporate fitness center along with providing classes. Here’s what we learned:

  • Just over one-third of responders indicated that NIFS group fitness classes were their primary source of exercise through the week.
  • Almost 80% indicated that they exercise more often because of the group fitness classes available at their office.
  • Roughly three quarters of responders noted personal health improvements since they started taking group classes with NIFS instructors.
  • A full 96% indicated that the classes at their worksite were a definite employee perk.

The numbers tell us that group fitness is still a fantastic way for employers to create exercise opportunities for their employees. It’s a low-cost (or no-cost if employees pay) option that doesn’t require much equipment or space, and it can net positive health outcomes for employees. It just may earn you loyalty points as well.

If you’re sold on the idea of adding group exercise classes to your corporate wellness offerings but aren’t sure where to start, check out this blog and our quick read.

Download our 3 Keys to Adding Group Fitness Classes at Work!

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Topics: group exercise corporate fitness motivation NIFS corporate fitness managment data

The Alternative to Personal Training in Corporate Fitness

personal trainingLet me start by saying I’m not here to dog personal training. There is absolutely a niche for that fee-based service, and there is clearly a clientele for it. It should definitely remain an option in fitness centers.

But sometimes, there are people in corporate fitness client settings who simply cannot afford the service. And the real rub is that often, the people who can’t afford it are the ones who would benefit the most from it. If you’re a trainer, you know what I’m talking about.

If you’re charged with overseeing outcomes from your corporate fitness program, you may be pulling out your hair trying to figure out how to get more people exercising on a regular basis. Personal training could help, but again, you're stuck with that price point issue that makes the service out of reach for many.  

The research is clear: moving more is good for your health and sitting is WAY worse than we thought.  

More Personal Attention Without a Personal Trainer

But let’s face it, for someone who is new to exercise or who, for whatever reason, is intimidated by the gym, a little hand-holding from a compassionate and capable professional can go a long way toward boosting the confidence of an unsure individual. The struggle is how to create opportunities for that hand-holding that don’t cross the line into fee-based personal training.

Fortunately, we’ve landed on a service that has proven to be a major value-add both for our clients and for their employees. Personal Fitness Quest, NIFS’s alternative to personal training, was born out of our staff routinely encountering the challenge of trying to invite more members to exercise regularly as a way to improve their health, and knocking up against people who needed more than a little instruction. Here are a few snippets of success stories from the service.

Corporate Fitness Success Profiles

Joyce’s Story: In January 2011 I started working out consistently. After working out with Adrienne through my Personal Fitness Quest, I started to feel more confident. I later joined Weight Watchers and almost three years later, I’m 80 pounds lighter, off my blood pressure meds, and feeling great!

Jen’s Story: When I started my first Personal Fitness Quest, I was walking for exercise. My NIFS staff trainer whipped me into shape and in that first six weeks I lost 11 pounds and seven inches. Since then, I’ve completed two more Personal Fitness Quests with the NIFS staff as well as started other healthy behaviors. As of July 2013, I had lost 115 pounds.

Julie’s Story: In August 2012, I started my first Personal Fitness Quest with Anne. She had me do things I didn’t think I could or wouldn’t try. I complained and whined but she said I’m the only person who smiled the entire time. After a year and a half, I’ve learned a whole new way to exercise and I’m thrilled to say I’ve lost more than 60 pounds and almost 40 inches.

Learn how you can implement a personal fitness quest program at your corporate fitness center by signing up for NIFS best practice series.  

Topics: corporate fitness program corporate fitness weight loss NIFS corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment best practices Fitness Center personal trainers CORP Programs and Services

Two Key Things Your Wellness Program May Be Missing

staff working with residentAt NIFS, we work in both corporate and senior living settings supporting client wellness strategies. After having done that work in diverse environments for various audiences over the last 25 years, we’ve learned a thing or two about what really works when you’re trying to promote living well.

Below are two key elements your wellness program may be missing.

1: The People

We’ve hired hundreds of qualified wellness professionals to work with our many clients over the last two decades. And we’ve made some hiring mistakes. But we’ve learned from those situations and cultivated a more comprehensive interview and an effective onboarding process.

[Related Content: Tips for Hiring Your Own Fitness Professional]

Hire well and you’ll be well on your way to cultivating significant and meaningful opportunities for well-living for your employees or residents. If you don’t hire well for wellness, your strategy, programs, or initiatives are destined for mediocrity at best.

If you don’t know what skills and abilities you need for your wellness strategy, consider outsourcing your staffing to a partner. Let them be your expert so that you can spend your time and energy running your business.

2: The Program

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: wellness is not rocket science. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require strategic thinking and thoughtful planning. Wellness services should be part of a larger vision that is focused on creating engaging opportunities for well-living.

There is no shortage of valuable resources available for program ideas online. Join a few LinkedIn groups and you’ll soon begin to see engaging ideas and thoughtful discussion that can help take your programming to the next level. Or subscribe to our blog for digestable on-the-ground tips for wellness practitioners as well as high level strategy solutions for wellness leaders.

And let’s talk a little bit about data. How are you gathering it? What are you doing with the data you have? Burying your head in the sand on data is not an answer. I’ve written before on how to gather data that you can actually use in your wellness program. You really can’t afford to continue the work without making legitimate attempts to measure what you’re managing. Otherwise, how will you ever know if your efforts are making the desired impact?

Looking for Best Practice Ideas?

Since we’re all about sharing the love and getting best practices out there for you to run with, I am very excited to announce our upcoming Best Practice Series that will launch in February 2014. There are two tracks:

Why not jumpstart your creativity with a little something that's worked in a similar environment for a similar audience.  (Who doesn't want their job to be a little easier?!)  

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness program senior wellness programs senior fitness management corporate fitness managment corporate wellness staffing

Why Capturing Corporate Fitness Center ROI Is Like Spotting a Unicorn

unicornFact:

Generating reliable and accurate ROI on a corporate wellness program (I mean the whole thing--biometric screenings, absenteeism, presenteeism, HRA, wellness programming/activities, EAP, etc.) is really, really, really challenging. It requires lots of money, and lots of really smart people who’ve done that kind of work more than once or twice.

Fact:

Piecing out the impact of your corporate fitness center as a standalone element and then determining reliable and accurate ROI from that single piece of your overall strategy is, well, about as likely as spotting a unicorn.

You may be thinking to yourself, “But wait…I just saw an article on ROI for corporate fitness and that said 3:1 or 5:1 or 7:1 returns were possible. What’s with the unicorns and the impossibility of calculating ROI for corporate fitness?” It’s true that there is a continuous stream of articles about wellness ROI, and I suspect that there are business development teams for corporate wellness vendors who are armed to the gills with literature that “proves” why their service/product generates the best ROI for said client.

You see, there’s a lot of posturing in the corporate wellness market. The industry boasts some very powerful vendors--some of whom have the money and smarts to do the work required in order to generate reliable and accurate ROI. The industry also has a lot of other vendors who don’t have those tools, but who are still competing against those who do. Of this second group, there are two types: the vendor who reports ROI that is neither reliable nor accurate (unicorn anyone?), and the vendor who doesn’t report ROI.

Honestly, it’s time for employers to stop beating the ROI drum. (And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Read this article, or this one, or this one.)

ROI is hard to capture because corporate wellness is complex. There are a lot of moving parts, and to date, the industry has not been able to come together on metrics that are consistent. While this is true for most of the agreed-upon elements of a corporate wellness strategy, let’s just pull out corporate fitness to get a sense of the level of complexity we’re dealing with overall.

There are a variety of data points that can be captured for corporate fitness programs:

Membership:

Any vendor worth its salt will have some kind of prescreening process in place that, once completed, will allow the employee to join the fitness center. (Don’t just take my word for it; check out the standards provided by the American College of Sports Medicine in its Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines text.) Some vendors skip this process and everyone is instantly a member because they are employees. So the organization with this process instantly reports higher membership (100%!) than the vendor who requires a responsible process be completed prior to gaining membership.

Fitness assessments:

Field tests to assess the fitness level of a participant are highly variable and the chosen tests can sway the results depending on the population. It’s the nature of a field test; they aren’t as accurate as in the lab.

Visit data:

By now, software to track utilization is widely available at fairly minimal cost. However, if the business isn’t willing to pay for the software, fitness staff are left to track visit data with a manual tally. In either case, software or sign-in sheets, there are issues that can result in significant errors in data collection. Even if we forgive those errors or find a way to account for them, vendors count visit groups differently. “Frequent visitors” might be represented by members with at least one visit per month for vendor A, but vendor B may determine that at least one visit per week is required to achieve “frequent visitor” status.

Mixing those variables quickly creates a lot of inconsistency from one program to the next, making it exceptionally hard to compare apples to apples. Then you have other related data to consider—like gym membership subsidy and how to count employee-users of that benefit against or with your corporate fitness center users. Similarly, how do you capture the value, health benefits, and cost of employees who never step foot in the corporate fitness center but maintain their own exercise regimen at home?

So if your CFO isn’t going to sniff out ROI on your corporate wellness strategy or any of the individual elements like your worksite fitness center, what should you be looking to for data and outcomes you can believe? Rest assured, I’m not suggesting we revert back to all fluff and feel-good for employee wellness. As an alternative to traditional ROI, consider shifting your thinking toward value. To find out more about what I mean, check a two-part blog I wrote about a year ago where I outlined some ways to think about value from your corporate fitness center. You can read part one here and part two here.

If you're looking for how to build the very best corporate fitness center you can for your employees, consider our short webinar series:  The Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers.

Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers
Topics: corporate fitness corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment ROI data collection corporate fitness centers; return on investement data

NIFS Fitness Management: Fitness Tricks and Treats

Fitness Tricks and Treats

Curious how many steps you need to take to burn off that Halloween candy?

Check out this Halloween Treat Calorie Counter

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Topics: corporate fitness nifs fitness management NIFS corporate fitness managment health and wellness

Why Fitness Initiatives Fail in Corporate Wellness: Truth #4

ROIIn truth #1 of this four-part blog, I started to climb on my soapbox about measuring ROI in corporate wellness. (I’ll spare you the rant; you can reread the blog if you’d like.) Suffice it to say that I am not an expert at calculating ROI. NIFS is not an organization that touts ROI among our selling points. That’s right, I can’t tell you the return on investing in a corporate fitness center (and I sure as heck am not going to make something up!).

But don’t confuse our lack of skills for ROI analysis with a general lack of drive for data. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Ask my staff; they can just about recite from memory my key points on the importance of evaluating the programs they’re running and the services they’re providing to determine impact.

Here’s the thing about evaluation: truth #1, truth #2, and truth #3 matter a lot less when you aren’t taking the time to be strategic about what you’re doing with exercise programming for your employees. If you’re just going to slap spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, why bother? There are too many tasks competing for your precious time to not implement your corporate wellness initiatives wisely.

Truth #4: Fitness initiatives fail as part of a corporate wellness strategy because evaluation of the programs isn’t incorporated into program design.

Raise your hand if any of these points sounds like something you want to do for your corporate wellness program:

  • Make the case for more money, more staff, more support, and more respect.
  • Spend time on programs that are really making an impact.
  • Drill down to the tougher issues in corporate wellness, like sustained participation.
  • Observe and act on trends over time in participation, completion rates, and overall impact for similarly situated initiatives.

With a comprehensive evaluation strategy in place for your corporate wellness programs, you can accomplish most, if not all, of those things. I know because that’s exactly what we do for our corporate fitness management clients.

A Breakthrough 

Several years ago, I spent a lot of time wracking my brain trying to figure out how we could jump into the ROI game. But I kept getting stalled at our lack of access to all the data, the variables I couldn’t account for, and my extremely limited knowledge of statistics. It seemed like there must be some door I needed to open that would reveal the secret formula I needed to get to the next steps. But I couldn’t find that door for my life.

Then I heard Ron Goetzel speak at the American Journal of Health Promotion conference. During his seminar he pretty much just came out and said it. I, me, myself, could not calculate ROI alone. I would need a team, and some (a lot of) money and it would be much broader than our small impact in a corporate fitness program.

After I got over a mixture of disappointment (I had been so sure I could figure it out!) and relief, I got to thinking about what I could do that focused on data and ultimately evaluated effectiveness of our programs and services. In the end, we built an evaluation framework that made sense for us and allowed us to (1) prove our worth for our clients who had invited us to manage their fitness centers as part of their wellness program, and (2) communicate better information to our members who were counting on us to help them improve their health.

Building the Case for Corporate Wellness

So let me spare you my investigational roller coaster because what was true for me is likely also true for you: you probably don’t have what you need to really calculate ROI from your corporate wellness program. But let’s face it, even the most generous of CEOs won’t throw cash at initiatives indefinitely. You will need to build a case for the effectiveness of your efforts early on. When you can begin drafting your initiatives with an end in mind where you set out SMART goals and then evaluate your progress against those goals, you have what you need to start building your case.

In our experience, though, it’s not just about setting goals and then looking back at the data to see if you achieved them. That’s only part of the evaluation framework. The other part is looking at impact, and impact can be measured when you look at your communication strategy, how effectively the program is run, and what participation rates and completion rates are.

When you start to piece out those specific impact-related elements, you can get a sense of opportunities for improvement that lie within your initiatives. For example, maybe you learned through a post-program survey that your communication strategy wasn’t focused on the best avenue to reach your designated population. Perhaps that group would rather receive a postcard invitation than an email. And poof—just like that you have some actionable data on which you can start improving the next offering. But if you didn’t plan out the initiative with the concept of offering a post-program survey that would assess program communication, you have no data on which to act.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating here: We’re not experts at all things corporate wellness. But I strongly submit that if this evaluation strategy works for our corporate fitness initiatives, it’ll work for other areas of your wellness programming, too. And if you want to read more about the “how-to” of program evaluation, check out our blog: 4 Keys to Getting Wellness Program Data You Can Actually Use.

Looking for one resource that contains all four of these truths about why corporate fitness initiatives fail in corporate wellness?  Download our eBook for the full series.

CORP Initiatives

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness corporate fitness managment ROI engagement

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Band Workout

Free Workout FridayDo you feel that you have to use machines or dumbbells to get a good strength workout? Well, it’s time to think outside of the box and incorporate resistance bands into your workout. In the past, bands were seen for older adults because they may not make you sore or you don’t feel they are as intense. Bands are great to throw in your bag or car while traveling because they don’t take up much space and aren’t near as heavy to carry around.

One advantage to using bands is you have to use your muscles to control the band throughout the entire lift. Usually with dumbbells there is a part of the lift where you’re not using much muscle control. If it’s not burning your muscles at the end of a resistance band workout, then double up! That’s right; grab two thicker bands for added intensity.

When using bands, think slow and controlled movements! You need to control the band, don’t let the band control you. Adding in holds & pulses with your reps really helps to “feel the burn”. Try this band workout at least a couple times a month to mix up your strength workouts. Also, keep your eye out for a part two to this blog incorporating partner band exercises.

  • Band underneath both feet, wide squats with an outer thigh lift (alternating legs on the lift). 40 squats total, 20 outer thigh lifts on each side
  • Band underneath front foot, lunges (add intensity by bringing the band handles up by shoulders or higher). 20 on each leg
  • Band underneath both feet, outer thigh walks back & forth. 1 minute
  • Band underneath both feet for added intensity or under one foot for less intensity, bicep curls. 20 reps
  • Band underneath both feet, arms straight by sides, tricep pulses, push the back away from your body. 1 minute
  • Band underneath both feet; place both handles in front of your body, grabbing both handles with both hands, upright rows (elbows come up high than your wrist). 20 reps.
  • Repeat!

Fit tip - the thicker the band, the higher the resistance, so pick your poison by challenging yourself!

Topics: Free Workout Friday fitness corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment

How to Combat Sitting, a Workplace Health Crisis (Part 2)

woman using exercise bandIn part 1 of this blog, I went on a bit about the dangers of sitting and then began to describe NIFS’s Fit-It-In program offered by Kathy, one of our managers at a client site. We’re proud to share that Kathy’s initiative, a collaboration with her client, was a large part of the reason her client was able to win the American Heart Association’s Fit-Friendly Company Platinum Designation and the Workplace Innovation Award in 2013.

Fit-It-In was conceived to help her associates combat sitting disease. While the program itself is creative and well thought out, the most compelling element (and probably the single biggest contributor to the program’s success) was Kathy’s effective outreach to mid-level managers for their support of the initiative.  

We knew Kathy was successful at achieving supervisor support when we got this data back from a participant survey: The pre-program survey revealed that 70% of associates felt they had the support of their immediate supervisor to participate in programs that would improve their health; however, by the end of the program that number had improved to 96%.

Below I outline some of the key elements of Fit-It-In as well as some important lessons learned. I also share the compelling data that screams “effective employee health program.”

Bringing Fit-It-In to the Masses

After Kathy garnered the support she needed from executive leadership and mid-level managers at her client location, she set about launching Fit-It-In. With the help of the wellness team at her site, she was able to purchase a fitness band with handles for each associate in that office. Then she started educating the masses on how to use their new band. Through one-on-one meetings in the fitness center, speaking at department meetings, hosting exercise breaks (“flash mobs”), and providing handouts and other literature (which was regularly changed and updated throughout the program) in strategic areas of the building, she was able to reach most of the associate audience more than one time.

Following an educational blitz, Kathy continued her efforts to be routinely visible for the associates both in the client’s onsite fitness center promoting short, 15-minute workouts, and at department meetings. She facilitated stretch breaks, walking groups, and other simple opportunities for associates to infuse some physical activity into their otherwise sedentary day.

Capturing Health Promotion Success in Numbers

If you read part 1 of this blog, you’ll recall that I described this program as “conceptually simple.” It is. The elements I’ve mentioned are the types of services being offered by corporate health professionals all over the country on a regular basis. What is unique about Fit-It-In is the level of managerial support Kathy garnered as well as the rigorous data she kept throughout the program.

Kathy started with a pre-program survey that captured information such as this:

  • How many hours per day are you sedentary?
  • Have you maintained consistent workouts in the past month?
  • Do you feel that you have the support of your manager to maintain your health through amenities and services available at work?

As the program progressed, she surveyed associates monthly to find out if they were participating in Fit-It-In activities, and if so, how often they were engaging in specific elements of the program. Here’s what we learned:

  • Within the first four months of launching Fit-It-In, the percentage of associates participating in any activity over the course of the month increased 34%.
  • The percentage of associates who completed the Fit-It-In band exercises at their desks three to four days per week increased 42%.
  • In the first four months of the program, 33% more associates were walking at work at least five times per week.

The data goes on, and on, and on. As I said, Kathy surveys participants monthly to track progress and to continually evaluate opportunities to fine-tune and improve the program.

Program Costs and Lessons Learned

It’s important to note that while this was an uncomplicated program, it wasn’t free. I’ve outlined basic program costs here:

  • Fitness band for 600 associates @ $5/band = $3,000
  • Monthly prize @ $200 per prize = $2,400
  • Monthly stairwell challenge @ $50 per month = $300
  • Presentation board, prepping walking routes, and other miscellaneous supplies = $200
  • Estimated 12-month total = $5,900

Every well-executed program comes with some lessons learned. When I talked to Kathy about this, here’s what she told me:

  • Providing associates with multiple quick exercise/activities, not just one option, was integral to reaching the needs of a varied workforce. Some activities, like the fitness band use and stairwell challenges, worked well for call center associates, while outdoor and indoor walking routes were popular for those who could take more time.
  • We can’t say it enough: middle management buy-in is essential to changing culture. Without the rally meeting sponsored by human resources where management could hear Kathy make the case for the importance of this initiative and provide their feedback, she would not have had the success we saw with the year-long offering.
  • One key subtle difference between this program and others like it is that Kathy incentivized associates reporting their activity instead of offering prizes for completing the activity. Ongoing self reporting required associates to log into a survey tool and answer questions. By doing so each month, they were eligible for a valuable (typically around $200) monthly prize drawing.

Contact us to learn more about this program or the other services NIFS provides to our clients. If you’re looking for key strategies to engage your workforce, check out our whitepaper on the topic.

 

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work employee health corporate fitness worksite wellness corporate fitness managment corporate fitness centers; return on investement