Emily Davenport, on Tue, Oct 6, 2020
While many have come to appreciate the convenience of working at home, the impact it can create on a sense of routine is far-reaching. When you head into the office for the day, it can be easier to honor that me-time in your schedule to squeeze in a group fitness class or work out in the onsite fitness center. When you are working from home, the distractions of the dishes in the sink, laundry in the dryer, and kids trying to complete homework can compete for those precious spare minutes of downtime you have between meetings and work obligations.
The work-at-home culture of COVID-19 has shown us just how much employees value and miss the onsite fitness centers provided to them by their employers. It’s convenient, easily accessible, and a great way to maintain consistency in an exercise routine with qualified staffing support at their fingertips.
Luckily for NIFS’ corporate clients, our staff are staying connected to their members and creatively supporting their health and fitness needs remotely with NIFS HealthYou virtual programming. Here are the top three requests we are hearing from our members right now on what they need to stay active and well while working from home.
While employees greatly miss the onsite fitness centers, the fitness specialists from NIFS are helping to fill these needs for the employees of our corporate clients. NIFS’ HealthYou service model has long been supporting wellness programming for employers without onsite fitness centers and for remote workers. Employees have access to our amazing staff and a variety of resources including a HealthYou portal and NIFS exercise programming software to remain connected to the resources they need.
It may feel like an unusual time to launch a corporate fitness program for your employees, but the need is there. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation call on NIFS HealthYou services to support your employees while they work remotely today and see how our model can adapt as you bring employees back to the office in the months ahead.
This blog was written by Emily Davenport. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.
Emily Davenport, on Wed, Sep 18, 2019
Variety is the spice of life, and that’s what we’ll have in town this week at our annual managers’ meeting. Each year we fly our management team to our headquarters in Indianapolis for professional development, collaboration, and networking. Our passionate team arrives from across the U.S. from different client settings and with varying personal interests and backgrounds. Their one commonality is their passion for serving their members, and we love the dialogue and collaboration that unfold when everyone gets together.
This connection and access to a wealth of resources is one of the strongest value elements we bring to our clients. They receive our onsite fitness staff managing their program and building relationships with members, plus the expertise of a national organization doing this work across the U.S. How does this routine collaboration truly elevate a fitness program?
So what do you do if you aren’t connected to an organization like NIFS to help keep your staff connected?
This collaboration is where the magic happens in taking a fitness program from good to great!
Emily Davenport, on Mon, Mar 25, 2019
Clients regularly ask me whether we have any recommendations or contacts for certain exercise equipment, or if we have any successful models in place for collaborating with rehab departments or cafeteria vendors. The bulk of our contacts in the world of fitness are with current clients where we have our professional staff on the ground managing their fitness program, or with consulting clients where we are providing support and resources to enhance their existing program. However, we also have a large network of industry contacts that we partner with, allowing us to (1) provide the quality service we do to our clients and (2) support other businesses outside of a client setting.
Once clients experience the ease of replacing their cardio equipment or launching a multi-vendor wellness initiative with our support, they recognize the added value that expertise brings to the partnership they have with NIFS. I love seeing clients supported on both sides—with our passionate staff on the ground in their fitness center serving their members, as well as with our administrative support helping guide their leadership team’s decision-making on broader facility and program needs.
Read on to learn about the relationships we build and the scope of our reach in supporting clients in 14 states across the US.
While the fitness industry can be full of fads, an ability to build strong relationships is a trend that will never go out of style and is essential for the success of any fitness program. We pride ourselves on the relationships we build with our clients, members, and vendor partners and love bridging new connections for clients to enhance their programs.
Bethany Garrity, on Mon, Mar 12, 2018
Including a corporate fitness center in your menu of employee wellness benefits is worth considering. It takes away a few common excuses people use for not exercising by being convenient and low or no cost for employees to use. But if you think that simply putting a fitness center into your office space is a key answer to lowering your health care costs, you’re mistaken. And, if lowering your health care costs is your primary motivator for funding a corporate fitness center, you may want to reconsider that position because generating ROI figures specific to your onsite fitness program is almost impossible.
If you're still with me because you think a corporate fitness center is on the list of the right things to do to help your employees be well, then consider the myths below that may hold back the success of your worksite fitness initiatives.
No, friends, “they” won’t. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that just under 22% of adults age 18 and older self-report meeting the physical activity guidelines. Because that data is self-reported, it’s probably inflated. If this snapshot is representative of your workforce (and it probably is), then your employees aren’t as active as they should be for optimal health. But simply putting a fitness center in your building won't automatically make inactive employees start exercising. Solely dedicating a space and putting some equipment in, is no guarantee that it won't quickly become a ghost town.
One key to making your fitness center more effective is providing engaging and qualified staff to both manage the center, AND provide key services/support for employees. Without fitness center staff, you are building a corporate fitness center for the 15-20% of your workforce who are already regular exercisers. That said, if you built your corporate fitness center to be a nice amenity and you don’t really care if it’s being used, then carry on. But, if you’re truly interested in helping people adopt physical activity into their lives, consider getting the right staff in there to pull your fence sitters (“Maybe I’ll try it Monday”) off the fence and into the fitness center.
One manager’s “carrot” is another employee’s “stick”. A lack of employee engagement can’t be fixed with HSA money or t-shirts. It’s likely that your employees aren’t participating for reasons much deeper than the extrinsic rewards you’re willing to lay at their feet.
An individual’s ability to be well goes WAY beyond biometric screenings and an HRA. Research tells us that zip code does more to determine our health than our genes. Employers have zero control over both of those. So, while you’re designing the perfect incentive strategy to get your employees to participate in the annual wellness program, they’re wondering how to keep food on the table and how pay their bills. They're worrying about junior's performance at school and they pray daily that he gets to and from school safely. If that isn't enough to have on their plate, they’re suffering the weight of serious stress brought on by working more than one job.
In the midst of all of the stress of their personal lives, there isn't a consideration of using your corporate fitness center. Worse yet, every Fall, when you tell them the money that’s at stake if they don’t successfully complete elements X, Y, and Z of your wellness program, they only feel more burden and frankly a necessity to participate in the drudgery that is your wellness program. They NEED those HSA dollars so they’ll scrape by figuring out a way to complete all of the wellness program components. And they’ll resent you all the way. There’s nothing healthy about any of that.
I can’t say this is 100% false. Case in point, we have one client who has a few employees who annually ask for a pool at work via our satisfaction survey. The client is never going to act on that request. But, it would be equally ridiculous to assume that all feedback is as myopic as this.
If you subscribe to the ideology that healthy and happy employees are the core of your successful business, then you value what your teams have to say. Sometimes, their needs for improved health shows up in their data, so you don't even have to ask. In other cases, they have fabulous ideas for elevating your organization that would never otherwise have made it to the surface if you didn’t ask.
We make it a habit to solicit feedback from fitness center members, and in many cases, they've asked for services that we were able to implement to the benefit of all of the members. For example, in response to a member request, we now routinely have a large bottle of sunscreen available for members who want to run/walk outside. We also started building a library of grab-n-go workouts on laminated cards that members could use to get through a quick session without a scheduled appointment with a trainer. Eventually, we built those into on-the-road kits for employees who traveled; they could check out a travel kit before their trip and return it when they got back to the office. You could argue that these ideas should have been on our radar, but they weren't and we never would have met these needs if we hadn't asked for feedback.
Maybe your fitness center is struggling because of the management company, or maybe it's the right management partner but the wrong staff for your culture. But, before you assume that low participation in your fitness center could be fixed by swapping out the vendor, take a holistic view of what's happening in your work environment.
Here's why: if your employees have very little autonomy in their jobs, then the corporate fitness center isn’t even on the employee’s radar. They punch in and punch in without looking back. It doesn’t matter how engaging and inviting the fitness center staff is, how great the services are, how fun the group fitness classes are, and how easy it is to join the fitness center. If their work environment offers no flexibiliy, they will not use your fitness center.
Your fitness management vendor cannot rise above your organization's cultural barriers to magically draw employees into the fitness center, and a vendor switch is a major ordeal. So, exercise caution and take a hard look in the mirror before you fix a vendor relationship that may not be broken.
Your employees lives are complicated and their work environment is part of that sticky picture. Some of them are likely fighting to make it each day, in ways that you may have never considered. If you’re committed to a strategy for employee well-being that is truly about lifting your employees up, then you have to bust through these myths to get to the real barriers that make it hard for people to make a healthy choice. For more on addressing social determinants of health in your wellness program, try this article. If you're looking for a few quick tips to infuse a little more movement into the workday for your employees, grab our quick read below.