It’s easy to second guess why tech expert and leader in the field of employee wellbeing, Google was one of the first to have a gym on site – and many have followed in those giant footsteps since.
The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list has a growing number of UK businesses in the mix that can boast a gym on their premises, followed by an even greater number who hand out gym passes and membership cards instead.
There are many likely reasons why…
Looking after the mental and the physical
Working out helps the body to deal with mental tension while creating chemicals that help moderate the brain’s response to stress which, of course, correlates with the need to address the increasing levels of stress in the working environment.
Exercise also works on a physical fitness level by helping to lower the risk of heart disease while also lowering blood pressure and supporting the body to manage its blood sugar and insulin levels.
Given the increase in the amount of people who are physically inactive, not to mention the national obesity crisis, it is now recognized by many as a valid responsibility for businesses to take care of the physical health of the workforce as well as its mental wellbeing. It also helps to address levels of absenteeism.
Supporting general wellbeing
Workplace wellbeing represents any activity in the working environment which promotes and supports health, with the aim of improving healthy outcomes. Most employers are aware of the need to promote wellbeing in the workplace and what that might entail.
For instance, there has been much content written about the need to move about more, before, after and during work, as sitting for extended periods of time is now particularly frowned upon. There has been something of a standing revolution and many offices now include the option for workers to plump for sit stand desks.
Working out, either on equipment in the office environment or using a free gym pass, is acknowledged as a great way to alleviate the impact of sitting at a desk for any length of time.
Handing out gym membership passes and providing space on site to work out are initiatives that actively encourage workers to take a break, while promoting healthy lifestyle choices and presenting a solution to any increased work stress. The ‘taking a break’ element is an important one.
Allowances, for time away from the desk, is crucial in today’s always ‘on’ world. The company that provides some sort of incentive to work out is the company that recognizes that workers need to take a break and is willing to put some budget in to making that happen.
Perks of the job
Not forgetting that access to gym equipment is a real perk !
A lot of people would like to work out but cite leisure memberships as an unnecessary cost that they can’t always afford to maintain. Having an onsite gym, or access to a gym off site, is a well-received benefit and is often cited as a great bonus by workers who have been afforded such luxuries by their companies.
The gym on-site route is also another way of encouraging workers to socialize and to stay in the environment longer.
Attraction and retention
In the same vein, leisure club memberships and onsite gyms can be viewed as a strong recruitment tool too. Not only do they rank as recognized benefits, they also indicate to new members of staff that the company cares about its workers’ health and wellbeing, which makes it that more attractive.
Providing exercise space or paying for gym membership is physical evidence that the company is demonstrating a willingness to go beyond paying lip service and is prepared to put tangible, real options in place to ensure that its team is better taken care of. We are all forging ahead to score points as employers, in a competitive recruitment market, and the gym is a definite hit. It’s an investment that will pay off as our businesses can also benefit from the results these exercise sessions bring.
The benefits to the company
Exercise is known to enhance creativity, improve concentration, give you more energy and, generally, make you more alert - which has to have a positive impact on productivity in the work environment.
Encouraging employees to exercise during working hours and / or in the actual workplace is likely to reap its own rewards in the long-term as your workers will appreciate the gesture and they are likely to perform better as they benefit from the positive effects that exercise allows.