10 Fitness perks employees actually want
January 3, 2022

10 Fitness perks employees actually want

Daniel G.

Fitness is essential to our health—and to your company’s too. Research shows that corporate fitness and wellness programs reduce absenteeism, boost productivity and even reduce healthcare costs

But what was once simply a consideration for employers has become essential in the wake of COVID-19. Businesses now play a much larger role in the health and safety of their employees. While that centers on following public health guidelines, it also means prioritizing corporate wellness and finding new ways to keep employees engaged in their own health and wellbeing.

If you’ve fallen behind on building your workplace wellness regime, it’s no sweat. As any great athlete can attest, getting started is the hardest part. Here are 10 ideas to help your team hit the ground running.

1. In-office facilities & equipment

Whether you’ve reopened your office, are working in a hybrid setting, the reality is that many of us will eventually return to the office in some capacity. This is an opportune time to invest in your own space. 

Help motivate employees to kickstart their workout regimen or move their at-home routine to a private, in-office facility.  Of course, depending on the scale of your build-out, this could be a fairly intensive investment. You’ll want to consult CDC guidelines for gyms to ensure you’re following all sanitation and social distancing protocols through the pandemic (and beyond, really).

2. Gym or fitness program reimbursement

Employer-subsidized membership reimbursement programs can help employees overcome the cost barrier to keeping up with their fitness goals, particularly if the program is structured in a way that keeps them accountable—e.g., requiring a certain number of check-ins per month. 

Some gyms will even match employer contributions to further incentivize employee health and wellness, so it’s worth looking into different corporate options. If you do decide to go this route, just make sure employees are clear on all the details—the amount the company will contribute, eligible facilities and programs, reimbursement instructions, etc.

3. Remote fitness coaching and personal training

Before COVID-19 upended life as we knew it, we were already trending toward a more virtual world. It’s clear that certain things are forever changed—from the way we work to the way we work out. 

Remote fitness apps and programs have gained rapid ground during the pandemic as a way to keep people connected to their health. People now have the autonomy to reach their fitness goals on their own terms, often from the comfort (and judgment-free zone) of their homes. However, personalization and accountability are the keys to success as with any fitness regimen.

One-on-one virtual training programs like trainwell (formerly CoPilot) encompass all of the above, with customized workouts delivered from personal trainers who monitor members’ progress via Apple Watch. No watch? No problem — almost all of the benefits of trainwell can be used without the Apple Watch.

4. Office yoga and meditation

For so many, balancing the demands of work and life has never been more difficult, which explains why feelings of stress, anxiety, and burnout are at all-time highs. According to Kaiser Family Foundation data, four times more U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic.

Offering employees a safe space to reflect, restore, and rejuvenate for even just 30 to 45 minutes a day can pay dividends in wellbeing and productivity. And if you’re still doing the virtual thing, there are apps for that—the costs of which you might consider subsidizing as a benefit.

5. Fitness challenges

In the age of Zoom, employers are having to find new, creative ways to foster collaboration and team building while working from a distance. A fitness or wellness challenge could be a great way to encourage a little friendly competition in the spirit of boosting physical and mental health.

Just be cautious with this one, though. The goal of the challenge should be to reduce the stress of the workday, rather than add to it with unrealistic goals or arduous reporting requirements. Think habit-building tasks like standing or walking during a meeting or lunch break.

6. Group fitness outings

As outdoor events make their way onto the okay-with-proper-precautions list, organizing an outdoor fitness challenge or other group activity can help reunite a remote team in a safe and socially distanced environment. 

Or, as the ability to work remotely has created a more geographically diverse workforce, event registration sites like Active.com have a whole list of virtual runs and races in which people can participate from afar. What better way to rally the team than training together for a virtual 5K?

Of course, fitness outings don’t necessarily need to involve pounding pavement. Whether your team is game for a down-and-dirty mud run, a day of beach of volleyball, or a cornhole tournament at the local brewery, wellness can take all different forms—getting them moving is the key.

7. Wellness retreat

In addition to escaping the demands of day-to-day life, a corporate wellness retreat makes for invaluable team-building. These retreats, facilitated by experts in mindfulness and other contemplative practices, are designed to enhance the health and wellness of both the individual and the group. 

From thrill-seeking adventures like zip-lining and whitewater rafting to restorative yoga and meditation to collaborative, wellness retreats serve as a much-needed reset button for the mind, body, and team spirit. Consistent with the times, virtual wellness programs and retreats are available as an alternative to the traditional, destination-based format.

8. Providing free or discounted therapy

Physical and mental health go hand in hand. With alarms sounding on mental health crises due to the added stress and isolation of the pandemic, facilitating access to mental health services has become an increasingly urgent priority for healthcare stakeholders—employers included.

Bolstering your mental health benefits, including following the likes of Starbucks, PwC, and Lyft by offering free therapy sessions can make it easier for employees to access mental healthcare. Many employees opt out of seeking care because it can be prohibitively expensive and difficult to navigate. 

New online therapy platforms are further streamlining the process. Offering a free or discounted membership to one of these sites is another way to make therapy more convenient and affordable to those who need it.

9. Sitting-to-standing desks

A few years back, there was no escaping the infamous “Sitting Is the New Smoking” and “Sitting Kills” headlines that had corporate employees quite literally jumping out of their seats—and with good reason. 

Research has shown that too much sitting can significantly increase a person’s risk of chronic disease, including certain cancers, and even lead to premature death. According to a 2015–2016 CDC study published in JAMA, approximately one in four American adults sits for more than eight hours a day. 

These startling revelations helped ignite the standing desk craze. But as it turns out, standing all day isn’t so great, either. Today, we know that movement is the key—and that a combination between sitting and standing can have a positive impact on both employee health and productivity

As you’re reconfiguring your workplace to enable social distancing, consider bringing in desks that switch from sitting to standing. Or, if the majority of your workforce is remote, you might think about a partial reimbursement. It may be a significant up-front investment, but it’s a relatively small one in the context of your employees’ long-term health.

10. Subsidizing fitness trackers

Today’s wearable tech does much more than count steps—although they serve an important purpose there, too. From tracking workouts, heart health, and sleep patterns to sharing valuable insights with doctors and other professionals involved in your health, these devices play an increasingly significant role in our health and wellness.

That being said, smartwatches, fitness trackers, and other wearable technology can carry a hefty price tag depending on the brand, features, and functionality. 

Some employers have opted to subsidize the cost of wearables on the condition that employees must meet certain fitness goals. Not only is this a way to incentivize healthy habits, but if you do decide to run a group fitness challenge, it’ll make tracking and reporting easier for you and your team.

Employee health matters

As fitness centers and workplaces reopen, it’s hard to say how employee habits and preferences will change. If we had to guess—and as this guy may be able to attest—we’re betting on technology-enabled remote personal training as the way of the future.

Trainwell can provide the benefits of in-person training with the convenience of virtual coaching for your team. Contact us today to learn more.

Written by Daniel G.

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