By Ann Wyatt, Vice President, Program Management & Engagement
Fitness centers aren’t a new concept for midsized and larger organizations. In fact, corporate gyms date all the way back to the 1880s when the National Cash Register built what may have been the first employee gym. In the 1950s and 1960s, Texas Instruments, Xerox and Rockwell all introduced employee fitness centers. Fast forward to today, and it’s not uncommon to find corporate fitness centers at many large and midsized employers across the country.
But, here’s what is a relatively new concept: These same companies are using those fitness centers as key tools to recruit and retain top people as the struggle for talent heats up.
Just look where the struggle for talent is heading. Current government statistics tell us the U.S. unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in September. That’s down by more than half of its peak of 10.2 percent in October 2009. It also means today’s workers are in firm control.
At the same time, a big chunk of the workforce will be retiring in the next 15 years. By 2030, every Baby Boomer will be 65-plus, which means a full 18 percent of the U.S. population will be at retirement age (according to Pew Research Center population projections). That’s a lot of retirees—and a lot of jobs left to fill.
Essentially, there just aren’t going to be enough good people to fill all the open roles in the next 10-15 years.
And that’s a serious problem for today’s modern business.
What are companies doing about that? Many organizations are offering up a slew of unique and useful employee benefits to attract and retain the best employees. Starbucks offers full tuition reimbursement for its employees via Arizona State University. IKEA offers four months of parental time off to full- and part-time employees with at least one year experience at the company. And Scripps Health offers pet insurance for employees’ cats and dogs.
And, increasingly, companies are offering up fitness centers as a key employee perk. According to a recent survey* we conducted, 92 percent of company HR leaders said their fitness centers helped their organization stay competitive.
In fact, one HR leader said, “Amenities such as our fitness center help us attract and retain top talent for our organization.” Another leader said, “Our fitness center is an attractive employee perk.”
Why are fitness centers such a great employee perk?
According to our research, 75 percent of employees say personal touch is important in their health, wellness and fitness program and can come from knowledgeable “live” experts—coaches and specialists—who are credible, engaging, easy to access and provide one-on-one support for their specific needs.
That research points directly to corporate fitness centers, where employees can work with trainers and fitness consultants to develop individualized plans to meet their unique health needs.
That same research also found that 40-45 percent of employees who are offered fitness facility access choose to participate largely due to their convenience, inviting environment and low- or no-cost membership.
After all, it’s a lot easier to get a workout in if you only have to travel two floors down on the elevator versus 10 miles in rush-hour traffic! Convenience counts for a lot.
As the struggle for talent really heats up in the future expect to see more companies introducing corporate fitness centers as yet another way to lure top employees.
Contact us to learn more about our fitness solutions.
*2017 Survey of HealthFitness clients
About the author:
Ann is Vice President, Program Management & Engagement. She has 25 years of experience in the health management and fitness industry. Her role includes strategy development and driving engagement for new and existing health management and corporate fitness programs, employee recruiting and training, program quality assurance and operations management. Ann holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Old Dominion University and a Master of Education in Exercise Physiology from Auburn University.