What Businesses are Saying and Doing about Workplace Fitness
Jill Kinney, Founder/Director of Business Development, Club One Inc., San Francisco, Calif.
Companies around the globe, in different industries with different philosophies, are investing in employee fitness.
For Accenture, a company with a highly distributed workforce, providing its employees with fitness facilities and programs
was a natural extension of their longstanding commitment to the health and wellbeing of their employees. That commitment
is grounded in the philosophy that employees, who are healthy and happy and feel valued, form the most productive, innovative
and loyal workforce possible.
For Dow Chemical, a manufacturing company with large numbers of shift employees, the conclusion was arrived at in more methodical
fashion – based upon irrefutable data that showed how health and wellness impact the bottom line.
After seeing success with their early programs aimed at obesity, physical activity and tobacco use, Dow led a study among
their employee base focused on the ROI of reducing their top 10 health risks. All of which can be helped through diet and
exercise. And they found that by simply reducing each of those risk factors by 1% per year, they would save approximately
$50 million over a ten year period – a 3:1 ROI. And that estimate “assumes the only benefit is changes in direct dollar
expenditures for health care,” says Catherine Baase, M.D., Dow global director, health services. Dow also, estimated more
than $6 million in “lost days” saved due to reductions in absenteeism. But for all those “studies” and “philosophies”, how
do you get employees to exercise and get fit?
Fitness: How Convenient
Quite simply, you make fitness facilities easy and convenient for them. One of the most oft cited reasons why adults do
not exercise is that they do not have the time. So companies that are serious about helping employees improve their health
(while helping improve the bottom line) invest in workplace fitness centers.
An idea that is substantiated by Richard Cotton, PhD, exercise physiologist and spokesperson for the American Council on
Exercise. According to Cotton, "To get someone to exercise, we've got to help them carve out the time. Having a gym at your
fingertips does just that."
Marty Shaver, a supply manager at Motorola in Palmer, Texas, would also agree. Before Motorola installed an on-site gym,
Shaver was 30 pounds overweight with high cholesterol and no time between work and the long commute home to his family for
a stop off at the local gym.
Since that time, however, Shaver has shed 20 pounds and his cholesterol is back in the healthy range. According to Shaver,
he owes his healthy ways to the on-site fitness center at Motorla. "It's a huge convenience," says Shaver. "Instead of going
down the stairs and straight out the door at the end of the day, I simply take a right at the bottom of those stairs and
hit the gym for an hour."
All of this adds up to a strong argument to invest in workplace fitness facilities. As companies perform cost-benefit analyses
to determine the ROI of such fitness centers, they should consider the tangibles as well as the intangibles:
- Healthcare costs
The outcome may be much like those of the companies included in this article – from immeasurable benefits to the organization
brought on by a healthy, motivated, loyal workforce to 3:1 returns from cost avoidance associated with health benefits payouts