The number of overweight people has increased by 400% in the past 25 years, based on figures from Nuffield Proactive Health.
“People are leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles,” warns Chris Jessop, chief executive of the health service provider, who argues that employers have a responsibility to curb this worrying trend.
Employees who are seriously overweight are, not surprisingly, likely to be less productive and have more sickness absence than their healthier counterparts. One way Jessop suggests employers can combat this is to introduce an on-site gym or lifestyle centre, making it easier for employees to fit exercise into their schedules.
Fitter and sharper
He claims that employers setting up a gym facility are likely to see improved performance and productivity from a fitter, sharper team, while employees benefit from greater integration and team bonding as well as the obvious advantages of leading a healthier lifestyle.
Jessop says that providing a fitness service should be part of any employer’s strategy to recruit and retain the best talent, because it will help to keep staff motivated and committed to the organisation.
While some employers may see building and maintaining a gym as a costly exercise, he explains that by providing a well-equipped facility and thorough range of services, you will be able to charge your employees a monthly membership fee. This would typically be much less than the fees charged at a commercial, external health club, but can make a significant contribution to the running expenses, and in some cases even make running it cost-neutral.
“It is not uncommon for membership levels at our facilities to be in excess of 50% compared with an average 12% membership of commercial facilities,” Jessop says.
Jessop advises that if an on-site fitness facility is not right for your organisation, there are other options you can consider to boost the health and wellbeing of your staff. You can still offer health assessments as part of a benefits package, which demonstrates to your employees that you have an interest in their welfare.
However, Chris Saxton, chief executive of fit-out specialists Morris and Spottiswood, believes that introducing a gym into the workplace can help employees maintain a healthy mind, heart and build up their immune systems, and that this may result in a reduction in sickness absence – resulting in huge cost savings for your business.
Saxton believes in-house facilities give staff an excuse to break away from their desks and feel energised, although he stresses that your staff should always have access to fully trained first-aiders in case someone feels unwell in the gym.
by Amanda Lovell
working out the right solution
- When constructing a gym include cardio equipment, multi-gym, free weights, a floor area for stretching and abdominal work, showers, music and water.
- Ensure all staff receive fitness assessments and gym inductions before using the facilities.
- Put posters up around the office to remind your employees that if they are feeling stressed, a visit to the office gym will release frustration and revive them.
Source: Chris Saxton, chief executive, Morris and Spottiswood