How to boost productivity in the workplace with employee fitness benefits

Employers are always seeking new ways to enhance productivity, reduce costs and improve employee satisfaction. Focusing on employee wellbeing can be one of the most effective ways of doing this, and fitness benefits are one of the most popular incentives amongst employees.

There are a number of ways in which employers can support their employees in staying physically active. Workplace adjustments such as standing desks, or encouraging ‘walking meetings’ are simple steps that any business can take to help promote wellbeing. Providing structured breaks and flexible hours to ensure that employees can take gentle exercise during the working day can also be key.

Even engaging in short sessions of gentle exercise is associated with productivity increases as high as 30%. When we exercise, we reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body, such as adrenaline and cortisol, helping to mitigate the negative impacts that stress can have upon our wellbeing and performance. In place, physical activity helps stimulate the production of endorphins – natural mood lifters which can provide us with increased vigour and energy, helping us to be more successful in our daily endeavours.

Beyond these smaller steps, more and more organisations are making the decision to offer fitness memberships as part of their employee benefits packages, to enable their staff to stay fit outside of work. Some employers are going as far as allowing their staff to take breaks during the working day to visit the gym, while modern working practices such as flexible and hybrid working can support staff in bringing the benefits of fitness to their working day.

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to fitness. Some prefer to workout alone in the gym, or perhaps in the comfort of their own home. Others enjoy a sociable fitness class, or team sports. In a recent Hussle survey, 63.1% of respondents said that gym access was their number one choice of corporate benefit, with 72% of these saying that they wanted access to multiple venues.

Companies that partner with Hussle enable their employees to access an extensive network of 1,500+ venues across the UK, alongside on-demand fitness classes. Thanks to this variety in terms of the number of venues and available activities, uptake levels amongst employees within an organisation can be as high as 20% and above.

But the positive impacts of employee fitness benefits extend far beyond the direct link between physical activity and wellbeing. A regular exercise regime builds skills and qualities that are closely linked to career success. Employees who exercise tend to take fewer days off, meaning that the overall output in their roles tends to be higher than those who are less active.

The commitment to regular exercise teaches individuals to be organised, focused, and good at keeping track of time. Fitness is also linked to better mental performance, with research suggesting that just 20 minutes of daily exercise can increase cognitive function by 10-20%. When we challenge ourselves and achieve our fitness goals, this can generate a tremendous amount of confidence and self-worth, which can have a widely positive influence on the way we interact with others and engage with our work.

The benefits also extend to staff recruitment and retention. In an increasingly competitive recruitment market, workplace wellbeing is becoming an ever-growing priority for job-hunters, ranked alongside salary in terms of importance. By showcasing your employee fitness benefit within your recruitment materials, you’ll help attract employees with an existing interest in fitness, or those with a desire to become active, who will bring some of the earlier mentioned qualities into their roles.

Countless news articles are currently circulating, citing 2024 to be the year where huge volumes of employees will begin to search for new work. Employees at all levels have already been shown to leave good businesses for another role that better supports their health and wellbeing. Investing in wellness provisions such as fitness benefits will be a valuable tool to boost staff morale and keep your most valuable, high performing, and productive employees.

Beyond the benefits of fitness on our mental health and cognitive performance, exercise, of course has many physical benefits. It helps prevent musculoskeletal injuries, which are a leading cause of sickness absence across the UK. For more manual professions such as retail, manufacturing and healthcare, physical fitness is key to productivity. Access to flexible fitness can also be a valuable tool for traveling workers, enabling them to make healthier choices, and maintain high performance while ‘on-the-road’.

You can find out more about Hussle’s unique offering of fitness-as-a-benefit by visiting our dedicated website for HR professionals, employee wellbeing/benefits specialists and small business leaders.