How to use employee benefits schemes to encourage fitness at work

Many employees want to stay on top of their health and wellbeing, but either don’t have the resources or the know-how. Employers can play a big role in helping and encouraging employees improve their fitness.

Improving employees’ health and fitness can have great benefits for organisations. It’s been well documented that healthier, fitter employees are generally happier and more productive. The rewards are like a domino effect. Healthier employees are happier and happier employees are more loyal and productive.

You don’t need to turn your entire workforce into fitness freaks, just a small increase in the amount of exercise your employees do each week can have a significant effect.

Promoting the benefits
Before you begin deciding which benefits to promote or use, you need to understand what your employees will respond best to. It’s also worth considering what sporting events are taking place as you promote your schemes. Also think about the time of year. People are more likely to respond to gym memberships after the New Year. People may also respond better to cycle to work schemes in the summer or after a big cycling event like the Tour de France.

Gym Scheme
Expensive gym memberships can be the reason many people put off doing more exercise. Offering discounted gym memberships should be the first place you look when trying to improve fitness in the workplace. It’s also worth contacting gyms local to your workplace to see if they can offer a discount to your employees. Alternatively, you could subsidise your employees’ gym memberships at local gyms providing they attend regularly.

Bike to Work Scheme
Again, employers can help employees reduce the costs involved with exercise by offering a bike to work scheme. Employees can not only save money on the cost of a new bike but also on their commute to work. If those employees walk to work, it can also save them time, which is another reason cited for lack of exercise. Even if they drive to work, cycling to work makes exercise part of the daily routine.

Offers & Discounts
General discounts offered as part of your employee benefits offering should also be considered. It could be discounts on sport and leisure activities like indoor skiing or trampolining. It’s also worth considering discounts on sports equipment and clothing. Again, promoting these and reminding employees about them is key. Pick out the discounts that you think are applicable to your employees and promote them. It could also drive engagement with other discounts you offer.

Alternatives to Bonuses
Ever thought about how you can tailor your bonuses to incorporate health and fitness? Whether it’s a Christmas bonus or long service award, you could give employees the option. You could offer a bigger bonus as a voucher at a retailer to give employees the option of getting a new bike or fitness equipment.

While these initiatives can help solve some of the issues preventing people from exercising more, there is more companies can and will need to do to encourage exercise.

Other Fitness Initiatives
The last thing you want to do is alienate people with your fitness initiatives. Think of things that everyone can get involved in. It could be something as simple as inviting people to go on a lunchtime walk. You could also offer to subsidise gym classes or run a class yourself at your local gym for employees at lunch time. It could encourage employees to sign up for the gym and attend more regularly.

Health-Focused Initiatives
You could also introduce health-focused initiatives, such as a collaborative weight-loss campaign. This could involve offering dietary advice or healthier lunch alternatives to employees. You could also consider wearable technology such as fitness trackers. Why not offer to subsidise the cost for employees? The more people you get involved, the more of a buzz you generate and before you know it you’ve created a fitness culture!

Remember, don’t force the message of fitness. Your activities should be fun, competitive and engaging. Habit-forming activities are also good! Making health and fitness enjoyable is half the battle, but if you can do it you’re well on your way to a happier, healthier workforce!