Onsite Fitness: One of Employee’s Most Desired Wellness Benefits

Today’s corporate leaders understand the importance of investing in the health of their workforce; appreciating that healthier happier employees makes for a better bottom line. Facing a rise in both health care costs and the burden of health conditions that affect absenteeism, productivity and overall performance metrics, proactive employers are looking to create healthy workplace environments that foster ideal behaviors in physical activity, diet, weight management, no smoking, and so on.

According to recent survey results, this is in line with what employees are looking for as well. Based on findings published by the Principal Financial Well-Being Index, employees want more of a hands-on and inter-personal experience out of their wellness benefits. Among the four most desired benefits, onsite fitness centers was listed at 19%, preceded by fitness center discounts (25%), onsite preventative screenings (22%), and access to wellness experts (21%).

In contrast, the survey found that the most commonly provided benefits are more media based; with 19% of employers giving access to online wellness information, 18% offering educational tools or resources, 17% providing fitness center discounts, and 17% distributing printed wellness information.

Interestingly, what employers and employees hope to gain from wellness benefits is similar; namely improved physical health and savings on healthcare costs. The survey results identified perceived benefits that encourage employees to participate in their company wellness programs. An overwhelming 45% chose better overall physical health as the primary benefit that would encourage their participation. This was followed by 30% encouraged by receiving meaningful incentives from their employer. Close behind this were a combination of reduced personal healthcare costs, increased chance of living longer, healthier life and reduced stress all at 29%.

Research on the economic impact of worksite wellness programs that target lifestyle and behavior change indicates they are worthwhile investment. Research reviews of several worksite wellness studies sited by the American Institute for Preventive Medicine identified that for every $1 invested, companies experienced an average return of $3.48 due to reduced medical claim costs and a return of $5.82 in reduced absenteeism.

The return benefits are also reflected from the employees perspective. Looking back at the survey results, 52% agreed that by participating in at least one wellness program per year they have more energy and feel more productive at work. 41% believe that their wellness benefits encourage them to work harder and perform better, and 35% of employees that noted participating in at least one wellness program a year missed fewer days of work due to illness.

Corporate Fitness Works specializes in onsite fitness facility consulting, operations and program management. We work closely with our clients to create the type of healthy workplace environments that inspire employee participation in physical activity and overall healthy lifestyle. Click here to learn more about our services.

About the Survey

The Principal Financial Well-Being Index survey was conducted online with Harris Interactive providing third party administration. Survey responses were captured from 1,121 employees and 533 retirees within the United States working at small to mid-sized businesses (ranging 10-1,000 employees). The results as presented within this article are from the 2011 fourth quarter survey report available to view at http://www.principal.com/wellbeing/2011/wbwellness-4q2011-execsumm.htm.