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Date posted: 28th June 2024

28th June 2024

Guest Post: 3 ways to encourage employees to use their gym benefit

Guest Post: 3 ways to encourage employees to use their gym benefit

Author: Conor Barry, Physical Wellbeing Lead, Benefex

As an employer, it’s important for your workforce to have a healthy work-life balance as well as engage in healthy behaviours. Not only does it improve employees’ health and quality of life, but it also improves productivity (the healthiest workplaces save an average of 11.5 days of unproductive time per employee, per year), builds resilience and ultimately will save on costs for both employers and healthcare systems.

Our recent research report, The Expectation Exponential, found that HR and Reward leaders think that wellbeing support is the most important factor in delivering a great employee experience – with 84% saying it’s very important.

Gym membership is one of the most common benefits offered by employers to support the wellbeing of their people – however, they’re often undervalued by employees; just 22% of global employees say that gym and fitness benefits are important when they’re looking for a new job.

Here are some ways employers can encourage the use of their gym membership benefit…

Shout about it!

While this may seem obvious, many employers underestimate the power of communication in engaging employees in their benefits. To make sure the message lands, use multiple channels to promote gym benefits and encourage employees who are using the benefit to shout out about it too. Several Benefex customers have created ‘Benefits Champions’ within their business – employees share how the benefit has been beneficial to them, and this social proof is compelling in inspiring others to take action.

Aside from clearly outlining the cost savings, such as discounted memberships and national insurance savings, employers need to educate their people on the physical and mental health benefits of using a gym. While all forms of exercise are great, the gym provides the employees with such an extensive variety of tools and methods to help them improve their physical health. Do your employees know the many benefits of strength training, such as reduced risk of chronic disease and anxiety? Do they know the stress-reducing and cognitive-boosting effects of aerobic training?  Are they aware that physical exercise has been compared to treatments for depression such as counselling?

Communications should also make going to the gym feel more approachable and achievable; in a 2023 study, 40% of people in the UK said they were “too tired” to make big changes to help them live healthier lifestyles – so showing employees how they can start with shorter workouts and build up from there can help them make gym-going a habit. Sharing bite-sized videos that show employees difference exercises they can do in the gym, providing guidance on how to use equipment, or sharing a gym plan/programme will also give them greater confidence. Alongside a gym benefit, employers may also want to offer access to a wellbeing app which includes gym training advice, recovery strategies, as well as workout structure.

Provide flexible working arrangements

Highlighting the importance of a gym membership benefit is irrelevant if employees don’t feel they have the time to use it. For example, if an employee wants to go to the gym during their lunch break, they should feel safe enough to block their calendar off and do so. People need to feel confident disengaging to work out, without the pressure to be available on email or messaging channels. Work with them to come to a solution which can help them get their gym time in, even if that means flexible working arrangements.

Promoting a culture where employees are encouraged to look after their own wellbeing will not only help reduce sickness and absence, but will benefit the organisation’s overall culture.

Offer other wellbeing-related benefits to support gym use

There are numerous other benefits that most organisations offer to support employees’ physical wellbeing – that can support the use of a gym benefit. For example, you may offer a health screening benefit for employees to get their blood markers assessed; this can help establish baseline objective goals to work on in the gym. There may be a healthcare cash plan on offer, which allows employees to claim back the costs of physio and rehabilitation therapy. They could be advised on bespoke exercises to do in the gym, and they could also use the health cash plan for recovery strategies like massage.

And technology or discount benefits can enable employees to get fitness trackers and earphones to use in the gym at discounted rates; fitness trackers can help employees monitor fitness improvements, such as resting heart rate and heart rate variability.

With a significant 68% of employers planning to increase their investment in wellbeing in the next 12 months, organisations can drive better ROI from their existing benefits by showing employees the value of the wellbeing benefits already on offer – and highlighting how they can work together to improve their health.

Want more insights?

Download Benefex’s Wellbeing report to see how the right strategies, benefits and tech can make a tangible difference to employee wellbeing. Get your copy here.