Why Gym Membership is One of the Top Employee Benefits

Siobhan O'Shea   23 October, 2019
Employee Wellbeing Workplace

Have you heard of the firm that offers people with a new dog a week’s leave to help settle it in? Or the one that provides its staff with an annual festival it calls a mini-Glastonbury? (Yes, all true.)

Most of us can only dream of the likes of annual paid vacations and personal chef employee benefits. But we probably can offer work perks like access to a local gym, wellbeing and wellness, or fitness classes on site.

According to research by published by Reba in The Rewards Report, 82% of employees who felt motivated had received some form of reward, perk or appreciation of their work.

Are you offering gym memberships as a corporate perk to employees? Then you probably believe that a healthy worker is a happier one. I think we can agree that employers over the last decade or so have become more interested in and committed to wellness. Of course, some of that is down to employee demand – gym membership is now seen as a basic benefit, rather than something extra.

You can expect to pay between £10 to £100 per employee per month for gym membership, depending on whether you opt for a no-frills gym up to a high-tech gym with a major brand.

So, as an employee benefit, is gym membership worth it?

It's Preventative Medicine


Subsidising fitness classes away from the workplace has trebled according to SHRM data in the past five years.

It's official, people who exercise regularly are less likely to get a cold.

A study of 1,000 people found that staying active nearly halved the odds of catching cold viruses and, failing that, made the infection less severe!

Regular exercise has many health benefits for employees. It can improve sleep and lower stress, help people maintain a healthy weight, and help them lower their risk of heart disease.

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More than 131 million working days were lost to sickness in the UK in 2017, including 13 million working days lost to stress, depression or anxiety.

A healthy workforce will be a more productive, and hopefully happier one. And, of course, less likely to call in sick.

It Helps Retain Employees


According to research by Capita, around a quarter of employees want to be offered gym membership (although only around 3% actually use the benefit!).

As you know, high staff turnover costs significant sums as we scramble to recruit talent and struggle with lost productivity while new employees are on-boarded and trained. High turnover can fuel staff disgruntlement and lower morale for those remaining.

According to a survey of 3,000 UK employees by Capita, employee benefits are the second-biggest reason to join a business – 38.3% rated this second behind salary, and above promotion opportunities (22%) and company reputation (18%). 

Wondering what to look out for when it comes to choosing an employee benefits provider? Click here for 6 insider tips. 

Corporate Perks like gym membership increase employee engagement and can help you attract and retain good staff.

It's Cost Effective


300,000 workers lose their jobs each year due to mental health issues. The cost of this, combined with lost productivity and performance through mental ill health, is £42bn a year for UK employers.

Wellness programs are cost-effective. Not only do they help your employees avoid long-term, chronic health issues, they reduce the cost of your health insurance.

Gym memberships are usually less expensive than monthly prescriptions. Chances are, you may be able to negotiate a corporate discount for your company employees at a local gym.

Employees who maintain their health are less likely to need to rely on other, costlier health benefits you offer. Yes, they may still catch a sniffle from time to time, but they’re not as likely to develop a long-term chronic condition.

All the research shows that people who are happy, fulfilled and engaged in their jobs have higher levels of physical and mental health, and are less likely to be absent. 

Exercise isn't the only thing that's going to keep your employees thriving. Getting a quality night's sleep might be even more important - click here to find out why. 

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Worried That Your Employees Won't Use Their Gym Memberships?


Try to build a culture that encourages an active lifestyle:

  • Encourage people to create space in their daily schedule for exercise. Don't just give people gym memberships, suggest that they should go two or three lunchtimes a week.
  • Arrange a mass mailing that goes out every week. The mailing has fitness tips on how to watch your carb intake, how to increase your daily steps etc.
  • Start a wellness challenge. It could be for example to cut out as much sugar as possible from your diet. At the end of the challenge, the winner receives a prize.
  • Buy everyone a (low end) fitbit. If someone average 6000 steps/day over a month (or 30 active minutes/day) he gets £50 tacked on to his next paycheck.
  • Hire an instructor to offer a 45-minute (low-impact) yoga or tai chi lesson three days a week at lunchtime to any interested employees. (If you have appropriate facilities.)

Here at Staff Treats, we offer a lot of ways to better engage your employees, especially with gym memberships or wellness benefits. Book a demo with one of our customer engagement specialists to find out how we can help you.

After all, a happy, healthy workforce is more likely to stick around.

Siobhan O'Shea

Writer. Content Creator. Fancy Dancer. Irreverant copywriter, on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and make business blogs sparkle.

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