At last count, surveys suggest that more than 84% of large companies with more than 200 employees offer some form of employee wellness program to their workers: an increase of almost 15% in the past decade. Many also now incentivize workers to meet their health goals with rewards for BMI reductions and healthy weight management among other things. And with good reason too. Wellness programs that promote proactive employee health can help companies prevent absenteeism from sickness which costs the U.S. economy more than $225 billion every year. But with many, if not the majority of corporate workforces, embracing a new hybrid workplace model, or deciding to stay entirely remote in 2022, managing access to fitness services – and levelling that playing field for all employees – is increasingly problematic. Fortunately new technologies and shifting employee attitudes can make this easier than anyone previously thought possible. Here’s how:
Know we’re never going back to just the company gym
In the 1990s and 2000s providing on-site access to a central employee fitness center was a major component of employee wellness programs. Although they were a step in the right direction in the evolution of corporate workplaces as centers for wellness support, fitness centers were time consuming to install and equipment was expensive to purchase and even more so to maintain. While larger corporations still maintain physical facilities on corporate campuses today, with the dramatic reduction in centralized workforces this whole model is shifting quickly. Employees have already embraced long-term, at-home teleworking as a preferred model of working and employers, in some respects, have to play catch up. The important thing to know is that the technologies are available to meet workers where they choose to work – and now work out.
Offer on-demand wellness access wherever
With your employees spread across office, home and even time zones, limitless on-demand fitness and wellness content is the fastest way to creating equitable access to resources for all employees. Look for platforms that offer instant, online access across desktop, tablet and mobile devices but also work seamlessly with on-site kiosk displays and fitness center TV’s for any employee who may choose to work on-site now or in the future. With systems like FLEX from FitnessOnDemand, and others like it, employees can get access to on-demand portfolios of workout content, classes and wellness programming wherever they need it: at their home-based office, on the go, or anywhere on a corporate campus if and when, they do come to the office.
Select content types for all employees
Just as when using on-site fitness facilities, not every employee needs or is able to get the most from the same kinds of fitness and wellness content. Age, fitness level, mobility and personal preference of employees all are factors to consider. When selecting virtual wellness and fitness offerings make them appropriate for all employees and consider three things.
- Short-form fitness and wellness content in 5-, 10-, 15-, 20- and 30- minute packages. A ten-minute, stress-busting stretch or 30-minute on-demand meditation class might be more accessible and approachable for an employee than hour-long classes that require more preparation and mental commitment on their own.
- All ages content; ensure you make available content for older employees (as well as higher energy options for all) that provides functional training – mobility, flexibility and balance. These all become more important as we age.
- Blend fitness and wellness content offerings. Provide both higher energy classes and workouts that help employees burn calories, tone muscle and control blood pressure, but also wellness classes and short mindfulness exercises that can help tackle stress: the number one health complaint in corporate America today.
Motivate and Incentivize Remotely
Just because we’re not all on the same worksite, doesn’t mean company-wide health and wellness challenges aren’t a good idea. Use your virtual offerings to create monthly or quarterly workout goals and reward employee progress. Consider kicking off a company-wide virtual marathon or 10K training program. And most critically make your virtual wellness and fitness offerings an integral part of your employee communications via your intranet, social media channels, teams groups and web properties. The more you communicate, promote and engage employees, the more successful virtual adoption will become across the board with all employees.