• Are Corporate Fitness Programs a Waste?

    By Jeffrey Keller

    General Manager

    Wellness and corporate fitness programs first started to take hold in the 1990’s and really started to become prominent 15 years ago. Tons of consultants, both internal and external, claimed this was the key to reducing healthcare costs. However, corporate programs of this nature haven’t quite produced the results they were predicted to produce. Human resources consulting firm Hewitt, produced an assessment of wellness programs which identified a multitude of problems. Here are a few.

    • Only 4% of smokers took part in employer-sponsored smoking-cessation programs.
    • Just 5% of overweight employees signed up for weight-reduction programs.
    • One out every 10 employees who suffered from chronic ailments such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease took part in programs designed to address those problems, meaning of course that 90% of eligible employees ignored the programs.

    So what is the take home message of these results? Corporate programs are lacking participation. Getting employees to participate is the key, and workers just don’t seem to want to unless there is a culture of employee engagement at the company. What’s worse, if a company doesn’t have the culture of engagement and they try to force wellness programs, here’s what happens according to Hewitt.

    • If employers require employees to complete an assessment or participate in a program. If a company makes it mandatory, employees pushed back by refusing to follow the recommendations of the assessments or even worse, flat out refused to participate and threatened legal action.
    • If employers emphasized the money-saving aspect. When employees perceived the assessment was just another way to increase employer profits, failure was almost guaranteed.

    Now that you know the negatives, here’s the upside for company wellness programs.

    • 55% of employees who begin with an assessment of their health and wellbeing say they are taking action on resolving those health issues identified.
    • 35% of employees who begin with an assessment of their health and wellbeing say they are “thinking about” taking action on resolving health issues identified.
    • Employees who participate in a fitness or physical activity program twice per week for a minimum of 1 hour each time, are absent from work 2.4 days per year less than their inactive counterparts.
    • Employees who participate in a fitness or physical activity program twice per week for a minimum of 1 hour each time, are 100% productive 13 days per year more than their inactive counterparts. In other words, inactive employees come to work and are less than 100% effective/productive 13 days per year more because of chronic diseases, stress, anxiety, and general fatigue.

    In short, it’s pretty obvious that getting employees to participate in programs  is the secret to getting a boost for the company and to help them feel better in the process. And the providing them a baseline to work from increases the likelihood they’ll take action and participate.

    Wellness for Companies with a Tight Budget

    There are tons of ways to approach this, but Ultima Fitness and Wellness suggests these five to start.

    1. Partner with a wellness provider that is an expert in what they do. Hiring a company Director of Wellness isn’t always in the budget, so choosing a wellness provider who can engage your employees and tailor what they do to the specifics of what your company needs can be the next best thing. They can coordinate these programs while you can concentrate on what you do best.
    2. Review your claims. Take a look at your health-insurance claims. If you spot a cluster of the same types of claims, such as treatment for diabetes, considering bringing in screeners from a local hospital or clinic, or partner with a local wellness-focused provider who can come in and speak to employees about health related issues.
    3. Distribute fitness trackers. Aside from the ability of these gizmos to provide feedback to employees, forward-thinking wellness companies have developed the ability to link things like their company app to the fitness tracker to engage employees in taking action. As you now know, engagement is the key to keep them participating.
    4. Educate your employees. How many calories and grams of fat are in a Burger King Whopper with cheese? Don’t know? Neither do most of your employees. Not sure what exercises to do or how to do them safely? Most employees don’t either. You can’t be an expert at everything, so find those who are and have them teach your employees.
    5. Offer health-risk assessments. For $5 to $15 per employee, your health insurance company can provide online assessments. You can also partner with local wellness professionals, who can provide an understanding of health for employees to take action on and get them started in their facility.

    Ultima Fitness and Wellness has been focused for years on providing the very best services for the health conscious individual in Wellington and Palm Beach County. By starting with the tips listed above, companies can tap into the same benefits that members of Ultima have enjoyed for over 25 years. If you’re interested in getting your company started on a corporate wellness program, email Ultima at info@ultimafitness.com.