Corporate wellness centres – the investment of choice

Family commitments, traffic and other life related pressures, cost, accessibility and time constraints prevent many from pursuing an active lifestyle. Due to these facts, even for those staff who are members of externally based gyms, only 30 percent actively make use of their membership. The workplace, where people spend most of their time, is the ideal place to implement strategies to improve overall well-being.

Studies have shown that one of the few benefits that employees are willing to pay for themselves, are gyms or wellness facilities. 30% of employees are generally already members of health clubs, yet are unable to make use of their memberships due to time and accessibility constraints.

However, when the offer of a well-managed, well equipped, onsite facility is available we see memberships and utilization of these corporate gymnasiums and wellness centres of around 30-50% of all staff.   An onsite wellness centre for employees allows them to train at a convenient time and place at an affordable rate. “Internal wellness centres can be up to 30% cheaper than what is commercially available and infinitely more accessible to all,” says Tony Payne, Director at Technogym SA. “When managed properly, internal wellness centres have the added benefit that they can have dedicated staff to create targeted programmes that cater for the specific outcomes for every individual person,” he adds.

Wellness programmes have sometimes been viewed as a nice extra, not a strategic imperative. Newer evidence tells a different story. Healthy employees cost companies less and therefore a strategically designed investment in employees’ wellness and physical health pays off.

Benefits for employers include:

  • Lower costs. Evidence suggests that for every Rand spent to operate an onsite wellness centre with target programmes, employers can expect a R3 return.
  • Greater productivity. Factors that contribute most to loss of productivity in addition to sick days are depression, anxiety, migraines, diabetes, back and neck pain – all of which can be significantly improved with regular physical activity. Healthy employees have increased energy levels, interact better with others, are absent less often and show an improved work performance.
  • Higher morale. Wellness centres strengthen an organisation’s culture and builds employee pride, trust and commitment.

Investing in wellness means investing directly in the company. A study by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health, shows that organisations with highly effective wellness programmes report significantly higher productivity levels than those who don’t have these programmes. Wellness centres that adopt programmes which are actively driven and incentivised and which pro-actively manage the risk profiles of employees, deliver measurable results.

When planning a Wellness Centre correctly, the company needs to take into account that the centre should be able to offer services to the entire population group. This includes those that are healthy and already interested in fitness training as well as those who are showing symptoms of being unhealthy or are at risk. The business model that works best is where the entire service model can be funded from the memberships at the gym, i.e. the equipment cost, staff costs for operations and for clinical testing and programming for high and medium risk members.

“Technogym in conjunction with the operations company Activate Health, have developed a model with a proven track record for covering costs and delivering results. Technogym and Activate, will assess the specific needs of a company and its staff, as well as the available space and budget, and will then do a feasibility study and prepare a business case to ensure cost coverage and long term sustainability of the centre. We can supply effective self-funded or part-funded solutions that measure actual levels of personnel participation and their return on the initial investment. In addition to tailored turnkey solutions including corporate wellness centre operational management and clinical programme design, we help to set up Corporate Wellness programmes that encourage physical activity to increase energy levels and improve productivity,” says Payne.

“Corporate wellness centres don’t have to put any strain on the finances of the organisation. When operated correctly, they can be part or completely self-funding, whilst offering employees affordable membership in tough times and providing affordable and specialised healthcare to employees at risk” concludes Payne.

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