HRE’s Number of the Day: Fitness benefits

90% Percentage of employees who say it’s at least somewhat important that an employer offer fitness and wellness benefits, according to a national online survey conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of Gympass.

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Although 16% of companies say they’re considering cutting benefits as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many employees still see value in benefits, particularly fitness-oriented benefits, the Gympass survey found. Stay-at-home orders, gyms that haven’t reopened and pandemic-related stress all underscore the role of healthy and fitness in overall wellbeing, says Nikki Salenetri, vice president of HR at Gympass, a corporate wellness platform.

The pandemic is prompting Americans to prioritize their health and that’s a “reckoning” that’s here to say as employees adapt to the “new normal,” she says.

What it means to HR leaders

Given today’s economic uncertainty, tough decisions could be on the horizon. If benefits are on the chopping block, fitness-related benefits are sure to come under scrutiny, despite the advantages they provide to employers and to employees.

“Benefits like this that help make employees more productive, engaged and less stressed have never been more financially worth it than they are now,” Salenetri says. “On top of that, having healthy employees cuts down other healthcare costs in the long term for organizations. We’ve seen that companies are committed to these benefits more than ever despite these costs. ”

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Fitness and wellness benefits have a strong return-on-investment, she says, something many employers don’t yet understand. But Salenetri expects that will change soon.

“I think over time wellness benefits will be viewed less as a perk and more of a must-have as the aftermath of the pandemic pushes employers to realize just how important their mental and physical wellbeing is to their employees’ productivity, retention and overall happiness,” she said.

Haley Prophet, senior wellbeing specialist at Garmin, which relies on Gympass for its employees, sees those results firsthand. “We know our associates’ well-being does in fact drive associate performance and the emphasis should remain on how to successfully support that for all associates,” she wrote in an email.

Flexibility in your approach is one piece of advice both Salenetri and Prophet agree on if your HR department is adding fitness benefits. “Recognize early on that all of your employees are different and that wellness can mean something different to each employee,” Salenetri said.

Added Prophet: “Incorporate a broad variety of initiatives that look holistically at a person’s health and wellbeing and allow for individual autonomy to determine what their needs are at that time and how individuals chose to engage in various offerings.”


Editor Elizabeth Clarke contributed to this story.