Opinion article by Duarte Ramos, Vice President of People for Gympass Europe.
One of the most important things in the world of news is being in the right place at the right time and the only way to do that is to get out there and meet the experts, joining the discussion live. Our editorial team recently went to the HR Directors Summit in Amsterdam and you probably saw a sequence of interviews with Gympass’ most senior HR professionals (we hope you liked them as much as we did!).
To look ahead to this unique encounter we asked Duarte Ramos, Vice President of People for Gympass Europe, to give us his opinion on how corporate wellness programs can disrupt healthcare costs in organizations all around the world.
Enjoy the article!
The hard figures: investing in sports subscriptions reduces absenteeism costs
Offering a sports subscription to employees is often seen as a cost item. However, what few HR professionals realise is that this investment will soon be returned. The hard figures show that sport subscriptions, such as gym subsidy or in-company classes, encourage approximately half of the sedentary staff to exercise, which increases labour productivity and reduces absenteeism – with savings of an average of 1,200 euros per employee per year.
Absenteeism has always been a bit of a headache for the HR department. The reduction of absenteeism is, logically, a major priority for many HR managers. But how to achieve this, that’s a tougher story.
In recent years, there has been a shift from a reactive absenteeism policy aimed mainly at re-integration of sick employees, towards a more preventative approach. In other words, absenteeism policy is increasingly aimed at preventing it and keeping employees healthy and vital. This is already an improvement, but there is still a world to be won.
At least, if we can believe the hard figures.
Number of sports subscriptions doubled
One of the ways to invest in the vitality of employees is by investing in a physical activity subsidy for employees. In the past, sports was seen as a private affair, however, the line between work and private life is blurring, especially for a younger generation.
Although investing in the vitality of employees has not always been at the top of every companies’ priority list, we see that management boards and HR departments realise what the investment in vitality programs yield regarding, for example, the productivity of employees. The use of Gympass has doubled in a years’ time, and that means something.
Sports improves productivity
The initial skepticism is of course somewhat understandable. However in practice, it turns out that such an investment returns quite quickly. There are countless studies that clearly map out the relation between productivity gain and vitality programs. Researchers at the University of Bristol found that 79% of workers delivered better performance on days when they were also exercising. We can’t deny the facts: employees who have been given the space and the right incentive to workout during business hours become more productive, and productivity is on all of our daily agendas.
Companies that embrace physical activity and wellbeing initiatives are also equipping themselves with a way to develop competences. Sports can improve or develop soft skills because of the impact that physical exercise has on our mindset. Think, for example, about stimulating team spirit or leadership, both qualities that can be learned through sports.
The reason why this is important is because we increasingly see that people work for a purpose, instead of being motivated by the company or the leader they work for. If you think about this further, you see that this can have a deep impact on the job market. It changes how attractive companies are in the eyes of future employees. The question is: how do you contribute to that personal purpose? The answer will impact directly on the way we see talent management, and the evaluation of development and success.
Offering a subscription helps
Does it help to offer a sports incentive as an employer? The figures are very clear about this. Research done by Multiscope on behalf of Gympass in the Netherlands shows that offering a gym subsidy encourages employees to be more active. Not only the people already regularly exercising but also the inactive workers said they would lead a more active life if their employer offered the benefit,. Almost half (47%) of more than a thousand surveyed stated that they would start exercising if their employer offered a financial subsidy.
In short: investing in vitality programs is something that not only radiates on your organization as an employer (and can help in the battle for talent), but such an investment is also a smart one due to the saving on absence costs. Companies would do well to give employees the time and space to pay attention to their physical and mental health;
They become happier and more productive.
If you plan to join the HR360 Summit, please make sure to drop by and check-out our lecture.