Best Way to Implement Corporate Wellness Strategies for Small to Mid-Size Companies

Written by Jeff Binek

Let’s face it, employees have their own mental and physical health, happiness and future opportunities on the front of their mind when picking their place of work. It’s not just salary and vacation days anymore, it’s the flexibility to work from home when possible, the ability to make their favorite fitness classes, be involved with a community and be home in time to see their family.
Corporate Wellness is now a business essential, and the HR departments in small-to-medium sized companies are unprepared to handle this demand. This is our typical experience: Leadership passes down that it wants to be a company that cares about the health and wellness of its employees. Maybe leadership also knows of all of the financial benefits to a healthy / happy company vs. an unhealthy, unhappy work force. Either way, HR has this new task on its desk, and they don’t know where to start. Oftentimes they engage in a discussion with the resident health nut of the company that goes something like this: “Hey Sarah/Steve, you’re super fit and take your health seriously, what do you do?” This ‘strategy’ isn’t good, and often leads to dead ends as most fitness companies don’t offer anything outside of discounts for companies.
Mind you that the above scenario is the good companies who have decided to make it a benefit of the company, this is to say nothing of the companies who don’t even think about it and make no attempt to help the health & happiness of their employees. So, let’s discuss what is a great plan for a growing company that isn’t looking to break the bank, but would love to offer something meaningful to its employees that will ACTUALLY HELP (no, doing step challenges doesn’t count).

1. Meet local (not chain or franchise) gym owners and coaches. 

Local businesses are flexible and often are run by the most professional trainers in the city. Look for a long-standing local business with a solid ownership team.  The best fitness and nutrition coaches don’t work for franchises, they own their own businesses, work for established small businesses or simply work alone due to their results driving word of mouth business for them.
If you’re an HR director, ask around and create a list of local personal trainers, nutrition coaches and gyms that your employees or clients engage with. Cut out all franchises as most won’t work with small-to-mid size companies (or don’t engage outside of their own 4-walls) and blast an email out to the gym’s main email to schedule a phone interview. Ask what the gym’s strategy would be for a company of your size and any other companies they’ve worked with. If they have referrals, get those and keep track of any of the companies you liked…then move on to step-2.

2. Ask for a Lunch & Learn or Workshop for the employees. 

Ask the gym’s top coaches to talk about Nutrition and Fitness so the company can hear their approach to health, and see if it fits your culture. This is typically done free of charge to the business and acts as a good interview for the gym. The coaches should bring value and discuss the services provided and it’s best if you can have most of your employees sit in on the meeting, so that you can send a survey or have a discussion about next steps. If you liked what you heard, felt engaged and good about the coaches, then move onto step 3.

3. Moving forward with a partnership. 

There are two main kinds of partnerships:
  • a) Employees can utilize the services of that fitness and/or nutrition team at a discount:

This is the easiest and lowest barrier of entry for most companies. Setting up employees with a discount at a reputable local gym can help them save upwards of $250-500/year on their health and wellness. Some companies will go so far as to add a subsidy where they offer to pay the gym $40-60/month per employee, and with the discount added in you can get a high quality personal training level fitness & nutrition package for $60-80/month. This is a huge value to the employee, because these local gyms will provide guidance, accountability, community, programs and classes, meal plans and more…all for the same price they would pay to just get open attendance in a traditional globo gym where people pay simply for access and nothing else.

An additional benefit here is that your employees and clients working out together in the local community will build camaraderie, potential business relationships and we’ve even found business owners and management finding excellent employees in the motivated, hard working structure that a gym provides. We even provide free private team-building small group sessions for all of our Corporate partnerships.

  • b) The fitness facility can send representatives to the company’s building and engage in fitness and/or nutrition coaching for the employees:

If your company has a fitness facility, or is mainly interested in helping employees with Nutrition, the gym can send coaches or associates out to the facility to run classes or nutrition coaching sessions. This can be a bit more expensive as you have to plan in the coaches training time, additional equipment needed, etc. but is very convenient to the employees, and can take place during business hours. When we’ve done this in the past, we will typically come and meet with people on Nutrition, providing guidance and accountability on a meal plan while they finish their lunch. We’ve also consulted on lunch offerings and catering provided by businesses to ensure they’re setting up their employees for a highly nutritious and energy-giving lunch.

There are other opportunities offered by some gyms, but these make up the lions share of what we’ve seen companies want, matched with what gyms and coaches will offer.

4. Following up: 

Fitness Facilities engaged in partnerships should be providing updates and feedback to the company on the progress of their employees. Blind feedback should also be taken from HR to garner future interest and keep a pulse on if it is a benefit worth keeping. We believe that fitness facilities need to earn the continued business every day, week and month. Things like biometrics, performance tests and blood tests are great ways for employees to monitor their health and wellness gains, and for companies to see their dollars being put to good use.
Corporate Wellness strategies are no longer optional. If your company is not offering this, or if you’re in HR and unprepared for this, you are behind. The best companies are currently engaged with aggressive partnerships bringing additional value to their employees health and happiness.
If you have questions on Corporate Wellness Strategies please reach out to [email protected] for a free consultation.