By Emma Saldanha

The health, happiness, and welfare of your employees has benefits for both your employees themselves and your business. The fitness sector, while perhaps younger and faster-moving than some industries, and with a definite overlap into the wellness industry itself, still faces the same challenges as the rest.

Besides, the moral imperative to look after your employees isn’t new at all. It has long been recognized by employers, and there have been studies conducted that show having a healthy and happy workforce helps a business to be more profitable.

What can be done?

There are many factors at play in increasing employee wellness from good pay, clear targets, and a sense of feeling valued, to flexible working, understanding managers, and innovative ideas that improve both the physical and mental health of employees.

The following tips are some of the best employee wellness ideas that businesses in the fitness sector can implement to ensure their employees are healthy, happy, and productive. Above all, they emphasize the importance of making employees realize they are appreciated as human beings and not just as workers.

Encourage Employees to Focus on Their Physical Health

Employers in the fitness sector are perhaps better placed than any other to look after the physical health of their employees. The leisure center or gym that you manage already likely has a comprehensive suite of exercise facilities, possibly including things such as a weights area, a swimming pool, tennis courts, or a running track. On top of allowing employees, and possibly their close families, free access to these facilities, perhaps consider allowing and encouraging some exercise time during the working day.

As with all of these ideas, you will find this is most effective if you consult with your employees as to how to make this most beneficial. Ask what times would suit your employees for a short exercise break to re-energize them during the working day. You could even introduce fitness challenges such as that implemented by SnackNation, who asked their employees to cover a certain distance in 4 weeks and also awarded individual prizes.

Allow Employees to Take Proper Rest During the Day

As well as exercise, proper rest is vital for good health. Ensure that employees are not tempted to work through their break periods but instead are offered a comfortable canteen with a healthy menu, or even access to a nutritionist to guide them to a healthier diet. Perhaps some comfortable chairs for reading, a pool table, or even a designated ‘nap room’ where employees can enjoy a few minutes of sleep can be incorporated into this rest area.

Provide Enough Time Off

First up, make sure employees know that it’s OK to take time off when they are ill. Not only will they not be able to perform properly if they are unwell, they also run the very real risk of transmitting whatever they have to colleagues or customers, possibly with serious consequences for those with underlying health problems. Proper rest may even help them to recover more quickly from whatever is ailing them. Preventative medication such as flu vaccines could even be offered.

Some companies have experimented with unlimited paid leave and unlimited parental leave. This doesn’t mean that employees can take never-ending holidays, but that they are given a set of goals to meet and, providing they meet them, can take as much time off as they want. This won’t always be possible, but it does tie into flexible working as some services, such as nutrition advice or personal training, don’t always have to be offered at set times of the day or even on-site.

To encourage employees to work schedules that suit them, consider offering them more control over their working patterns. Gym rota software can allow your employees to choose days and shifts that suit their lives, keeping them happier and healthier by working around their other commitments and preferences.  

Offer Access to Counseling

Any underlying issues, such as a family bereavement or ongoing mental health problems, can put a strain on your employees, so think about offering a counseling service or mental health awareness training. Just knowing that the company is aware of the issue and can help signpost employees towards suitable help could be all it takes to make an employee realize that they are not alone and that they are valued. Financial pressure can also often be a trigger for mental health problems and some employers are looking at ways they can educate employees on financial matters.

Encourage Personal Development

Most employees crave recognition and promotion for their efforts more than financial compensation or rewards. Providing a clear pathway for them to get that extra responsibility and pay rise is crucial. One way of doing this is through providing learning and personal development opportunities. 

This could involve giving them access to relevant courses that may be beneficial to their career or instigating individual personal development plans to help employees identify areas that may help them in the future.

It’s worth remembering that your business and its employees are unique, and so the key to implementing any of the above tips will be working with your employees to find what works best for them. It may take some experimentation along the way, but if you make a commitment now to improve employee wellness, you’re likely to see positive, profitable changes before too long.