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Are corporate gym memberships worth it?

Are corporate gym memberships worth it?

Posted: Thu 2nd May 2019

Nishal Desai from imin writes the latest post for the Business Health Hub with Equipsme.

Many businesses recognise that healthy, active and engaged staff are happier and more productive. That's why so many include a subsidised gym membership as part of their offers and incentives to employees.

A lunchtime swim or after work spin class might seem like just the tonic to sending emails from a desk all day long. But how many people who have access to corporate gym memberships actually use them? It's a relevant question for anyone who cares about the health of their teams and who wants to evaluate whether subsidising gym memberships is a good use of their budget.

We partnered with 4global's DataHub team to conduct the study, analysing hundreds of thousands of UK gym memberships from 2018*.

What we found was a tale of two halves, with some corporate members visiting the gym extremely frequently - and others not at all.

Corporate gym memberships work really well for some, and not very well at all for others.

Even though the employee initially signed up, almost one in four corporate memberships aren't used at all, but the employer or employee is still paying.

imin corporate gym memberships research

Amongst those who do use their gym membership, however, there is a hardcore minority (44% of those with a membership) who visit at least once a month.

These guys are the real gym bunnies. Amongst this group, the average usage rate is 8.5 visits per month.

imin corporate gym memberships research

Combining 56% of corporate gym members who visit less than once a month with the majority of employees that don't sign up to gym perks in the first place, it's clear to see a huge group of employees who could be better supported by employers to live healthier.

imin corporate gym memberships research

The reason such a big proportion of the workforce will remain underserved with corporate gym memberships only is because employees need choice and flexibility in how and where they get active. Some people like the gym, some people hate it, some people like tennis because Wimbledon is on, some people like to get the family involved. Preferences and situations vary. A lot.

One person might go from avid Boxereciser in the winter to tennis court amateur in the summer. The physical activity offer must be flexible to accommodate these changes in preferences. Why limit benefits offered to something that's only statistically likely to adequately serve less than a small fraction of the workforce?

Businesses have incredible potential to help their employees improve their health. Gym memberships are just a small part of it. And the good news is there are a growing number of venues and organisations such as leisure centres, running groups and bootcamps that want to connect with companies to help get their workforce active. If one thing is clear, it's that corporate gym memberships, whilst well intentioned, are not enough.

If you want to develop a fresh offer to support the wellbeing of your employees, imin would love to help.

*Note: DataHub member data is predominantly from organisations running publicly funded leisure centres.

Get more tips for helping employees remain healthy and stress-free in the Business Health Hub

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