SILVER SPRING, MD – February 9, 2016 – It’s corporate recess for adults. And, it pays many ‘dividends.’ That’s the philosophy of a Canadian company that is just as committed to its employees’ physical fitness as it is to producing and selling its product.
Twice a day, the 85 employees of the John Brooks Company in Mississauga, Ontario have 15-minute fitness breaks: at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. During these breaks, many employees go outside for a brisk walk, some go for a run, others walk up and down the indoor stairwells, and a few do calisthenics and stretch. This has been the company policy for four years. The company also subsidizes health club memberships for its employees. The results of the employee fitness breaks are stunning. As a result of this focus on fitness, there’s less absenteeism at work, better employee morale, and no increase on money spent on health care claims in four years.
Another big benefit to employee fitness is financial: the John Brooks Company’s bottom line. A Benefits Canada study states that companies are reporting a savings that range from $2 to nearly $7 per person for every dollar invested in workplace wellness.
“We see the benefits every day,” company president Gord Bell told the Mississauga News. “Healthy employees are happy productive employees - and we can have fun doing it.”
“Companies in the U.S. would be well-served to implement an employee fitness policy which is similar to that of the John Brooks Company,” says Mike May, director of communications, PHIT America. “The benefits are real and tangible.”
“Exercising regularly -- three or more times per week -- will, on average, raise weekly earnings nearly 7 percent for men and 12 percent for women,” says Vasilios Kosteas, a Cleveland State University economics professor.
A recent Mashable story outlined the efforts of seven companies – Fitbit, Houston Methodist, Google, Motley Fool, Earth Friendly Products, Zappos, and Draper, Inc. – which are focused on creating a culture in the workplace which is fitness-focused.
At Las Vegas, Nevada-based Zappos, the company is fully committed to employee wellness and fitness. According to Kelly Maher, the wellness coordinator at Zappos, if an employee wants to compete in a road race (5K, 10K, triathlon, half marathon, etc.), then Zappos will reimburse that employee for the registration fee. There’s also a gym located at the office which employees have complimentary access to 24 hours a day. The company also fully endorses Recess Tuesday, where employees are encouraged to get up from their desks, mingle with other company employees in the company plaza, and play volleyball, basketball, or play some tetherball. According to Maher, this helps open up communication lines with other people in the company. It’s worth noting that Recess Tuesday is now happening every day. And, once a quarter, the company pays for wellness adventures where a small group of employees from different departments will go for daylong excursions/trips, which encourages stronger lines of communication and efficiency in the office.
Not surprisingly, Under Armour is one company that encourages its employees to practice what it preaches. The Baltimore, Maryland-based company has its own gym on site, aptly named the Under Armour Performance Center, a 10,000-square-foot fitness facility. Employee memberships to the Performance Center are subsidized by Under Armour. The general public is allowed to join the gym, too, but, there is a waiting list. Also, just outside the company headquarters, there’s a mock football field which is decorated with the Under Armour logo. This outdoor fitness venue is often utilized just before the work day and immediately after the work day.
Another sports company, Baden Sports (Renton, WA), is aware of the importance of fitness in the workplace as its employees are encouraged to take walks during their lunch hour on a nearby public trail.
And, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (Silver Spring, MD) provides its employees with a monthly subsidy to pay for their employees’ health club/gym memberships.
“My daily midday fitness sessions help recharge my batteries and propel me through the afternoon,” says Kathy Mejasich, SFIA’s vice president of strategy and operations. “My fitness sessions make me sharper in the office and more efficient.”