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Even during the economic slowdown, corporate fitness and wellness programs survived relatively unscathed as more employers realize that an investment now in these programs could pay off later.
Success in Small Towns
Interestingly, it is not just club operators in big metropolitan areas that are capitalizing on the corporate fitness trend. Mary Greeley Medical Center’s Lifetime Fitness Center in Story City, IA—population of about 3,500—has nine corporate fitness clients.
“Initially, we were approached by a company here in town that wanted to improve their employees’ health and fitness,” says Brenda Baker, supervisor of the fitness center. “They asked if we would give their workers a discount to our facility and then send them monthly utilization reports.”
One of Lifetime Fitness Center’s corporate clients, Key Cooperative, an agricultural co-op, reimburses each of its employees $15 per month if he or she works out at Lifetime Fitness Center at least eight times during that month.
“Even that small amount per month seems to be a good incentive for some employees to get them in the gym,” says Valaree Muhlenburg, human resources director at Key Cooperative.
The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that 31 percent of organizations offer rewards or bonuses to employees who complete certain health and wellness activities. But bonuses, discounts and other incentives do not work for everyone. Enter one of the newest strategies: disincentives.
“Even the insurance industry is starting to look at disincentives when they talk about employee consumerism,” Flanagan says. “In this concept, the onus is on the employee to participate and get well or pay more for their health care. A lot of companies are interested in that now. And HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) allows for that. If a company offers a bona fide wellness program, it can offer an incentive to use it—or a disincentive to those who don’t.”