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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.
Incentives and disincentives might help motivate employees, but many business owners want to ensure that the memberships are being used. Lifetime Fitness Center sends Key Cooperative a monthly report noting the number of visits by each employee.
That type of tracking, however, may not be enough in the near future. Increasingly, corporate clients want to see that their wellness offerings actually are improving worker wellness and decreasing health care costs in a tangible and quantifiable way, several corporate fitness management executives note.
“Five to 10 years ago, employers wanted to see mainly screenings, such as health-risk assessments, lipid profiles, etc.,” Siena says. “We would aggregate the data on employees to give to the employer and to raise awareness of employee health levels. Now, awareness is not enough. Today’s employers want to provide programs and initiatives that actually increase the health level of high-risk employees and keep all employees healthy.”
Proactive Partners has geared up for this heightened requirement of in-depth data tracking.
“When we get requirements for data, we collaborate with the client, usually the HR reps, and we supply what they need, such as an employee assessment profile,” Siena says. “We can aggregate and collate various data, and then give employers and their insurers information that helps determine health care costs vs. participation in specific programs, injury prevention program participation vs. injuries logged, and other correlations that help the employer quantify the programs we offer.”
“They want to see in the aggregate that the percentage of a population using a facility is showing actual health improvements,” he says. “To help achieve that, we make it mandatory that each participant undergo an initial health risk assessment with biometric measurements. We then aggregate those data, no employees’ names given, calculate the risk factors and show the client.”
LifeStart is taking this concept to the next level. This year, it will open 15,000-square-foot wellness clinics inside corporate fitness centers at two clients’ sites: one at the Altoona, PA, headquarters of a gasoline and convenience store chain, and the other in New Orleans at a manufacturing facility. The wellness clinics inside the corporate fitness centers will have registered dietitians, physical therapists, exercise physiologists and other professionals on staff.
“We’ll be able to share data between the clinic and the fitness center, to refer members back and forth,” Flanagan says. “These are forward-thinking companies, and with them, we’ll focus on ancillary services of health care, screenings and reporting.”
Through the clinics, LifeStart will be able to better show how employer costs are affected by LifeStart’s work, Flanagan says.
“So we’ll be able to produce more complex reports for clients,” he says. “We’ll have shared data migration, which will be essential in our ability to track employees’ progress.”
Flanagan will publish the results when he has enough information to share with the rest of the corporate fitness and wellness industry, he says.
Operators such as Flanagan show that facilities with the right resources who are not currently focusing at least some of their marketing and programming efforts on the corporate market may be missing a large revenue opportunity.
Today’s corporate leaders appear to now understand the inherent value of a healthy workforce, and they seem ready to support initiatives that help them achieve that goal.
“Corporate fitness is not just about discounting dues, like many commercial clubs do,” Siena says. “Rather, it’s about improving the health of people in the community.”