Gym at the Office...?

We all know how exercise can make you look good, feel even better, and live a long, healthy life. But now, picture having a gym at the workplace. Could this work? With such high obesity rates in the United States, having one in close quarters could see an improvement moral wise and performance wise! But also to many, the costs outweigh these benefits without thought. After all, the investment needed is significant and there's also the fact not many are inclined to do it in the first place. So why bother in the first place?

I say bother.

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Studying Economics at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, I have become accustomed to analyzing and acknowledging factors affecting employee and hence, overall firm performance. Could implementing a gym really bring benefits to a company, via a cost-benefit analyses, and change the outlook of a company's culture and performance? 

Obesity and poor physical fitness seems to be the common in many countries, like the US, where 1/3 of the population are obese and many more are just simply unhealthy. Sure, this raises causes for concern, but why should employers or any company for that matter doesn't effect their profits; or can it? Perhaps caring can provide further benefits that you may have not foreseen.

I believe every company should have a gym or physical fitness center on-site at every workplace. Lets take a look at a rational cost-benefit analysis.

Say goodbye to the lame old excuse of "not having time" to go to the gym or exercise. If it is 5 days a week of work, there's 5 more days of having zero excuses of not having time. Many will find that it is now so convenient to keep fit and healthy, and do not necessarily have to go out of their way to exercise. This will certainly provide enough motivation to take even 2 or 3 of those days to work out. They can even find the energy boost they needed to get through the day more efficiently with being more focused and relaxed. Having a more positive attitude at the workplace will even make the whole 9-5 thing much more enjoyable. Keeping healthy and fit can also prevent sicknesses and absences. But that's getting into the employer benefits, which are quite substantial to say the least.

Whatever investment the employer carries out; be it via on-site centers with trainers and spas, or even simple little gyms; the benefits can be gained in every way. We know that a positive attitude and increased morale can benefit a company, through increased productivity and reduction in sicknesses and absenteeism. This can even save on insurance costs!

But what happens if no one uses the gym, and you've wasted some significant capital? Well, no need to worry. Companies can introduce incentives for exercising, such as a requirement to use the gym facilities at least 2 times a week and deducting membership fees from salaries if unmet. Simply giving extra time off on breaks can see employees more inclined to use the gym. A good idea would be to host competitions such as a "biggest loser contest", where the employee who reduces the most weight can receive extra incentives like gift cards or other fringe benefits. This can create a healthier, happier, and more competitive employee workplace. All of these improvements in morale can boost company image and make attracting top managers much easier. Everyone wants to be a part of a successful, morale-driven organization with high regard for employee well-being. 

Further research into this area shows remarkable evidence of how much companies can save in reduction of medical costs for obesity. There is billions of dollars spent on medical services on this issue, and many of them are of course employed by millions of companies! It all adds up in the end, and will affect everybody.

Providing a gym/fitness facility can truly impact a company in more ways than just financial. The savings in costs, improved employee production, and a a more positive, mindful culture makes this an easy investment decision; benefits far outweighing the costs. I truly believe a healthy body is a healthy mind, and having such easier access to these facilities can provide these multitude of benefits!