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Growing evidence points to the benefits to employers of looking after their workforce’s fitness and wellbeing, writes Amanda Clout. Are you tapping into the corporate demographic?

As head of employee experience at Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation (12WBT) and a qualified personal trainer, I have seen the benefits of valuing employee health in the workplace first-hand.

Research shows that healthier employees are almost three times more productive and engaged in the workplace. With staff turnover in Australia costing in the order of $20 billion and workplace absenteeism costing $27.5 billion per annum, investing in your employee’s wellbeing makes good business – and hip pocket – sense! It’s an integral part of the 12WBT business model – and something that’s proven to have tremendous impact from both a personal and business perspective.

A recent ComCare review found solid evidence that employers who run health and wellbeing programs will reap the rewards of a much happier, healthier and more motivated workforce. It doesn’t have to cost a bomb, and there are several bottom line benefits, such as increased productivity, reduced cost of absenteeism and workers compensation, improved workplace culture (meaning reduced staff turnover), and increased reputation and brand – as well as attracting and retaining top talent.

12WBT’s founders knew from the beginning just how important it was to create a working environment where staff could do great work. And it’s paid off: in September 2014 we were named one of the Best Places to Work in Australia. The initiatives we have in place to support our employee’s health, fitness and wellbeing were key contributors to this acknowledgement.

Our personal trainers lead staff through a variety of weekly sessions, from group exercise to boxing, and we bring the office to a standstill twice a week for a 3pm stretch. Like many in the fitness industry, we are fortunate to work in an office with qualified PTs, group fitness trainers, exercise physiologists and yoga teachers. However, these kinds of activities don’t have to cost the earth for businesses looking to enlist external professionals – a fact that you could use when approaching local businesses with a proposal to initiate a corporate fitness scheme.

Shower facilities also make it easier for employees to exercise during the work day, and our fully-equipped kitchen, stocked with organic, healthy foods such as bread, fruit, yoghurts and muesli, makes it more convenient for team members to eat well at work.

Our flexible working arrangements have helped us attract staff who are the best in their fields. It also means that people can work the hours that suit other commitments in their lives, so that when they are rostered on they are 100 per cent focused.

Global research shows that health and wellbeing programs can increase employee engagement from 7 to 55 per cent. With a low turnover rate and very low levels of absence, 12WBT goes to show that it can make a big difference. A recent audited staff survey revealed that 91 per cent of employees feel they make a difference here and that it’s not ‘just a job’; 98 per cent say it is a great place to work; 91 per cent agree that it is a healthy place to work both emotionally and psychologically; and 96 per cent of people look forward to coming to work.

Some of our staff relay the positive effects of valuing health in the workplace: ‘I often look forward to coming into work knowing that there will be a lunch, or a netball game, or a workout session planned for the team.’ And from another: ‘All the staff are super motivated to do a good job…I haven’t experienced that kind of motivation in any previous companies I have worked for.’

I’d encourage any businesses thinking about new employee initiatives to consider how a few small changes can make a massive difference to your business – from the health and positive attitudes of your staff, to reducing company costs in the form of recruitment and absenteeism savings. For fitness professionals, presenting these benefits to local businesses, in conjunction with a well-planned fitness program, can open up a new client demographic.


Amanda Clout is head of employee experience at Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation

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