Posted on April 04, 2018 by Gordon Smith

The long hours working culture that dominated the UK workforce for so long is changing.  Employees want a better work/life balance, which is why we’re seeing an upturn in people focusing on projects, hobbies or family activities to incentivise them to leave work on time.

For employees trying to manage life inside and outside the office more effectively, activities that help increase fitness and involve training for a specific event are also growing in popularity. As a result, major fitness events, especially charity fitness events, are seeing significant growth year on year.

In fact, since 2007, the number of fundraising events has increased by 700%, and participant numbers have doubled. Whether it is a marathon, 100k treks or a 5K walk, their popularity is not showing any signs of slowing down.

We look at how a corporate gym can help with a charity event or sports training programme, and an also boost employee engagement.

The rise of charity fitness events

The concept of charity fitness events originated from the London Marathon in the 80’s and 90’s, where organisers started allocating places for a small number of charities. This has now become so popular that charities now account for a third of runners.

Since then, charities have gone on to sponsor major events or create their own, such as Race for Life, 8 Peaks Challenge or the London-to-Brighton bike challenge.

Running still remains the most popular event and accounts for 77% of all fundraising pages on JustGiving, while triathlon and cycling events are increasing. Interestingly, it’s trekking that raises the most money at an average of £885 per event.

The reason for this rise in popularity is due to a combination of a number of elements, such as wanting to keep fit, lose weight, reduce stress, set a good example for children – or have a goal or focus – whilst raising money in support of a charity.

Whatever the reason, for office-based employees, finding the time and having the energy to train for such events is a key issue. And, with over 42% of staff wanting discounted or free gym membership, now is certainly the time to make it happen with a corporate gym.

How a corporate gym can help employee engagement

The secret to preparation for a charity event is to have a training schedule. Friends, family and acquaintances are some of the people who are sponsoring you to complete a course or route, so it is vital you’re in the best shape to do this.

A corporate gym can help with a training programme and can be an invaluable resource for employees to help build their schedule around their working day with minimal disruption to their daily routine.

Sometimes, at the end of a busy day at work it can be hard to get motivated to do exercise – a corporate gym means employees can work out in their lunch hour, or, if they are working a bit later than usual can break things up by going for a workout.

Not only that, but an in-house gym is a great way to increase employee engagement. And, when engaged, productivity can improve by 20-25%. A US survey found that by increasing employee engagement investment by 10% increases profits by $2,400 per employee, per year.

More importantly, there is a direct link between workplace stress and associated mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, which is currently costing the UK economy £2.4 billion, and an issue that businesses can no longer ignore.

Nick Sadler, Managing Director, m8group says:

 ‘Employee wellbeing is a key issue these days. Stress and its impact on mental health means employees want a better work life balance. Those employers that are responding and reacting will certainly have more engaged employees in the longterm.’

The positive news is that exercising up to three times a week can reduce the risk of depression by 20%, and this is where charity fitness events become invaluable as they help motivate employees to exercise and help boost wellbeing.

Employee motivation and good CSR

A corporate gym can put your business in a great position to help employees who are entering charity fitness events. It gives you the chance to establish a relationship with, not only employees who are training, but also to inspire other employees to get active.

It’s also an opportunity for great internal comms to help create a sense of community. Emails or newsletters updating the office on how training is going, as well as pictures of employees in action at the event can help boost morale.

Having a corporate gym can also be a driver for good Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The bigger charity events, such as Himalayan treks tend to need teams of entrants to raise more money than they would a bike ride or 5k run. This is a great opportunity for your organisation to sponsor a group of people and help give them the experience of a lifetime.

This level of CSR would certainly help get employees engaged and motivated, not to mention increase loyalty, and is also a great way to attract future employees to the business.

A gym for all budgets and sizes

A corporate gym is not something that is only affordable to major Blue Chips or tech companies with money to spend, far from it. There are gyms for organisations of all sizes and budgets and to suit all requirements.

There are a range of ways to pay for a corporate gym, whether it’s an upfront business investment, or based on employee contribution schemes, the idea of having a gym installed in your offices is not an impossible goal.

Employee engagement is critical for business growth and employee wellbeing, so don’t you think it’s time to get investing?