Reopening Onsite Wellness & Fitness Centers: Lessons learned
HealthSource Solutions | Blog
When the pandemic hit, HealthSource Solutions had to close the doors to our corporate Wellness and Fitness Centers, many of which did not reopen their doors until 2022. Our staff did what many employees had to do: they pivoted. They became health and wellness coaches from their homes. It was not easy, but they stepped up to the plate and really made an impact. They connected with employees in a variety of ways from live streaming classes, to recorded wellness messages and classes, to phone calls, to emails, to intranet communications, to virtual challenges. They kept what we call “our secret sauce” of employee wellness going — our hands-on support, and they continued to build meaningful connections with our clients. After successfully reopening all of our onsite Wellness and Fitness Centers, we asked our staff to reflect on this process and share what they've learned.
We are seeing that many employees are excited that our Wellness and Fitness Centers are open again. Quite a few employees that have a remote or hybrid status, are choosing to come into the office for group exercise classes because they love the variety and motivation they get from our instructors and the other participants. They feel there is something special about the in-person environment that you just can’t get with a virtual live stream on YouTube or web conferencing. Pre-pandemic, going to the Wellness and Fitness Center was once a large part of many employees’ daily routines. With the reopening of our centers, they are looking forward to transitioning into a new routine with their workouts to relieve some stress and to build back strength and endurance lost due to the pandemic.
“Employees are loving the flexibility to come back into the office, and they see the Wellness Center as a huge perk and motivator to come in!” — Emilee T., Program Manager
“I started a walking club recently and didn’t think many people would be interested, but I now have a good amount of people that come each week and they are asking for more scheduled walks per week now! “ — Hayley J., Sr. Wellness Specialist
Two main challenges have come up as we have reopened our onsite Wellness and Fitness Centers: Communication and the Hybrid Work Model.
The most difficult part of this transition of reopening our Wellness and Fitness Centers is avenues of communication. There have been a wide variety of communication restrictions limited throughout the pandemic so the important information (covid guidelines, vaccination requirements, return to work) can be seen and not lost in a slew of emails. It is challenging to get in front of employees. We’ve had to be creative with how we get information out by utilizing multiple communication channels. One email will simply not cut it anymore. Our communications avenues include:
- Electronic billboards on TVs
- Flyers in break rooms
- Emailed newsletter
- Posts to intranet sites like SharePoint and Yammer
- Special events in high-traffic areas (outdoor yoga near the cafeteria at lunchtime)
- Setting up a table near the entrance or cafeteria
- Creating videos and shorter trailers (reels + shorts) on YouTube and other platforms
- Passing out voucher codes for more points on the wellness portal
- Posting or emailing a daily trivia question
- Sharing calendar invites to events and activities
- Individualized and personal emails to select participants
- Utilizing facility-wide corporate communications
- Leveraging team leaders and managers to share information
- Hosting open houses, lunch n’ learns, seminars and webinars to share information
We continually learn, brainstorm, and use new ways to connect with employees from working on email access to grant us “send rights” to all employees, offering options to be added to a specific newsletter distribution list, word of mouth, etc.
Hybrid Work Model
In a hybrid work model, employee utilization of the Wellness and Fitness Center is mostly out of our control since working from home is a choice. It has seemed that if people have the option to work from home, they will work from home. We may only provide a small sliver of value of encouragement to come to the office. In addition, due to the shutdown, many employees acquired their own workout equipment to use at home, or, they have a gym they go to on a regular basis that’s close to home or offers more amenities than what our centers provide. These scenarios often make being a member of a corporate fitness center obsolete.
“I have spoken with a couple of individuals who need some variety in their work week and CHOOSE to come onsite to see their colleagues in person and visit the Wellness Center.” — Anna M., Sr. Program Manager
As we navigate the changing workforce and strive to enrich employee wellbeing, it is important that our onsite Wellness and Fitness staff focus on these three aspects of their work:
Continue to Be Flexible
While the future of work is changing, the future of the wellness industry is changing. We can’t assume the 'new normal' is here to stay, we need to continue to be flexible and adaptable. You can be as prepared as possible for a reopening, event, project, or program, but be ready to adapt with a potential backup plan if things don’t go how you imagined.
Continue to Provide Quality Services
We are confident from the feedback we’ve received from employees that they value the quality of our services (webinars, live offerings, classes, meditations, flex breaks, personal exercise programs, health coaching) and once we get an employee to experience that offering, they will want to come back or refer the service to someone else. We can keep the quality up and continue to grow and improve on those services.
Continue to Provide Outreach to Meet the Needs of All Employees
Our virtual services and platforms are still in high demand, so for now, what we have built can be successful for any work setting in-person or hybrid. Sites with hybrid employees are continuing to offer virtual and in-person services including personal exercise programs, wellbeing partner chats, health coaching, custom events, virtual meditations, fitbreaks, flexbreaks, and webinars. We are meeting each employee where they are at. Whether that means that an individual is on-site, in a different state, or in a different country. Once we connect with those individuals, we are asking them what works best for them vs. assuming what they want.
“We must do everything we can to find new ways to reach people and if it gets just one more person to engage and start to live a healthier life then that is worth the time and effort.” — Anna M., Sr. Program Manager
Onsite Fitness Center Management
A 25-year client shares how our Onsite Fitness Center Management has made an impact on employee wellbeing before and during a pandemic, and how we continue to support a hybrid culture.