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4_Reasons_to_Offer_Gym_Memberships_as_an_Employee_BenefitYou already know the importance of offering your employees a robust employee benefits plan. Doing so has many advantages for your business: You can reduce turnover and attract top-tier talent to work for your business. In addition, you can increase productivity and improve your bottom line.

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The best reason to offer benefits, however, is the human factor. Employees who have good benefits are often healthier and happier. They’re more engaged at work, and they’re more productive. They take fewer sick days, and they’ll often report they have a higher quality of life.

Can gym memberships improve your employee benefits plan? While some employers have been hesitant to offer them to employees, there are a few good reasons to consider including gym memberships as an employee benefit in your business.

1. It Promotes Health and Wellness

A gym membership can be offered to employees on its own or as part of a larger wellness program at your workplace. If you’re already planning to offer some wellness benefits, a gym membership can be a great addition.

While you can’t make everyone hit the gym every day to maintain their fitness and physical health, providing a gym membership can make it easier for your employees to engage in healthy behaviours such as exercise.

Finances can be a barrier to health for some employees. By providing them with the gym membership as an employee benefit, you can remove this barrier.

2. It’s Preventative Medicine

Employees who exercise are generally healthier over the long term and they take fewer days away from the office. Regular exercise has many health benefits. It can improve sleep and lower stress, help people maintain a healthy weight, and help them lower their risk of heart disease.

Offering a gym membership as an employee benefit can help your employees engage in this activity, which then promotes their health.

There are many good reasons to focus on your employees’ health.

3. It’s Cost Effective

One reason to offer gym memberships as an employee benefit is that it’s cost effective. Wellness programs are also seen as cost-effective plans. They help employees avoid long-term, chronic health issues that may require costly surgery or expensive medications.

Gym memberships are usually less expensive than monthly prescriptions. You may even be able to negotiate a corporate discount for your company employees at a local gym. Employees who maintain their health are less likely to need to rely on other, costlier health benefits you offer. Yes, they may still catch a cold from time to time, but they’re less likely to develop a chronic condition that must be treated over time.

4. It Can Be Tax Efficient

Some employers hesitate to offer employees gym memberships as a benefit because, in many cases, a gym membership is considered a taxable benefit for the employee. This means you’ll have to tax it and withhold, or the employee will have to pay taxes to the CRA on the amount at the end of the year. While this amount may not be much, it does add to the tax burden for you and your employees.

There are some situations when offering gym memberships can be tax efficient for the employer. If you can prove the primary beneficiary of the membership is the business, it’s not a taxable benefit. You could also arrange to use a local facility and have membership transferred to your business, not individual employees. As long as employees are able to use this benefit, it’s considered non-taxable.

There are many good reasons to offer gym memberships as an employee benefit, and they certainly outweigh reasons not to offer them. Consider adding gym memberships as the first step in creating an employee wellness program or as another pillar in an already-existing program.

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Margaret Reid

As the senior vice-president of Apri Insurance Services Inc., Margaret is a benefits consultant and manager of technical support. She has almost 40 years of experience in employee benefits as well as processing health and dental claims, benefits administration, and client service and groups sales. Margaret worked at Crown Life, a major insurance carrier, for 20 years, then worked at CG&B as the manager of their group department. She moved to B.Comm Financial Insurance Solutions in 2007, which merged with several other benefit consulting companies in 2011 to create Apri Insurance Services Inc. Margaret has unintentionally followed in her father’s footsteps. He was a group sales rep with Crown Life when she was a child and helped her get her first job in group insurance, which led to her current career path.

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