More companies are beginning to understand the importance, as well as the benefit, of offering health and fitness perks to their employees. This new trend is being spearheaded by innovative founders that are on a mission to create a thriving work environment.

It's no secret that healthy, happy and fit employees are an asset to a company. Harvard Business Review published several case studies on their positive benefit, in addition to the best way to design a program that works. Below are some reasons why founders are taking steps to ensure the health and well-being of their teams.

1. It instills the same qualities required to succeed in business.

Succeeding in fitness requires the same approach as it does in business -- hard work, dedication and the willingness to do whatever it takes to accomplish goals. When you create a work environment that is constantly competing, both inside and outside of the office, you benefit from mentally stronger employees.

"Seeing fitness related results, whether it's weight loss or strength increase, takes time and commitment. Those that work hard get a taste and want more. That creates internal competition within themselves that will carry over into the workplace," explains Farar & Lewis LLP's founding partner, Joel Farar.

2. Company sports teams provide a great team building exercise.

Teams that bond together outside of the office become much stronger units, and a company sports team is a great way to host an out-of-office activity that promotes health, wellness and company culture.

Justin Gilchrist of Optimum Feedback believes company sports teams are a great alternative to after work happy hours and dinners.

"Legalities and liability issues aside, a company sports team helps forces everyone to work together, which builds a stronger bond," says Gilchrist. "They are also family friendly, and this opens the door for much more personal team building and connections."

Softball, kickball, pool, bowling, etc. -- the opportunities are endless and the barrier of entry cost is minimal, making this an option most businesses can swing.

3. Complimentary gym memberships are a very cost-friendly benefit.

Employee benefits are a big selling point, and one of the tools some businesses leverage in order to attract top talent. Even if your company health insurance plan doesn't offer anything in regard to gym memberships, it's something that you can offer in addition that's a big hit.

"Even if you are coming out of pocket month-after-month, the cost is very minimal. There are several gym franchises with locations in most areas, like Planet Fitness, that offer memberships as low as $10 per month. That tiny investment can pay off ten-fold," says Lamber Goodnow's James Goodnow.

You can even take it a step further and coordinate group fitness classes for your team. This relates to the team building point above -- the more time employees spend together in a competitive team environment, the stronger that team will become.

4. Providing on-site healthy food options results in greater productivity.

Want to create instant employee satisfaction, while also making them more productive? Feed them.

"There are many studies that have outlined the benefits of eating several small meals each day, rather than the traditional three. By providing healthy snacks on-site you are promoting a healthier lifestyle, while also giving your team the tools needed to be more productive and always full of energy," explains Adam Boalt, CEO of PassportRenewal.com.

You can opt to hire a distribution company to keep you stocked with healthy food options or do it yourself.

5. It subconsciously instills the importance of goal setting, commitment and follow-through.

To succeed in athletics and fitness, one must set goals, commit to doing whatever it takes to reach those goals and follow-through on all actionable plans. Many founders are seeing that the encouragement of sports and fitness helps to create the traits required to perform at the highest level in business.

"I have been part of several large corporations in the past, and an athletic mindset tends to spill over to the workplace. Goal, preparation, work ethic and the trill of winning is no different on a ball field than it is in the office," says Hada DBank's CEO, Mohd Al-Shazanous.

Not every employee is going to welcome sports and fitness with open arms, so it's important to explain all of the benefits of participation, beyond just health and well-being. Simply learning a new skill helps the mind grow stronger, contributing to personal growth.

Published on: Apr 1, 2018