Reebok, Other Employers Step Up Their Game With Fitness Perks

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By Carmen Castro-Pagan

Nike, Reebok International Ltd., and other U.S. sports apparel giants are helping employees get in shape with a slew of fitness-related perks that could also create a few new customers. Offerings include on-site gyms, CrossFit and yoga classes, sports shoes, twice-a-week morning and afternoon runs, bike rides and Ultimate Frisbee sessions.

Under Armour Inc., Brooks Sports Inc., Deckers Outdoor Corp., Recreational Equipment Inc., and others are also offering fitness-related perks. Such companies are taking it to the next level in terms of fitness-related benefits, said Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, founder and chief executive officer of ComPsych Corp., the world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs. The benefits complement the company’s brand and culture, Chaifetz told Bloomberg BNA.

“These benefits are what I would expect from these organizations,” LuAnne Heinen, vice president at the National Business Group on Health, told Bloomberg BNA. In terms of benefits, they’re “walking the walk,” Heinen said.

Active Workers May Stay Put

REI, Reebok and Brooks offer the most fitness-related perks, according to Bloomberg BNA’s research. And that could be helping their employee retention rates. Compared with their peers, REI and Reebok have low employee turnover rates—23.8 percent and 28 percent, respectively—according to the companies’ data on the Bloomberg Terminal. No information was available on Brooks.

REI employees at headquarters in Kent, Wash., enjoy lunchtime activities that include Ultimate Frisbee, bike rides, running, yoga and CrossFit. Employees can also apply for a special grant to achieve an outdoor-challenge goal and have received funds for a variety of challenges, from a 50-mile bike-ride to a Mt. Everest expedition, according to the company’s website. REI also offers all employees one day off every six months to “go outside and play.”

Brooks employees run hard but they also Run Happy, following the company’s motto. They get a free pair of Brooks tennis shoes, and women on board also get a free sports bra and fitting, according to the company website. Brooks also has a prize program to encourage employees to get active and track their workouts. The perks also include a yearly stipend to help pay for employees’ active endeavors.

Brooks has an on-site gym and on-site exercise classes. Rooftop yoga sessions offer one of the most gorgeous views in Seattle, the company says. It also offers “Tuesday morning and Friday afternoon runs.”

Based in Boston, Reebok, a subsidiary of Germany’s Adidas AG, offers an on-site gym that includes a CrossFit box and a yoga studio, according to the company’s website. Reebok also offers a cafeteria with healthy choices.

Under Armour, the official footwear supplier of the National Football League and Major League Baseball, offers an on-site gym, physical therapy and a nutritionist at its headquarters in Baltimore, Md., a company spokeswoman told Bloomberg BNA. The company prides itself on offering an on-site subsidized cafeteria with “FitMeals” that employees can track with “ My Fitness Pal.” This last perk shows Under Armour’s commitment to invest in connected fitness. In 2015, the company paid $474 million to acquire My Fitness Pal and $85 million for Endomondo, according to company data on the Bloomberg Terminal.

Nike, the world’s largest shoe and apparel company, also offers an on-site fitness center on its headquarters as well as fitness discounts. “Nike’s competitive benefits program provides employees with the opportunity to stay fit, ensure the wellness of their families, and create a positive working environment,” the company says on its website.

These companies are pivoting toward well-being, Heinen said. Employers report that the number one risk factor for their workers is stress, she said. One way to mitigate stress is doing physical activity and meditation, Heinen said, citing Nike’s provision of stretching areas.

Massages, Legal Aid, Organic Produce

Companies have also added nontraditional benefits that look after their employees’ financial, social and family needs. Common benefits among sports-related companies include tuition assistance programs, paid sabbaticals, paid volunteer time and donation matching programs. Deckers, besides providing an on-site fitness center in its Goleta, Calif., office, also offers car wash services, dry cleaning, massage therapy, nail and waxing services and fresh organic produce delivered weekly. The company also provides accessibility to stand-up paddle boards and cruiser bikes.

Deckers has a group legal plan that includes access to a nationwide network of attorneys with affordable legal fees. The company also has a housing assistance program for eligible employees that allows them to save money when purchasing a home, refinancing a mortgage, or renting an apartment.

REI provides employees with student loan assistance.

AdidasAmerica’s approach to work-life balance includes flexible hours and happy-hour Thursdays at its Portland, Ore., headquarters, according to the company’s website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Carmen Castro-Pagan in Washington at ccastro-pagan@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bna.com

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