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How fitness benefits help prevent burnout and foster an engaged workforce

Photo: Ryland West/ALM

In our increasingly competitive business world, where 60% of employers feel that their employees will expect a wider variety of benefits options in the future, the ability to meet the expanding and unique benefits needs across generations is critical to attracting and retaining top talent. Between the shift to hybrid work, the ongoing expansion of the gig economy and intense competition for skilled talent, employee benefits must evolve to meet the demands of the modern workforce.

One such demand is benefits programs that prioritize employee wellbeing by offering resources, support and encouragement for employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. Consequently, forward-thinking organizations must recognize the connection between employee wellbeing and overall business success — and provide benefits packages that promote a culture of wellness and empower employees to take charge of their mental and physical health.

From reduced health care costs to boosted productivity to enhanced employee engagement, investing in fitness benefits focused on promoting a healthy work-life balance and reducing stress delivers numerous advantages. The shifting paradigm has transformed how we view health care — moving the focus from reactive treatment to a proactive prevention “exercise is medicine” mindset. A key component of emphasizing the role of physical activity in optimizing health outcomes and preventing chronic illnesses is integrating artificial intelligence — AI — into fitness benefits, enabling a more personalized and approach to employee wellbeing.

This article delves into why businesses should prioritize fitness benefits as a cornerstone of their employee wellness programs, exploring how leveraging AI-driven fitness solutions contributes to a healthier workforce and combats the rise of employee burnout.

The need for employee wellbeing

Employee wellbeing comprises five interrelated and interdependent elements: physical, career, community, social and financial. In today’s dynamic and competitive landscape, the significance of a healthy and engaged workforce has taken center stage, given the significant productivity, job satisfaction and growth gains.

Statistics and studies resoundingly underscore the prevalence and consequences of employee burnout. Defined by the World Health Organization as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” employee burnout is characterized by three dimensions:

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
  2. Increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.
  3. Reduced professional efficacy.

A recent Gallup report reveals that employees who say they very often or always experience burnout at work are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times more likely to actively seek a different job. Worse yet, the business impacts of burnt-out employees extend beyond disgruntled individual employees, negatively affecting team dynamics, organizational culture and, ultimately, the bottom line.

Poor employee wellbeing compromises employee performance, diminishing the quality and quantity of work and job satisfaction and engagement. Not only do health care costs surge due to increased medical visits and treatment for stress-related ailments, but absenteeism also escalates as employees opt for mental health days or extended leaves of absence.

The imperative for employee wellbeing is clear: Companies that invest in fostering a culture of wellness and work-life balance reap numerous benefits. Beyond enhanced performance and productivity, boosted employee wellbeing also helps with recruitment, as job seekers increasingly scrutinize an organization’s commitment to their mental and physical health and quality of life.

But how do fitness benefits leverage artificial intelligence to address burnout while cultivating a robust, engaged workforce?

From treatment to prevention: How AI-driven fitness benefits unlock the “exercise is medicine” approach

The conventional health care model and most benefits packages emphasize reactive treatment — waiting for ailments to arise before intervening. Unfortunately, this lackluster approach fails to prevent illnesses and promote a holistic understanding of health.

Enter artificial intelligence.

Some modern benefits programs empower employees to improve their health, fitness and happiness by harnessing AI technology to provide personalized fitness experiences that prioritize overall wellness, with “exercise is medicine” at the core. The unique concept argues that regular exercise is a means to manage existing conditions and a potent preventive measure against chronic diseases.

With numerous studies showing that regular physical activity can lower the risk of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even certain types of cancer, evidence supporting “exercise is medicine” is growing. Even better, exercise helps improve mental wellbeing, helping alleviate stress, anxiety and depression — particularly relevant factors in burnout prevention.

AI-powered fitness offerings transcend the limitations of traditional health care contributions by leveraging the power of AI to create personalized fitness plans tailored to each individual employee’s needs, goals and preferences. With the ability to analyze a wealth of health metrics, biometric information and exercise history data, AI can create tailored fitness strategies that align with employees’ unique circumstances.

Transforming raw data into actionable insights, AI helps guide employees in effective exercise routines, recommending appropriate intensity levels and even adapting plans as fitness progresses. This level of personalization can enhance the likelihood of engagement, as employees perceive tangible results, creating a virtuous cycle where employees and productivity thrive.

Furthermore, AI-driven fitness benefits address the insidious threat of employee burnout by helping reduce stress, enhance moods and elevate mental resilience through regular physical activity. As employees engage in exercises they enjoy, the positive psychological effects of exercise better equip them to navigate the challenges of the modern workplace.

Embracing proactive wellness to boost recruitment and retention with AI

By embracing these benefits, companies can cultivate a healthier, more engaged workforce — one that avoids burnout and thrives in the face of adversity, driven by the power of personalized fitness and the AI-driven “exercise is medicine” approach. Best of all, potential candidates increasingly prioritize companies emphasizing employee wellness and offering progressive benefits packages in today’s ruthless job market.

Read more: Why personal and small group training is on the rise in corporate wellness after the pandemic

Consider how harnessing AI-powered fitness benefits can empower more strategic, informed decision-making. Whether working to combat burnout, enhance employee engagement or boost overall productivity, fitness benefits that combine in-person and digital experiences offer employees the flexibility they need to reach their goals.

Does your organization need to rethink employee fitness? Look no further than an AI-driven wellness program that your employees will love.

Bob Allison is the founder and CEO of PEAR Health Labs, a California-based adaptive digital fitness and wellness coaching company that augments training with technology to build intelligent products and solutions.

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