8th October 2020

Case study: Employee experience and wellbeing at The Gym

13th May, 2019

Tom O'Connor

Ann-Marie Murphy, Director of People and Development, The Gym in conversation with Tom O'Connor, Enterprise Customer Success Director, Perkbox

What do you do at The Gym to ensure you take a holistic approach to the entire employee experience?

We believe that the employee experience begins before you even start working with The Gym.This means ensuring that our culture and employee experience is reflected in our marketing, recruitment advertising and candidate experience.


A lot has been done over the past year to develop this and build our employer brand to truly reflect that The Gym is a fun, friendly place to work.


Due to being a multi site business it is also key for us to ensure we maintain our unique culture throughout the business, particularly as we continue to grow!


Communication is key, particularly when it comes to celebrating our successes. We use our intranet site to celebrate the inspiring work our teams do and share important information. In addition to this, great team relationships are built through regular individual and team meetings and of course a bit of healthy competition between the gyms.


Reward and recognition is also fundamental when taking a holistic approach to the employee experience. We have a range of in-house benefits aimed at rewarding the hard work our employees put in to the business, some of these include a company share scheme, travel loans, enhanced maternity and paternity and free EAP service. Our most popular benefit however is the Perkbox  platform which allows us to offer a wide range of employee discounts and perks to suit all our employees needs.


We also do this through our learning and development programmes, employee bonus scheme and our annual employee awards. We are looking at developing this further through launching Perkbox Recognitionto encourage more peer to peer recognition, as well as giving our managers the platform and budget to publicly recognise their teams and add rewards to this.


When it comes to mental wellbeing in particular, what does The Gym do to support its staff?

 As a very basic level all managers at The Gym have regular 121 meetings with their reports to ensure they really get to know their teams and build relationships. This is crucial in building a foundation of support for employees, where open conversations can take place.  


To build on this we have 3 trained mental health first aiders within our Gym Support team and we are looking to roll out this training to the wider business. To complement this all employees have access to an Employee Assistance Programme, providing a free confidential advice and counselling service and we use our intranet platform FIT and Internal People newsletter to publish articles/advice and guidance for employees on looking after their health and wellbeing.


We also deliver soft skills sessions within our Gym support team which cover things like time management, change management and mental health awareness - these courses are open to all employees not just management teams.


Lastly, one of our key charity partners is Movember, who focus on raising awareness for testicular cancer, prevention and research as well as male mental health and wellbeing. Our 2018 partnership saw us raise over £100,000 through our MOVE (mental health and suicide, with physical health helping the association between healthy mind and body) campaign, and our focus on the GROW message too (‘Grow the Mo’, testicular cancer awareness, prevention and research)


Do you have any advice for other businesses looking to implement an employee wellbeing strategy?

Often businesses have a fear of getting an employee wellbeing strategy wrong and as a result don’t implement one. Our advice would be to remember that any employee wellbeing strategy needs to have an element of greater education on mental health and how to look after mental wellbeing.



Did you encounter any barriers to implementing your wellbeing strategy?


Before implementation, we had to firstly help our managers deal with their own anxieties in talking about mental health. This was to ensure our employee wellbeing strategy was implemented as smoothly as possible from the beginning.


What's next when it comes to mental health and wellbeing at The Gym?

 ●     We planned lots of activities in support of Mental Health Week. With body image being the theme for Mental Health Week 2019 it is hugely relevant for our industry. We understand that everyone has different reasons for going to The Gym and we want to promote a healthy, realistic body image and promote the psychological, social and emotional benefits of exercise as well as the physical. This is evident in our 2019 ‘So I Can…’ campaign which emphasises all the different benefits and reasons for coming to The Gym.


●     We are rolling out our first aid mental health training to the wider business as part of our strategy of educating employees and managers on mental health and equipping them with the skills to support employee wellbeing.  

Tom O'Connor

Tom is Enterprise Customer Success Director at the employee experience platform Perkbox, where he heads up the Enterprise Customer Success Team as Perkbox scales internationally. Prior to joining Perkbox, Tom worked as EMEA General Manager at Travelzoo and at Go Euro as the UK & Ireland Country Manager.

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