Yesterday was International Workers’ Day, a holiday created to commemorate Chicago’s Haymarket Affair of 1886 and the events leading up to it. The long and short of it is this: in 1867, the federal government passed a law guaranteeing federal employees an eight-hour work day; all Illinois workers were covered by a similar law. But the government failed to enforce its own law, and workers in Illinois were forced to sign waivers of the law as a condition of employment. So, on May 1, 1886, labor leaders organized a protest to demand adherence to the eight-hour rule. It ended badly, a few days later, with riots, police killing protestors, and someone throwing a bomb into the crowd.
What does all this have to do with anything? Well, it seemed like a good day to talk about a recent study that found out what today’s employees desire most: onsite fitness facilities. In a way, this could speak to the failure of the demand for eight-hour days so long ago; although eight hours is still the law, millions of salaried workers work ten- or twelve-hour days, or even longer, and just a few months ago Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, called for ending overtime pay for hourly workers. Clearly, employees need a way to shake off the stress of their long days.
But more than that, it speaks to our present-day understanding of how crucial fitness is to health, and the link between fitness and productivity. According to the results of a survey, titled Principal Financial Well-Being Index: American Workers, twenty-five percent of workers who did not have an onsite fitness facility in 2012 wanted one, up from 19 percent in 2011. (The second most desired benefit was fitness center discounts; twenty-three percent of workers who did not have an onsite fitness facility in 2012 wanted those).
Now, only 12 percent of workers who participated in the survey said their company offers an onsite fitness center. What does this mean? There’s a demand for your services, and so far the demand is going unmet. Have you visited local companies to talk to Human Resources folk about how you might be able to help keep their employees happy, either by bringing your business into their building or offering discounts and opportunities in your facility? If not, it’s time to think about doing so. And then go ahead and knock off of work early today—you’ve probably been there for too long already anyway.