The development and management of corporate fitness in the United Kingdom
There have been a considerable number of studies that have examined the potential benefits of companies investing in corporate fitness (CF) programmes and the results have been well publicised. However, in the UK, little research has investigated the development, implementation and management of CF and how this has impacted upon programmes and their effectiveness. The aim of this thesis was to begin to fill this void of research and understanding and to examine whether CF is regarded as an initiative that contributes to organisational success. Therefore, the management of CF was evaluated so its role within corporate philosophy and its relevance to research on business management could be assessed. The research analysed the perceptions of both users (n=149) and non-users (n=122) of CF, through two separate questionnaires, that sought to gain both qualitative and quantitative information. To examine the experiences and perceptions of individuals working within CF, semi-structured, qualitative interviews (n=25) with CF consultants (n=7), managers (n= 11), company representatives (n=5), a member of the Health Development Agency (n= I), and a member of the Association of Workplace Health Promotion (n= I) were also conducted. In addition, a group discussion was held between key CF industry figures to discuss further issues raised during the interviews. The results indicated that CF has become increasingly popular amongst employees and prevalent within companies, arguably as a result of general changes in attitude towards health, fitness, and lifestyle. CF has begun to develop a more holistic approach to health and fitness and has been commonly rebranded 'Corporate Wellness' (CW). However, CW is not significantly different from CF and the effectiveness of programmes in positively impacting upon the majority of the workforce is doubtful. CW tends not have a high profile within companies and providers are restricted from developing more effective management and marketing practices, partly due to a lack of resources. In addition, companies fear that instead of improving work performance, through improved well-being, employee productivity could actually deteriorate as individuals spend less time working. Currently, companies lack an understanding of the role CW plays within the workplace and, as a result, programmes lack direction and do not have any clear objectives. The future of CW, as a beneficial initiative, will be dependent upon the development of effective management strategies that will encourage company-wide participation and demonstrate that its associated benefits are a reality. In conclusion, the research suggests that CW is predominantly used as a perk for those individuals who have an interest in health and fitness. Consequently, contrary to previous research, the evidence indicates that CW, in the UK, is not an essential initiative within corporate management.