Phil Carville: Company fitness |


Assume that you manage/own a company and you can’t find enough employees to operate your business. Your only option is to terminate your existing, loyal employees and to close your business.

Unfortunately, this has been the case in Nevada County too often over the past couple of years. Numerous restaurants, retail stores and other businesses have been forced to do just that. Heart breaking and economically disastrous for both owners and employees.

This is also a pressing national problem. Today there are 11.5 million unfilled job openings in America. That means hundreds of thousands of companies do not have the necessary number of employees to function efficiently. It’s hard to find and keep employees.

But there is another problem.


Americans work harder than workers in almost any other country — 85.8% of American men and 66.5% of American women work more than 40 hours per week. We work 169 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 400 hours per year more than British workers, 435 more hours than German workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers. In addition, because of long hours, 60% of American workers do not get enough exercise.

In 1960 only 20% of mothers worked. Today, 70% of children live in households where both adults work. We work too much and get too little exercise! No wonder people are dissatisfied and it’s hard to keep employees.


A University of Michigan study showed that employers who emphasize fitness save an average of $1,400 per year for every employee who stops smoking, $1,500 per year for employees who exercise or lower their cholesterol from 240 mg to 190 mg.

MD Anderson Cancer Center reported that when its employees exercised, lost workdays declined by 80 percent and cost savings increased to over $1.5 million. Productivity increased by 67 percent. $1 invested in wellness benefits returned $5.82 in reduced absenteeism.

The conclusion is ‘invest in your employees and you will have happier, more productive employees and you will realize major cost savings’.


The Nevada County Fire Safe Council purchases memberships for its employees at the South Yuba Club. Our Vince VanValkenburg sat down with Executive Director Jamie Jones to learn why the council does it.

Vince: Why did you decide to purchase employee membership?

Jamie: We want our employees to healthy and strong. Also, we have seen a sharp decline in workers’ compensation claims, especially back strains and injuries. Besides, the South Yuba Club has it all — workouts, group exercise, yoga, sauna, swimming pool, tennis, pickleball … you name it … it’s there.

Vince: Have you seen tangible financial benefits to membership?

Jamie: Yes, our health insurance carrier provides discounts because our employees are healthier than national averages. Just as important is that we have happier employees, and they stay with the council longer. We also find that offering employees a club membership is an excellent recruiting tool.

Vince: Would you recommend other companies to do this?

Jamie: Yes. It’s a no brainer. If you want happy employees, then do it.


Certainly, companies can buy monthly health club membership for employees and write it off as expense. An alternative is to register for a corporate membership and a dues discount, but have the employees pay the dues. This option provides a discounted dues and a savings to the employee. Many local companies provide employees with that option.

The commonsense of it all is that showing your employees that you care provides cost savings while making employees happier with more pride in their jobs.

Like Jamie says, “You have it all.”

Phil Carville is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club. He is happy to answer your questions or respond to comments. You can reach him as [email protected]


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