Why You Should Offer WSA Fitness Allowances To Help Reduce Employee Burnout

Today’s always-on attitude means our calendars are constantly filled with competing priorities. Our technology is buzzing and beeping alerts and notifications 24 hours a day. We’re carting the kids to their extra-curricular events while prepping for the next meeting. We’re wolfing down dinner as we answer messages on multiple devices. Meantime, healthy habits like managing stress, focusing on one task at a time, or getting to bed at a decent hour seem like near-impossible asks.  

Sound like your typical day? It’s typical for your employees, too. While some deem this kind of lifestyle synonymous with success, employee burnout plagues organizations world-wide. This go-go-go behavior by you and by your employees is costing you in the long run in lost productivity, low engagement, increased safety incidents, and so much more. In fact, it is estimated that over $180B a year is spent on healthcare costs due to stress in the US. But, you can do your part to help reverse this trend.  

By offering a Wellness Spending Account (WSA) that includes flexible fitness allowances you can improve your employees’ engagement and thus positively impact productivity. You can help your people break the stress-fueled lifestyle that’s ravaging their energy, crippling their productivity, and sapping their well-being before it’s too late.  The HSA Group has already written about Why You Should Offer Your Employees a Wellness Spending Account. Read on to learn how the power to prevent employee burnout through fitness allowances can rest in your hands.  

What is a WSA?  

Employee WSA fitness allowance can be used as a perk given to them to promote healthier lifestyles. You can incentivize employees with eligible categories such as gym memberships, fitness equipment and even running shoes. In its simplest form, WSA fitness allowances provides the employee the flexibility to decide how they want to remain (or become more) fit. Your WSA also provides support for physical activity-related expenses, which is not only great for their body—it gives heir mind a workout too!  

Why offer fitness allowances as part of your health and wellness benefits 

There have been numerous studies in the past 20+ years showing the link between happy, active, and overall satisfied employees and productive employees in the workplace. While physical exercise is most often associated with weight loss or muscle building, studies also show that employees who engage in regular physical exercise are more focused and productive during the day. In addition to these short-term gains, your employee’s physical and mental health can be a predictor of insurance premiums and sick days, down the road. By promoting employee wellness today, you’re actually investing in your company’s long-term future.  

By offering flexible, healthy fitness allowances as part of your compensation package, you can show current and prospective employees that you care about them beyond simply providing a paycheque. When offered and promoted/communicated thoughtfully, WSAs including wide-ranging fitness allowances can be a very effective way to position your company’s culture above your competitors.  

Dozens of fitness allowances are CRA-approved taxable benefits 

After 15+ months working remotely, employers and employees have a fresh observation of their old benefits offerings – specifically as it pertains to fitness allowances and WSAs. Many businesses will continue working remotely for months to come. Without the ability to overlap their work with fitness, employees will desire to join gyms and fitness classes near their home. And, they will be looking for their employers to pick up a portion of the fee. ClassPass conducted a recent survey that found 70% believe fitness benefits to be one of the most important perks an employer can offer. With 92% of workers planning to return to gyms once the pandemic ends, your WSA can provide flexible fitness allowances for them and their dependants as well. They can use your employer-provided WSA on physical health benefits such as: 

  • Athletic footwear 
    • [TIP: Make sure to include the word “athletic” or “running” when claiming your athletic footwear.] 
  • Certified instruction for a physical activity over and above the facility fees (e.g. personal trainer) 
  • Home exercise fitness equipment 
  • Instructed fitness classes (e.g. drop-in fees, passes, etc.) 
  • Monthly or annual fitness centre fees 
  • Sports equipment (e.g. helmets, skis, etc.) 
  • Sports league/facility fees 
  • Personal Training / Wellness-related programs (e.g. a nutrition or meal plan purchase, membership fees, etc.)

Examples of fitness-related wellness expenses not covered by your WSA include accessories, bags, clothing, food, kitchen products and weight loss or meal replacement supplements. 

Your Health and Wellness Insights 

Your delivery of a flexible employee fitness allowance as part of their overall health and wellness benefits package is an effective method of reducing stress in the workplace. If you’re curious how The HSA Group’s HSA and WSA health and wellness solutions can assist your business with employee engagement as part of your total compensation package, contact us today.