In this episode we chatted with Peerfit CEO Ed Buckley about creating better wellness benefits that employees will actually use. Wellness benefits are popular at many companies, but oftentimes they aren’t actually used by employees, so they have little impact. Ed is a former personal trainer and group fitness instructor who holds a PhD in Digital Health Behavior, so he’s uniquely qualified to address the problem of underutilized wellness benefits. He generously shared his insights on the problems facing traditional wellness benefit programs and how Peerfit is addressing them with a new model.
Ed’s journey to working in health technology started as a child, growing up in an active family that valued health and wellness. As he pursued his degree, he kept coming back to the intersection of behavioral health and individual wellness. He wanted to explore what motivates people to stay fit and how they keep this motivation over time. He’s able to put these interests into action as the CEO of Peerfit, a digital health technology company that uses behavioral science and tech to deliver a wellness benefit that inspires people to work out.
The Problem With Wellness Benefits
The big problem with traditional wellness benefits is the same big problem facing many benefits products: a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work. Health and wellness are hyperpersonal. What motivates someone will be unique to them and their mindset because everyone has different goals and different things influencing their actions and habits. So it’s important to provide a benefit that has some flexibility and customizability in order to meet employees’ needs and help them build healthy habits. To accomplish that, these benefits should be fully-funded.
“Fractured Fitness” Presents Another Issue for Employee Wellness
Twenty years ago the fitness industry mainly consisted of big box gyms. The market was dominated by places like LA Fitness, Crunch, etc. They continue to be a one stop shop with something for everyone. In the 2000s we saw the rise of boutique fitness studios that specialized in just one activity, like yoga, pilates, or crossfit. These boutique studios saw a massive expansion across the country with tons of adoption, particularly because they could offer a great experience in their niche service, but they charged a massive premium in the process.
This trend made it incredibly expensive to incorporate a range of fitness activities into your routine, and working out with friends became challenging because they might not have access to the same fitness studios where you work out. All of this led to a very fractured fitness landscape. That fractured fitness landscape is something that Peerfit is passionate about addressing, so people can get a high quality experience and have more opportunities to work out with friends and coworkers in one wellness benefit.
Peerfit wants to make it easy and affordable for employees to work out with their colleagues and friends. Instead of covering a portion of a gym membership like traditional wellness plans, Peerfit covers all the costs for average users to visit a wide range of fitness classes and studios in their local area. That means that for most users who go to fitness classes or gyms once or twice a week, they will see those costs covered. If you’re a superuser, then you can pay extra for additional classes or gym sessions. That covers more people and gives them tons of flexibility.
Peerfit isn’t just about fitness, it’s about getting healthier by working out with your peers. The people around you have more to do with your fitness habits than even your own decision-making. Peers at the office can work out together and have a variety of options from kickboxing to yoga. The fact that it’s paid for helps get rid of one of the biggest excuses for not working out.. Plus, when peers invite you to workout with them, you can silence your own internal voice that says maybe you should skip, or maybe you don’t want to go.
Peerfit is a positive way to harness peer pressure and create a healthier corporate culture where socializing happens in a fitness class rather than at a bar or restaurant. Wellness benefits can be underutilized if they aren’t tailored to what people want and paired with a supportive, cultural shift toward a more active lifestyle. Peerfit is all about creating ways for people to get active and stay active on a regular basis, and they’ve found the community unlocks impact when it comes to wellness benefits.
How Peerfit is Adapting to the Changing World of Work
Many companies are having to adjust their benefits packages for employees who are going to remain remote forever. Remote staff can’t use a gym onsite or a gym across the street from headquarters. So employers need a benefit that is scalable and flexible for all employees, no matter if they work out near their home or near the office.
Peerfit has a nationwide network that allows employees to access fitness facilities where they live and work. Research shows that people will work out within five miles of their home or workplace, with preference given to the workplace in the past. That is likely shifting now with people working from home, as people have grown accustomed to going to facilities near home. So Peerfit is leading the charge with giving employees access to in-person fitness opportunities all over the country, plus tons of virtual fitness courses that they can access wherever, whenever.
To hear more insights from Ed, including how the pandemic led to five years of adoption in five weeks at Peerfit, listen to Episode 22 of Better Benefits now. If you enjoy the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform.
Ed’s Recommended Resource
On every episode of Better Benefits, we ask our expert guests for a book or resource they’d recommend to others working in the benefits space. This week, Ed spoke about a few books that have resonated with him at different times in his career journey. He highly recommends all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, which provide great insight into human behavior. He also highlighted Ride of a Lifetime, by Bob Iger. Ed tells us that Iger is one of the best CEOs of the modern era, and he gives great advice about running a company. There’s no handbook for being a CEO, but this work comes close with an intimate, behind the scenes look at the job.
If you’d like to connect with Ed you can visit the Peerfit website or find him on Linkedin and Instagram. Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Ed Buckley and Peerfit are not endorsed, affiliated with, nor compensated by Greenhouse Life Insurance Company.