a research analyst working in a finance company have
to be a fitness freak? Or, for that matter, does a
software professional, who divides most of his time
between chips, bits and bytes, have to sport a sinewy,
athletic build? Or, does a worker, who sweats it out
on the factory floor day in and day out, need to explore
the finer realms of yoga?
few years ago, these questions would have been laughed
off as the conjurings of a highly imaginative mind,
of a theorist who lived before his time. But not any
it would not be wrong to rewrite the hoary saying
and render it thus : A company is known by the man
it keeps. Especially in these days of cut-throat competition.
A physically fit, mentally alert employee is as much
a symbol of corporate dynamism as a healthy bottomlines.
is now in vogue and, sometimes, even considered mandatory
for certain executives. Thus, now many corporate houses,
which hitherto had restricted themselves to reimbursing
the medical expenses of their employees, are going
a few steps ahead to ensure hat their employees are
in perfect trim. And one ay of doing it has been setting
up fitness centres in offices, fully equipped with
the latest accessories in the market. It also serves
to put a subliminal message across to employees -
lose your flab to gain in output.
people are very health conscious. Since employees
in an organization put in more hours of work, they
hardly find time for themselves. If there is a fitness
center in the office, it encourages them to keep themselves
fit, and the staleness factor disappears." Says
Ravi Bhatia, vice president & director, corporate
bank has acquired a 500 sq. ft. fitness centre at
its administrative office at Parel in central Bombay.
Fully air-conditioned, it has a few accessories like
an exercycle, treadmill and weight trimming equipment.
The centre is open to all employees of the bank in
raison d'etre of fitness centre at its administrative
office at Parel in central Bombay. Fully air-conditioned,
it has a few accessories like an exercycle, treadmill
and weight trimming equipment. The centre is open
to all employees of the bank in the city.
raison d'etre of fitness centres within office premises
is not far to seek, though the companies might differ
in the perceptions of their expectations. Those who
have set up these centres believe they help prevent
sickness, and hence play a seminal role in increasing
productivity of the staff. With the pressure mounting
on executives for increased output, these centres
help them take a break unwind.
Padampat Gopalkrishna Ramapati group (PGR) is another
example. Says Rohini Raman, public relations officer,
"At PGR, each employee keeps himself fit by spending
a few moments in office doing four-five light exercises,
followed by meditation and yoga."
also has a club house at Jhalawar where facilities
for indoor games are available. Besides, each company
in the group offers different sports to keep their
employees fit and entertained. The Urjatharam unit
organises a sports event - Power sport - every year.
A marathon was organised at the Micron unit for company
also has a community activity centre in which executives'
wives play an active role in organising sports activities.
The event most looked forward to during the year is
a festival cricket match played annually on January
26, in which the game is played between mixed teams
of men and women. The women are allowed to bowl underarm.
And fours and sixes are not really worth it because
a male batsman is declared out if he hits a boundary
when a woman bowls.
the trend is still nascent. Among those who have gone
for these facilities are not only multinationals and
the cream of corporate houses in the country, but
also public sector institutions. For instance, the
headquarters of the Unit Trust of India (UTI) at Marine
Lines in south Bombay is equipped with a sophisticated
fitness centre and has an ambience to match the swanky
exterior and interior of fitness centres at deluxe
in the basement, the UTI centre has three divisions
- a general exercise room that is equipped with sophisticated
machinery, including a multi-station unit; a yoga
room: and a sauna and Jacuzzi section. One can swirl
on a circular disc to trim the girth, do pull-ups
to invigorate the muscles or reduce weight, or retie
into the yoga room and delve into the limitless realms
of the psyche. Immaculately clean and well-maintained,
the centre is open after 5.30 pm, and is the meeting
ground for the around 500 employees of UTI working
in the same building, as well as in the three adjacent
buildings in which UTI has offices. A few from its
office at the World Trade Centre in south Bombay also
visit the centre regularly.
very nature of our job involves a lot of stress. In
such a situation, working out n the centre can help
maintain the equilibrium between the body and mind,"
says Sudhir Kumar Dash, assistant general manager,
Research and Planning - UTI. According to Dash in
the case of many executives, work sometimes stretches
late into the night. In his own department it's routine
for executives to stay back till at least 7 pm. "If
I have to stay late, I spend half an hour in the evening
in the centre and then feel completely recharged,"
centre was the idea of S A Dave, former chairman,
who believed that setting up such a facility was another
way of saying that the organisation cared for its
staff. "Abroad, organisations like the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank provide these facilities
to their employees. And any company that is seriously
concerned about their employees' welfare would do
the same," he says. In a city like Bombay where
employees spend a lot of time commuting, such centres
are all the more necessary, he adds.
are a few factors that have encouraged companies to
stress on healthcare. Liberalisation resulted in increased
interaction between Indian companies and their foreign
counterparts and since these facilities are common
Bombay, socio-geographic factors are also important
reasons for setting up fitness centres on office premises.
"Shortage of space
is a major constraint for companies who want to
set up fitness facilities."
Frazzled after work, executives find themselves with
little time for exercise and even if they do, there
are not her constrains like shortage of space and
facilities. The city itself exposes them to health
hazards and in such a scenario, an office is the best
suited to take care of their needs.
companies permit even family members of employees
to use these services. For example, CMC's fitness
centre in Bandra-Kurla complex in Bombay is open for
the use of family members of the staff on Saturdays.
"Even then, the fitness culture is yet to set
in our country. And the facilities are not being made
use of in a way it should have been." Says Fabio
Dias, senior engineer at CMC, who is in charge of
these facilities. The centre occupies a 1,000 sq.
ft. area on the top floor of the eight-storeyed building
and the facilities it offers include Jacuzzi, rowboat
cycles, parallel bars, hydraulic pedal push, etc.
is more even food is coming into the purview of corporate
health watchers. At PGR, for instance, each employee
has to take a balanced meal that is either cooked
in the factory or served by a contractor. The menu
changes according to the season and requirement. Occasionally,
wives of executives visit the company canteen and
eat with the employees. They comment on the food and
suggest changes, if required in the quality of the
an interesting development a year ago, the food was
linked to attainment of company targets. Throughout
the year, a partial fast was observed by the company
employees on the second Tuesday of each month. On
the day, only soup and fruits were served in place
of complete meals. Thoughtfully enough, this was not
made binding on every employee.
in many offices that have these facilities, the awareness
among employees is low. For instance, of the 350 people
working in the CMC building, only four use it regularly,
and the women hardly think of using them. But the
management often exhorts the staff to make use of
these facilities by issuing notices. "We display
on the notice board brochures and pamphlets that educate
people about maintaining good health and the need
for daily exercises, adds Dias.
are other companies that emphasise yoga and gymnasium
activities. Larsen & Toubro conducts yoga classes
every month for its employees at its Powai office
in Bombay, for which it avails of the services of
living in cities are prone to blood pressure, diabetes
and psychosomatic problems. Yoga helps control these
ailments and is a good preventive measure," says
Dr. R. C. Panjwani, chief medical officer of L &
T. The company has a gymnasium with body building
facilities. Incidentally, an employee of the company
has won the Maharashtra shree title. L & T is
now planning to set up a full fledged fitness centre
is better than cure" seems to be the motto of
those who have set up health centres and fitness facilities
in offices. And the regular use of these facilities
by executives can produce good results: prevent sickness,
increase productivity, reduce fatigue and stress and
create a healthy atmosphere in the workplace.
expenses incurred on setting up fitness centres and
acquiring fitness equipment are nominal compared to
the longterm benefits they give," says Dias.
to Hiru Bijlani, author and management consultant,
the advantage of having fitness centre in the office
itself are three-fold: it saves on time for the staff,
saves on cost for both the employer and the employee,
taking into consideration the fees health clibs are
charging; and it creates enthusiasm among employees
and instills confidence in them. "But in the
city like Bombay, shortage of space is a major constraint
for companies who want to set up such facilities,"
that have sprawling complexes are in a better position
to offer these facilities to other staff. The Godrej
office at Vikhroli in Bombay, which has got residential
quarters for its staff along with its corporate offices
has all the recreational facilities inside a school
building on its premises. This is regularly used by
all the employees of the company.
much emphasis is now being laid on healthcare that
an increasing number of companies, which don't have
in-house facilities are encouraging their employees
to join health clubs and fitness institutions. For
example, Talwalkar's Institute, a leading fitness
institute in Bombay, has offered its services t various
companies, including the Kirloskar group, Phillips,
Venkatesh Hatcheries Ltd. Etc. The institute charges
Rs.4,000 - 7,000 per person and appoints a special
instructor for the company if the group comprises
around 15 members, all of whom attend the course at
the same time.
Talwalkar, director of the institute, however, says
that he is not keen at the moment on attracting more
companies in Bombay. The reason he cites is shortage
of space. The institute's branch in Pune, however,
is fully equipped to provide all sorts of services.
"A few companies like the American Express and
Air-India have been talking to me for quite some time
now, but nothing has materialised as they are haggling
over the fee," says Talwalkar.
companies might find it difficult to incorporate a
fitness centre in their existing offices due to various
reasons, many, who are setting up new offices now,
are adding a fitness centre to it. No wonder, because
with the new found emphasis on human resource development,
healthcare has become an integral part of the management
philosophy of companies.