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Life Time’s 'healthy way of life' means five days of vacation for new workers

Life Time offers its year-one workers five days of vacation. After more than 10, they get 20.

Life Time offers its year-one workers five days of vacation. After more than 10, they get 20. Star Tribune

Life Time prides itself on being a “high barrier entry” health club.

The average membership costs around $89, but they can range anywhere between $70 and $300 depending on the club and the package. In return, customers of the Chanhassen-headquartered company get to use the clubs’ ample facilities, take classes like zumba and hot yoga, chill in the health spa, and pick up a fluffy white towel and a superfruit smoothie before they shower off and head to work.

And Life Time’s employees? Their rewards are a little less cushy. If they’ve been there a year, they get five vacation days. After two to three years, they get eight. The maximum they can get is 20, after a working period “longer than 10 years.”

Life Time spokesperson Natalie Bushaw says their vacation policy is “typical” compared to “most companies.” For a “healthy way of life company,” vacation is a “very important part” of employees’ compensation. On top of that, she says, employees get to use their clubs for free.

But in the thousands of Life Time’s reviews on Glassdoor.com, the most common complaints are “long hours” and difficulty taking time off. Anyone who has had to choose between going to the gym and getting a good night’s sleep for the first time in weeks can tell you that free gym time is not the same as a vacation.

There are plenty of packages like Life Time’s out there. The average American takes about 15 days of vacation a year, which doesn’t come close to the minimum required by law in the 19 richest countries on the planet. France, Spain, and Germany offer more than 30 days off a year to their workers if you count public holidays.

But that tide is starting to turn. Last year, the average American took about 17.2 days off, the highest that figure has been since 2010. Paid time off is increasingly becoming the benefit of choice for jobseekers. A study by HR company Randstad found that 63 percent of employees wouldn’t consider a job opportunity that offered fewer than 15 vacation days.

That’s especially true of younger employees. Millennials are almost twice as likely as Baby Boomers to have a spouse or partner working at least full-time, which means work and life are harder to balance. Because there’s a shortage of qualified workers out on the market, workers have a bit more leverage over companies with regard to how much time off they get.

Most companies are responding to the shift in the market by offering competitive offtime, whether it’s vacation or family leave. General Mills, another Minnesota-based company, just announced it would increase its paid maternity leave from six weeks to about 18. New fathers’ time off will jump from two weeks to 12.

As a “healthy way of life” company, Life Time is falling behind the curve. More and more workers see a healthy life as one where they have time to themselves and their families. No amount of free towels can replace that.