Why Investing in Health and Wellness is the best way to create a Great Company Culture
By: Chris Flakus
You can usually tell what day it is at our office by the noises you hear around noon on the bottom floor of our headquarters in Jacksonville. Some days it is the thumping base that accompanies our high intensity noon workout in our gym. Other days, it’s the relaxing yoga music with the CSI ‘Yoggies’ on the side lawn. And sometimes it is the loud conversation of a group of runners getting ready for a tempo run workout with our running coach in the parking lot. Whatever sound it is, it’s music to my ears.
At CSI, exercise has always been a big part of our company culture. Early on, we adopted a motto of ‘Work Hard. Play Hard”. We were not the first and only company to use that mantra but at CSI, we certainly felt like we represented it fully. As we grew from a small local staffing company to a global recruiting and consulting firm, we have doubled down on our use of exercise as a way to continue to build our culture at CSI.
As a result, our employee turnover is at an all time low, production is up and we are annually recognized as a ‘Best Place to Work’.
There is no reason other companies can’t do the same. But it is more than just throwing a few weight benches in a spare office. Here are a few tips to develop a health program at your company that isn’t just a company perk, but can be a program that can grow or even transform your company culture:
- Provide variety and consistency – In our early days, we were one-dimensional. Weight benches and barbells for equipment combined with routine chest and back on Mondays, legs on Tuesday, etc. We got bored quick. Today, we take great pride in providing plenty of options for everyone before, during and after work, 5 days a week. We have a certified fitness instructor on staff designing group and individual circuit workouts Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, employees can choose between Yoga or a scheduled team run with our very own running coach in the streets around the office or a high intensity track workout a few miles away.
This is a substantial financial and time commitment we make for our employees. Even when sales are down or we have large time-sensitive projects, we are consistent in providing these outlets for our employees. We give our employees the autonomy to decide if they have the time to devote to exercise. For many, the higher the job pressure, the higher the need for that necessary outlet that exercise provides. An hour break mid-day can provide hours of greater productivity later.
- Leaders need to be involved – True leaders always lead from the front. That doesn’t necessarily mean your CEO should win the next 5K, but the value in having key managers alongside employees grinding out that last set develops valuable chemistry that is hard to replicate with any other group function. In addition, employees who would normally not exercise often decide to participate when a manager or senior company representative is involved.
- Embrace all victories equally – For every marathon runner and pull-up master, there is an employee that has not exercised in years or can’t run a mile. One of our employees has never run more than a mile in her life and in the span of 3 months, she lost 20 pounds and crushed her first 5k. At the same time, our Controller completed his first Ironman triathlon. Both incredible accomplishments that were equally embraced internally.
- Combine your efforts with HR – If I didn’t convince you yet that a good health program at your company can help you build sales and establish a great company culture, there are more benefits. Our healthcare costs as a company have decreased considerably in the last decade, with our fitness program and other health and wellness initiatives being a main reason.
- Give it your all, then Give it Back – It’s a great feeling to see dozens of employees complete a 5K but it’s another to know that this culmination of training not only lead to personal goal fulfillment and pride, but also achieves our aggressive goals for giving back to our community. For example, we are annually the top team in the American Lung Association’s Lung Force Run. So, in addition to besting personal goals and celebrating with co-workers, we can take pride also knowing that thousands of dollars were raised for charity.
Our program at CSI took years of cultivating. And we are still tweaking every year to keep it fresh. If your program is non-existent or needs a kickstart, poll your key employees to get their input and make a commitment. The positive results will provide the type of ROI that is hard to find in business these days.