From yoga to Fitbits, here are 5 Austin companies' wellness initiatives

by Tessa McLean
March 17, 2016

If you're looking to attract the best tech talent out there, it's important to keep your employees healthy and happy. These leading Austin tech companies offer their employees everything from healthy snacks to yoga classes, employee Fitbits, massages and company bicycles.


The OwnLocal platform generates new revenue for media companies and small businesses by creating a host of various digital marketing campaigns.
Wellness Initiatives: OwnLocal employees receive a company-sponsored Fitbit after 90 days of employment. They're also eligible for a discounted membership rate from Gold's Gym. In addition to Fitbit challenges and workout groups, OwnLocal sponsors employees' participation in the Cap 10k. We also offer daily catered lunches to our entire staff to help put healthy choices at their fingertips. 
What kind of impact are you seeing from these initiatives? OwnLocal employees are given the freedom to do their work on the schedule that works best for them and their teams. That means we'll see people take a break in the middle of the day for a yoga class or organize a group run in the late afternoon. This level of flexibility to schedule fitness means they do the hardest part: they actually go to the gym. 
Why they do it: It's worth it. Healthier employees are happier employees. Supporting the staff with the resources they need to be healthier reinforces the message that OwnLocal wants the best for them and from them. — Margaret Spear, Chief of Staff
Civitas partners with higher education leaders to bring together the best of new leading-edge technology, design thinking and data science on a mission to help a million more students each year learn well and finish strong.
Wellness initiatives: Civitas Learning pays for gym membership to our building's in-house gym. We have a bookable Wellness Room with a massage table set up for relaxation along with a comfy chair for breast-feeding mothers to use. We offer $200 per month if you choose to give up your parking spot and walk or ride your bike to work. There are some groups that have started their own FitBit steps competitions. We also pay for a volleyball team that is company sponsored. We have an array of healthy snacks, fresh fruit and healthy options within our free Wednesday catered lunches and Friday morning breakfasts. We have a great insurance package that comes with a teledoc service that helps employees get well faster without the long doctor office visits. Twice a year we have Wellness Week, where each day represents a different avenue to health and wellness. Lunch and learns from doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists and fitness trainers all offer information on nutrition, fitness, desk posture, etc. Wellness Week is very popular.
What kind of impact are you seeing from these initiatives? "Over the past year we've seen more requests for healthy food options, more lunch-n-learns regarding health and wellness and we see lots of people walking or riding their bikes to work. More and more people take advantage of the free gym use in the building or take their one-on-one meetings to the streets to walk around downtown on a lovely day."
Why they do it: It's just part of caring for your employees. We see everyone as a human first, not just a machine. We want our employees to be happy, healthy and balanced. That's the only way we can further our mission for student success as a whole. — Emily Washburn, Employee Experience Specialist


Eureka Software provides custom software services for enterprise software, mobile app- iOS / Android, SaaS, Cloud Apps, APIs and Technical Strategy.
Why they do it: We work hard, but we have hobbies and passions outside of work. In fact, Eureka encourages it. We’re photographers, artists, tee ball coaches, fantasy football enthusiasts, and more. Need a longer lunch to run an errand or go to a checkup? Need to leave early to see your kid’s orchestra recital? We’re fine with that as long as you get your work done, too.
Wellness Initiatives: [Eureka] shares fitness "wins" in our quarterly company meeting. We have a few fitness enthusiasts and we are currently holding each other accountable for those with healthy eating resolutions this year. To help with these "healthy" resolutions, we have started providing healthy snacks from Naturebox. We are proud of our Zumba dancers, Bicycle riders, and boxers. We even have our very own kickboxing instructor who teaches kickboxing 3 evenings a week. — Candice Talley, Senior Digital Marketing Manager,
CognitiveScale builds machine intelligence industry specific software that help businesses enrich their customer and employee engagement.
Wellness Initiatives: We offer in-house yoga and meditation every week. The initiative was launched by a group of yogis and meditators among our ranks who wanted to share the way consistent practice had brought them to a more balanced life. They cleared a space in our break area and brought in yoga blocks and mats, candles and blankets, and formed our little office yoga oasis—the perfect place for contemplation in a hectic day.
What kind of impact are you seeing from these initiatives? We spend most of our day hunched over our devices—from typing at our keyboards and texting on our phones, to driving through Austin traffic — and it’s truly amazing what 30 minutes away from the norm can do to counter the stress building in your body. However, the greatest impact has been in bringing people from different departments together. Let's be honest, it can be a little awkward wearing yoga pants in front of co-workers, or taking yourself seriously while you close your eyes and listen to a Spotify compilation of birds chirping by the ocean right before your 3 p.m. budget review. But after a few sessions, these weekly practices have evolved into a valuable time to move, stretch, and contemplate, and most of all laugh together.
Why they do it: It’s no secret that startup life can be equally as stressful as it is fulfilling. Slammed with meetings and deadlines, it can seem impossible to get away from your desk. But just having a designated time on your work calendar every week to focus on your health is exceptionally motivating. Sometimes you have to step away from the craziness to truly harness your potential, there’s no substitute for this personal growth. — Nikita Namjoshi, Demand Generation Specialist
Banker’s Toolbox is an industry leader in the fight against financial crime. Through innovative software and services, they help financial institutions manage their anti-money laundering and fraud prevention. 
Wellness Initiatives: "With snacks, happy hours and free lunch catered to the office every day, wellness is an important part of our work-life balance. Some Banker’s Toolbox employees have joined FitRankings, where they track their daily activity online. Others team up to do a lunchtime walk in our North Austin neighborhood. The same group even has a few 5K races on the calendar for the spring. Plus, all employees have 24-hour access to a free fitness center on-site.
In February, Banker’s Toolbox launched its third annual Biggest Loser Challenge. Nearly half the company has decided to participate. The contest runs for 16 weeks, and the competition is still going strong. Weekly leaderboard updates inspire a friendly sense of competition leading up to a weigh-in. To test his colleagues’ willpower, Chief Product Officer John Meyer jokingly placed two dozen donuts right next to the scale on the day of a weigh-in.
Why they do it: The leadership team at Banker’s Toolbox recognizes that health and happiness go hand in hand. Plus, they are confident that happy employees get results. According to Chief Relationship Officer Bob Kim, employee happiness has helped Banker’s Toolbox achieve high organic annual growth levels for the past 15 years, low employee turnover and one of the highest levels of client satisfaction in the banking industry. In that way, much like The Biggest Loser competition, everybody wins! — Emily Gasper, Marketing Content Specialist
Images via listed companies. 
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