Office wellness: What these companies offer to ensure a happy, healthy workplace

October 19, 2017

A fictional Harvard Law student once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” This, of course, is a line from Elle Woods, the protagonist of the 2001 hit film “Legally Blonde.” She goes on to defend her client who is charged with murder by reasoning that happy people don’t kill — “they just don’t.”

There’s probably some truth to that.

Researchers agree that a similar theory also applies to the workplace. Happy people work better and are more engaged. With that in mind, we checked in with four Austin tech companies and asked about the physical and mental health programs they offer to promote employee well-being and happiness.


wp engine

wp engine 2
Photos provided by WP Engine

Michael Newman, program manager of employee experience at WP Engine, said the company's health initiatives are ever expanding. While the company offers a number of options, many of its employees have also teamed up to bring in even more.


What types of mental and physical health options does your company offer in and outside of the office?

In order to be the best that you can be it’s important to take the time to focus on what your body needs. The reality is that both physically and mentally healthy employees are more productive, so it pays to invest in the teams, not just the product. At WP Engine we believe this and have a variety of options available to help our employees focus on their physical and mental well-being. 

We offer discounted gym memberships, group training classes, mental health coverage, onsite health checkups and the occasional yoga class as benefits to our employees. 


Do employees participate in any recreational leagues, running groups, cycling/hiking clubs together? 

One of the great things about our company culture is seeing how individuals come together around the activities they love. In the past we have had teams participate in the MS150, stand up paddleboarding 21 miles to support Tyler’s DAM That Cancer, soccer, softball, the Zilker Relays and we’re looking forward to our team participating in the Austin Marathon early next year. 


How do these initiatives affect workplace culture?

A lot of the initiatives our teams take on are led by the WP Engine FUEL team. This is an organically formed team of individuals who came together to bring physical and mental health activities to WP Engine. The name stems from its role as adding “fuel” to the fire of our company culture by bringing team members together around athletic activities that are important to them. 



Photos provided by social media

Erin Shaw, athenahealth’s executive administration manager, filled us in on all of the extracurricular physical activities sponsored by the company. It’s a lengthy list, plus every employee enrolled in their insurance can get up to a $300 annual reimbursement on race and league registrations.


What types of mental and physical health options does your company offer in and outside of the office?

In addition to our comprehensive benefits program, we offer an in-house gym, bi-monthly chair massages, and our location in the Seaholm Power Plant provides easy access to Lady Bird Lake and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. Many of our employees like to run, walk or bike to work and take advantage of our private shower rooms and secure, indoor bike parking. We also have a two-person kayak that employees can sign out for paddling around the lake.


Do employees participate in any recreational leagues, running groups, cycling/hiking clubs together?

We have a company-sponsored kickball team, a soccer club, two running groups and a variety of social groups that get together for activities like rock climbing, caving and cycling.

We also support employee-led activities such as guided meditation and multi-week fitness challenges. Employees enrolled in our insurance can request reimbursement for up to $300 a year for wellness-related activities including gym memberships, fitness classes, league registration and race registration.


How do these initiatives affect workplace culture?

Participation in any of our office-related activities is open to all employees and allows teams and individuals that might not normally interact to spend time together. We encourage employees with an interest in a given activity (wellness related or not) to create groups and clubs related to their interests and invite others to join. Some of our group activities include a ping-pong club, a wine club, a board gaming club and an employee rock band.



Photos provided by HotSchedules

Every year, HotSchedules hosts a company-wide fitness competition called HotFit. DeeDee Breaux, senior technical recruiter, told us what activities take place during HotFit and how else the company promotes a healthy lifestyle.


What types of mental and physical health options does your company offer in and outside of the office?  

For mental health, we have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) where you and your family can call a 24-hour toll free hotline to talk with a mental health professional seven days a week. After talking with them, the hotline can refer you to a face-to-face counselor, and we pay for three visits.   

We also have an annual health screening that brings nurses onsite to measure vitals like blood pressure, weight, BMI and do a full blood screening panel.


Do employees participate in any recreational leagues, running groups, cycling/hiking clubs together?    

We have a group of folks that run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:30 a.m., and we have Camp Gladiator that happens Monday and Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. on the rooftop of our garage.   

We also have what we call HotFit, which happens in March every year, where we break the entire company into groups of eight to 10 and host a fitness competition. The activities include running up the hill behind our office three times, a two-mile run, dodgeball, hula hoop competitions and video games (for the mental part of fitness). We have prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place teams, but the best prize is being the reigning champs.


What new activities are being planned?    

We are building an onsite gym that is currently under construction, but it will include free weights, treadmills, rowing machines, a yoga room and several other amenities.  We do have showers on our first floor for after your workouts.  



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Photos provided by All Web Leads

When employees get so caught up in work that they stop dedicating time to exercise or eating healthy, that’s when companies can really step it up with on-site programming. Amy Hargrove, recruiter at All Web Leads, said it’s easy (and fun) to host on-going health and exercise initiatives right at the office.


What types of mental and physical health options does your company offer in and outside of the office?

Our full-time salary roles are eligible for a fitness reimbursement annually. We also host Monthly Fit Friday, which is led by a team lead from our sales department who is a certified nutritionist and CrossFit coach.

In April, to support National Public Health Week, we provided educational talks, cooking classes, workouts and healthy food all week long to our employees. Additionally, through our Employee Assistance Program with ADP, employees have access to therapists as well as nutritional information.


Do employees participate in any recreational leagues, running groups, cycling/hiking clubs together?

The office does not sponsor a company-wide team. However, we have had employees team up for bocce ball, bowling and softball leagues.


What new activities are being planned?

The activities above will continue, but it’s hard to plan something new in Q4 with all the holidays. However, that gives us plenty of time to get creative with 2018.


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