We weren’t kidding about that whole #FoolsWalk131 challenge!
Do you ever wonder how many push-ups you could achieve at any given moment? Get down and give us 20! In all seriousness, take a few minutes to count the number you’re able to reach. Is it 5? 10? 142? Now – if you’re not too tired – think about how many push-ups your entire company could collaboratively log. We actually answered this question for ourselves during June’s Fool-wide Push-Up Wellness Challenge.
This competition definitely showed off more than muscle. At the start of June, Wellness Coordinator Sam Whiteside challenged Fools to sign up for push-up brackets of 500; 1,000; 3,000; 5,000; and 10,000. All Foolish health challenges are optional, with the goal being for each Fool to attain their personal goal in 30 days. Over 80 Fools signed up for June’s contest, pausing daily to push-up during meetings, stand-ups, and (naturally) Sam’s wellness classes.
To help Sam reach her own participation goal for this competition, People Team Fools cooked up a surprise plan. On June 30, we launched Push-Up to Pamper Sam, a one-day challenge that unlocked prizes for Sam at set tiers. The categories kicked off with a tiny solar plant and breakfast delivery, soon escalating to gift cards at Port City Brewery, Sugar House Day Spa & Salon, and Zweet Sport. The amounts gave room for Sam to bring along other Fools, too.
Throughout the day, Fools everywhere pushed – literally and figuratively – to unlock the tough tiers. Progress was monitored with a spreadsheet while Fools sent regular updates on a Slack channel. As the day rolled along, a total of 189 Fools participated – and the challenge didn’t stop once office lights dimmed. Fools were active online even after midnight, all encouraging one another to do more for the team.
We finished with an impressive count of 31,043 push-ups in one day. Fools surpassed all seven tiers in the 7a-11:59p Push Up to Pamper Sam challenge, contributing to a final count of 170,198 Fool push-ups in June. Do your arms hurt yet?
June 30 didn’t turn out to be a typical Foolish Tuesday. On the final day of our June wellness challenge, Fools all over the world seriously rallied. Such support symbolized how well Fools can come together to make major things happen for the love of our company or, in this case, a fellow Fool. We’re adding this record to the books!
While financial health is the base of our business, Fools need strong minds too. As full-time Wellness Director Sam Whiteside revolutionizes Foolish health, her initiatives are quickly becoming ingrained in our culture. During Sam’s time as a Fool, she’s added additional workout classes (yoga, kettlebells, and cycling – oh my!); started a monthly newsletter; created company-wide challenges; and offered multiple private consults to Fools striving for better health. However, these examples barely cover the surface of Sam’s impact on our organization. Her goal is to reach 100% wellness participation across the company and, in just under 2 years, we’ve already hit 89%.
We’re thrilled that Sam was able to represent Foolish wellness in our recent Washington Post feature, which announced their picks for 2015’s Best Places to Work.
In a world where work is nearly 24/7, wellness is even more important to employees’ happiness. And while it could be intimidating, don’t feel nervous about encouraging health initiatives at your organization. Sam advises, “The trick is to get to know your people first, get their trust. And then they’ll pretty much let you run them into the ground if you want to.”
To see what other companies made The Washington Post’s list, click right here.
Depending on a company’s approach, the definition of corporate wellness can stretch over a pretty broad spectrum. In addition to offering free 1:1 personal training, subsidized in-house massages, and a variety of fitness classes, Head Wellness Fool Sam Whiteside thinks outside of the box. We couldn’t agree more that our “health and fitness perks are off the charts” and feel excited to appear on Mashable’s list of companies with “amazingly unique wellness programs.”
Ranking #4 on a list surrounded by companies like Google, Fitbit, and Zappos, The Motley Fool was recognized for our fun fitness challenges, monthly health newsletter, and frequent involvement in area marathons and races. Sam Whiteside also shared that the Fool’s wellness engagement is nearly 86%.
See Mashable’s full feature on Foolish Fitness here!
Is it lunchtime yet? Maybe the better question would be to ask if you even take a lunch break at all. Research reports that in North America, only one in five employees put time aside for meals, with nearly 40% of this population claiming to eat at their desks. We’re all busy, but let’s at least take a few to discuss why lunch breaks are worth it.
Experts claim that standing up for a quick food break can “increase your energy levels, stabilize your blood sugar, and enhance delivery of nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins and fiber that help your systems run smoothly.” Pretty important benefits, no? Stopping your work flow to eat lunch isn’t rocket science, but it can be difficult to put a project on hold. If you need more convincing on the matter, desk lunches also increase the potential for mindless eating, defined as “enjoying food less, eating beyond full, and generally not feeling satisfied by it which often leads to snacking on non-nutritious foods later in the day.” I doubt that anyone wants to feel poorly when, in this situation, making a schedule change can be so easy.
If eating lunch at your desk is part of your company’s culture, it’s time for a change. You’re entitled to enjoy a midday break! Add a reminder to your calendar and find a lunch buddy. The lunch rush can be a great opportunity to meet other coworkers. Our café is always buzzing in the afternoons, acting as a communal space to not only eat but communicate. We also host a monthly pizza day where Fools can unwind and enjoy a slice or two, as well as weekly afternoon express fitness classes to get Fools up and moving.
Don’t worry, your work will always be waiting for you to return. Whether you leave the office or not, I bet you’ll notice a difference in how much better it feels to get away from your desk. Taking leave for lunch will provide a burst of energy so that you can bring your A game back to your desk for the afternoon.
Over the past few years, the drive to improve Fools’ overall health has become a top priority. In fact, I’d argue that “Health” could rightfully be added to our list of core values. The benefits behind employees’ positive mental and physical well-being are endless, not just in the office but outside, too. We’ve been fortunate enough to employ a full-time “Wellness Fool” since 2010. These folks have inspired even the unhealthiest of our employees to make smarter, better choices, with several success stories to prove their impact.
One of our most-popular fitness-related benefits is our annual health fair…and it’s quickly approaching again. Health fairs have been described as effective ways “to provide valuable health information and screening services to large numbers of employees in a convenient ‘one-stop shop’ format.” This year, Wellness Fool Sam Whiteside hopes to take our wellness fair to a new level, incorporating not only flu shots and biometrics, but also massage therapy; athletic shoe fittings and running analyses; discounted gym memberships; healthy food samples; acupuncture; fitness demonstrations; and a blood donation van.
Though everything at our wellness fair will be optional, participation is always highly encouraged. It was reported in 2013 that only 43% of American organizations hold health fairs and 50% offer screenings. These statistics should be much higher, but it’s never too late to invest in your employees’ health. Whether you want a downsized wellness fair or a huge function, aim to begin the planning process at least four months in advance. These events usually happen during the fall when flu season begins to creep into the picture. Take the first step by talking to your Human Resources manager, and your organization’s health insurance providers, to locate vendor options. And if you choose to offer them, it’s necessary to reach out to the appropriate professionals while flu shots are still available. At a glance, 61% of companies in the US offer on-site flu shots.
Employer-sponsored health days can be life-changing. Just last year, Amy Robach of ABC News agreed to have the first ever live television mammogram for Good Morning America. Robach had delayed her annual mammogram for more than a year and, a week after the live event, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Even her doctors admitted that the mammogram had saved her life.
If your company doesn’t put employee health on a pedestal, maybe they should. It’s definitely worth the research. A healthy employee is a happier one, and who knows – an event like a health fair could possibly even change a life.
The Motley Fool isn’t the only company that has built a fantastic culture, but sadly there aren’t enough of us. Countless studies show that employees are lacking engaging and healthy work environments. An interesting New York Times piece, Why You Hate Work, digs deeper into these disadvantages, mentioning faults that stem from the rise in digital technology, increased competitiveness, and our post-recession economy.
Author Tony Schwartz argues simple solutions that, if introduced, could make a huge difference in corporate environments. His suggestions ring true during a time when workplaces actually have the opportunity to evolve. It’s not necessarily a world of suits, ties, and strict regulations anymore.
In Schwartz’s opinion, companies should measure employees not hourly but by the value that they create. He explains, “To the extent possible, let them decide where to do their work, and when to do it, as long as they meet deadlines.” Trust is a huge component, and The Fool’s flexible scheduling speaks to Schwartz’s point. We throw traditional 9-5 calendars to the wind by allowing our employees to manage their own time. With this flexibility comes the expectation that employees are striving to produce their highest quality of work. Because everyone has different work styles, we also offer quiet spaces that offer a break from our open office, as well as the tools to work from home.
We believe in transparency, a point that Schwartz addresses in his column. He notes, “…seek to define all jobs in ways that feel meaningful and significant to people.” Fools are encouraged to establish honest relationships with their managers, making it easy to communicate about goals, projects, and ideas. If a Fool isn’t happy, our People Team wants to help. We organize feedback sessions to connect with Fools about their job path and progress, and recently implemented an internal reward service that allows Fools to publicly recognize others with “gold” for a job well done. Gold can be spent on gift cards for a variety of stores, and the entire process makes receiving Fools feel happy and valued.
However, it’s an unfortunate fact that all workplaces can’t — or will not try — to implement a progressive culture for employees. In addition to cynicism and anger, decreased energy is a common symptom of workplace unhappiness. To combat these signs, Schwartz suggests using 15-25 minutes for rest or an outdoor walk to increase productivity and alertness. The warmer weather has inspired a Fool Walking Group, which takes 30-minute outdoor strolls twice a week. We also have the Reading Room, a quiet space for better concentration that doubles as a place to take a power nap. Our culture encourages Fools to be comfortable enough to always take the necessary time for rest.
Schwartz’s article is one of many that shows how corporate cultures are changing. The Fool is on top of preserving Foolishness, from showing appreciation to our employees to trying out new, fun ideas in the office. Hating your job is the last thing The Fool would ever want, and we’re constantly on the search for ways to top the happiness scale.