Imagine going to you work and finding a farmers’ market in the kitchen, a yoga class in the conference room, and a fleet of treadmill desks where you can walk while you work. No, this isn’t the workplace of the future—it’s happening now right here in Philly, as more and more local companies offer creative wellness benefits to keep employees healthy and happy.
It pays off: A study found that health-promotion programs—everything from gym membership discounts to weight-loss counseling—result in a 25 percent reduction in sick leave and insurance and disability costs; they also increase employee retention and productivity. And with the recent deluge of research about the dangers of prolonged sitting, many office workers are eager to participate.
Sonja Claxton, a project assistant at the Wayne-based health-research company Bracket, helped her office start a biweekly farmers’ market through the Delaware Valley Farm Share. The program doesn’t cost Bracket a dime: Employees pay about $25 per delivery and get a bag of fresh produce and a dozen cage-free eggs; the company simply provides the space. About a quarter of Bracket employees participate.
“Our halls are buzzing when Farm Share comes in,” says Claxton. “People love the convenience.”
That’s key—the most successful programs are ones that are easy for employees to join. Dan Calista, owner of Center City consulting firm Vynamic, encourages his staff to use the office’s two treadmill desks whenever they can—during calls with clients, while they’re writing proposals. Vynamic also provides free healthy snacks and drinks, and facilitates monthly off-site team-building activities, often fitness-related.
Drexel University’s Victor Tringali, who runs the school’s A Healthier U program, says management participation is important, too: “You need a leader who buys into this and is willing to provide an environment that inspires healthy behavior.” At Drexel, that means space, time and resources for things like sports leagues, meditation groups and a campus-wide Employee Olympics—not to mention access to the shiny new recreation center.
“All the feedback we’ve gotten is positive,” says Tringali. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a program that’s giving the benefit of good health?”
I Tried It: Treadmill Desk