6 examples of extreme workplace wellness

By andrew scarcella
Culture

Wellness programs are a basic necessity of any halfway decent corporate culture. But what does it take to transform your company into a wellness wonderland? How about a little inspiration? Feast your eyes on these six companies who went well beyond ordinary wellness and created cultures that do far more than simply checking the box of employee wellbeing.

Black Diamond: The Dawn Patrol

In the early 90s, climbing and skiing equipment manufacturer Black Diamond was home to legendary mountaineer, Alex Lowe, a.k.a. “The Fiend”, a.k.a. “Lungs with Legs.” A glutton for punishment, Alex and his crew started the tradition of the “Dawn Patrol”—waking up insanely early so they could get in a backcountry ski tour and still be in the office by 9 AM. The tradition continues today as Black Diamond employees are encouraged to defy sanity and sleep by “dawn patrolling” before work.

Zappos: Recess Tuesdays

#86 on Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work, Zappos is no slouch in the wellness program department. But Zappos is trying something new: recess. Every Tuesday, their dedicated wellness coordinator puts playground equipment and toys out in their corporate plaza for anyone and everyone to use. Employees are encouraged to come out whenever they want to play around and generally have a ball. Or if they can juggle, three.

Wheeler Interests: Downstairs Gym

This little-known real estate investment firm, headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, approaches company-wide wellness a bit differently. Masterminded by their uber fit founder, Jon Wheeler, Wheeler Interests doesn’t just subsidize gym memberships for their employees, they built their office on top of a fitness club. No more excuses about not having time to hit the gym. And in typical investment firm fashion, they’re also a minority owner of the club.

Genentech: On-Site Farmers Market

While the giant, global biotechnology firm provides a ridiculous amount of health and wellness options to its nearly 15,000 employees, perhaps the most ridiculous is their weekly, on-site farmers market. Held in the parking lot, the private market hosts local farmers, bakers, and artisans to provide Genentech employees with fresh, seasonal ingredients to take home and cook for their families. And since they’re located in outside of San Francisco, it’s year round.

Odell Brewing: Bike Commuter’s Paradise

Known for their interesting and often inspired beers, Odell Brewing also famous for their commitment to commuting by bicycle. Visit their headquarters in Fort Collins, CO, and the first thing you’ll notice is the amount of bikes parked in the parking lot. For a company with only about 100 employees, it’s startling to see more bikes than cars. In addition to parking, Odell also offers free employee bikes, a bike maintenance station, and they host an bi-annual Bike from Work Bash.

Angie’s List: Garden Club

Intramural sports, YMCA discount, smoking cessation program, and an on-site fitness center, health clinic, and massage therapist? Is there anything Angie’s List doesn’t do to enhance its employees wellness? Nope, because in addition to all these amazing benefits, Angie’s List also has a campus garden where employees can grow their own vegetables and learn techniques to take home to their own home garden.

Of course, you don’t have to take such extreme measures to create amazing cultures of wellness in your organization. But we can all learn something from their commitment and inventiveness when it comes to employee wellbeing—it pays to try something new.

Categories: Culture, Wellness

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By andrew scarcella

Andrew Scarcella is a writer, but not the kind that writes screenplays in his spare time. Having worked for ad agencies and in-house creative departments for nearly ten years, he’s more the kind of writer you ask to come up with a campaign that makes bail bonds sound fun, and totally nails it.