Wellness in the workplace

Promoting health and wellness within your business retains employees, boosts morale and more

Workplace wellness is something that should be celebrated and encouraged as often as possible, especially in this day and age where many jobs involve sitting for long periods of time, not getting those much-needed breaks in and sometimes scarfing down three slices of day-old pizza because it’s what’s in the fridge.

Companies all over Clark County continue to make significant strides in promoting workplace wellness with their employees and continue to take employee health very seriously. In the past, the Vancouver Business Journal has recognized these companies with awards, but we have decided to change it up a bit. In this issue, our focus is ‘wellness in the workplace,’ and we have decided to profile a few of businesses that exemplify this. We will continue to profile other companies and their commitment to wellness in the workplace in future issues of the VBJ. Enjoy!

Barre3 Felida
VBJ File

Barre3 Felida: Creating a ‘culture of good health’

Felida studio raises the ‘barre’ for workplace wellness

Heading into its fifth year, Barre3 Felida appears to be the definition of a healthy company. The fitness studio’s core values themselves include: “Create a culture of good health.”

The health benefits of being an instructor with the company are extensive. Besides the obvious responsibility of leading hour-long classes day after day in the signature barre3 style workout, which is a core-challenging combination of ballet, yoga and Pilates, healthy perks for instructors include an unlimited membership at the studio, along with their life partners, and free access to barre3 online workouts. In addition, instructors receive a free childcare package, if they have kids who need to come to work with them. Fun fact? Barre3 Felida has NO chairs that are used by any staff member. It may be debatable whether this is a perk, but it’s definitely a strong statement about the company’s commitment to health and fitness.

“At barre3 we teach people to be balanced in the body and empowered from within. We measure staff energy and retention as outcomes of our staff wellness program,” said franchise owner Amy Grabenkort in a statement. “Every single staff member has taken advantage of free classes. Our small team has collectively taken 1,556 barre3 classes at the studio this year ALONE. And people only leave our team when they move away, so we see exceptional retention as an indicator that people feel great working here.”

Extending beyond the workday, the company also offers a limited amount of pay for instructors who volunteer in the community in their off time. In addition, the team has access to free nutrition workshops each month lead by a local nutrition expert. The focus of these workshops is never on weight loss but rather on managing what the company calls the “pillars of wellness,” which include “the power of community” – manifested in the full daily roster of group classes – along with encouragements to self-reflect and regulate, to be adaptive and independent while relying on others for support as needed.

Grabenkort’s support of her staff’s wellness extends far beyond an exercise routine.

“Part of working here includes training on Owning your Voice and using it to stand in your power and empower others. Also included in training are things like meditations on relationships, workshops on The Four Agreements to create the expectation and execution of honest conversations, stepping in to help a teammate when needed, training on the use of body language and eye contact to stand in your power and empower others,” said Grabenkort. “I pay to send my instructor team to a wonderful physical therapist for three private sessions each so they learn their body’s habits and are empowered to develop healthy movement patterns. I’ve brought in a nutritionist to help my team understand how to nourish their bodies to stay strong as fitness instructors, and to stay balanced hormonally, and I’ll be doing so again this winter.”

The mind-body-spirit trifecta is never far from Grabenkort’s vision.

“I gift them massages as needed, and they get to visit an infrared sauna as needed through a business partnership I’ve developed. Individually, the team is also lifted up as needed in mental health. One of my employees needed mental health assistance recently and I paid to send her to two sessions with a therapist,” she said.

Barre3 Felida, and the barre3 franchise as a whole, is a women-centric organization, with this emphasis spelled out in a pillar of wellness: “While barre3 welcomes men, most of our franchisees and clients are women. We feel the importance of women supporting women more than ever in our society and we are stronger because of it.”

Grabenkort agrees completely: “I’d say overall, the most impactful contributor to workplace wellness here is the culture of women uplifting women.” – Jessica Swanson

VBJ File

NW Staffing Resources supports green living

Employee personal health goals are celebrated at year’s end

Nearing its 35th year, NW Staffing Resources has built a regional workforce development powerhouse with offices in six locations, including one in downtown Vancouver that includes a specialty office for food processing and manufacturing jobs. Clients include companies of all sizes within a wide range of industries.

NW Staffing was recently recognized for the second year by both its customers and employees to receive Inavero’s Best of Staffing award. Fewer than 2% of all staffing agencies in the U.S. and Canada are selected to receive this designation.

For NW Staffing, being a healthy company is a well-rounded endeavor that starts with competitive salaries and generous PTO, which means employees can maintain work-life balance, a significant contributor to worker wellness. Sustainability is also a high priority. The company composts, subsidizes public transportation costs and is working to become a fully paperless company.

The company also has a wellness program that consists of two initiatives. The first is an allowed expense reimbursement for entrance fees associated with any organized athletic event including but not limited to marathons/half marathons, triathlons, fun runs, walks, dragon boat racing and more. Also included are personal trainers, weight loss plans, smoking cessation or organized classes such as yoga, Pilates, etc. If an employee participates in an event that does not require an entrance fee but requires fundraising, NWS will donate to the cause.

The second initiative is for each employee to choose their own personal health and wellness goal each year. This year’s wellness outcomes are well documented and indeed celebrated. In addition, NW Staffing Resources has:

  • Seen one employee run their very first 5K and two employees run a 10K.
  • Taken their monthly meetings away from the office where the attendees all walk to the meeting site.
  • Brought in two sit-stand desks for trial.
  • Participated in an inaugural Harvest Festival to showcase healthy and fresh locally grown foods.

Health outcomes have been tallied through the year, and the “final outcome and acknowledgement will be at the holiday party, when those employees who have chosen their own personal health and wellness goal for this year are entered into a drawing for prizes,” according to NW Staffing Resources.

In general, NW Staffing Resources takes initiative when thinking about nutrition and weight management. On average, employees go through six water cooler bottles every month, and sometimes even run out before the next shipment. Company leaders are mindful of dietary needs, and healthy options like fruits and vegetables, and gluten-free items are available for meetings or celebrations. Recently, they participated in a branch-wide “Harvest Festival” where everyone who grew fruits and vegetables over the summer got together for a harvest meal to share healthy and nutritious food. The office also composts leftovers. – Jessica Swanson

Opsahl Dawson
VBJ File

Opsahl Dawson provides accountability, encouragement, fun for employees

As it’s not usually a physical business, the CPA firm has to ‘work at making accounting more physical’

Although physical fitness may not be the first thing you think of when an accounting business is mentioned, Opsahl Dawson is trying to change that – one “Biggest Loser Challenge” at a time.

Over the years, the Vancouver and Longview CPA firm has worked hard to evolve as a cutting edge CPA firm where staff can build a long-term career. The firm’s strategic plan is to utilize technology to operate in a paperless environment, so that they can offer the most flexible work schedule possible.

“Today’s generation wants to put family first and work second; we needed to be able to compete with that,” said Opsahl Dawson staff in a statement. “The problem is that if you cut away the bulky reams of paper, heavy bulging files, long walks back and forth from the file room, and triceps-working hole punchers … what do you have for physical activity at work? Well, we decided to think outside the box.”

The team at Opsahl Dawson has come up with several creative ways to stay fit and physical at work. The firm conducts an annual “Biggest Loser Challenge” and they report their weight loss each week and report back the percentage gain/loss results to the firm.

“This create some accountability, encouragement and fun,” staff said in a statement. “We also communicate our results of the Fitbit challenges as we all pay attention to the Fitbit app, and compare results and challenges.”

Being in the accounting business, tax season is a grueling time for CPAs, usually involving a work week filled with 60-plus hours of “mind-blowing concentration.” Because of this, from February through April 15, Opsahl Dawson operates Monday through Saturday and provides healthy Saturday lunches and snacks throughout the week to keep the energy levels up. During tax season, two shopping trips are made each week to make sure that the office is stocked with fresh fruit and nutrition/energy bars.

“We believe healthy snacking leads to stellar brain activity,” staff said.

The team at Opsahl Dawson has also tried to combat any sluggish behavior that might come from working in an office all day by providing every work station with motorized sit-stand desks and ergonomic standing pads. This offers posture repositioning and the ability to stand for part of the day to keep the blood flowing. All employees are also provided with a Fitbit that tracks their steps, and they have friendly weekly challenges and cheer for each other as they “step our way towards healthy lifestyles.”

As a result of all of this attention to health, the team at Opsahl Dawson has seen two great outcomes: more attention to health in general, and even more teambuilding. They said they have seen a lot of fun teambuilding come from their office health challenges, as it gives the employees something fun in common to talk about at work, rather than just talking about work. – Joanna Yorke