How to Create Engaging Workplace Culture, Beyond the Perks [Part 1 of 3]

Over the last few weeks I visited Next Jump, Digital Ocean, Wayfair and HubSpot headquarters. Each organization has a unique flavor to how they approach and invest in their people, but I also noticed some trends. This is three part series to serve as Your Guide to Culture Beyond the Perks. I will share with you ways to invest in how you care for your people and the success of your business. We all know from personal experience that when we love where we work, we are willing to give and do more. But now we have that data that proves that investing in your company culture is a valuable investment.

Recently, at the Glassdoor Summit, CEO Robert Hohman presented the data that

Companies on the Glassdoor “Best Place to Work List” outperformed the S&P 500 by 115%.

“It’s not a secret that there’s a link between employee satisfaction and a company’s financial performance… We have the data and you can quantify it now… We have causal data that proves it. So, the right thing to do is invest in company culture. It will make your company better and ultimately it will serve your customers better, too.” — Robert Hohman.

How to Invest in your Culture, Beyond the Perks

Taking care of your employees is not just about free lunches and happy hours. Research shows (although who really needed research to tell us this…) that when we take care of our physical health, we are more productive, happy and effective in everything we do. That’s why these organizations are investing in fitness, health and sleep.

Fit bodies, fit minds.

Next Jump is a company dedicated to changing workplace cultures, and also offering a service of perks and employee discounts for their customers. Even though they are located in midtown Manhattan, they have dedicated several rooms in their high rise Manhattan building for fitness, including a yoga studio, pilates reformer studio, spin cycle studio and full gym. They have future hopes to add a rooftop pool and garden as well. Supporting the full wellbeing of the individual is central to their culture.

Signs posted in the bathroom:

When a new employee joins Next Jump, they are immediately put on a fitness team. 100% of all the organization is on a fitness team, with reasonable goals. A fitness team earns points if everyone gets 20 minutes of exercise at least 3 times a week. Nothing insane, just a regular and minimal amount of activity to keep you healthy.

Photo: Next Jump pilates studio with Manhattan views.

Hubspot, an inbound marketing and sales platform located in downtown Cambridge, MA also has an onsite employee gym. There are fitness instructors and fitness classes all throughout the workday. Hubspot also has flexible work from home policy, so you can come in when you want and there’s no strict schedules. This is becoming more common and I’ve seen companies with this policy have empty-offices. But Hubspot was buzzing and full of people. It seemed that their people wanted to be at the office.

Wayfair, an online homegoods shopping site, has a system of activity groups, anything from a reading club to a Cricket team. Some of the most popular are the baseball and basketball teams where work colleagues can come out to play sports together.

Wayfair has a policy that anyone can start an activity club and any initiative will get a 50% financial support from the company. This greatly reduces the cost for employees, much less than if they were going to pay for it in a private club.

The Miracle of Sleep

Another theme I saw at these companies was an investment in sleep. Arianna Huffington would be happy to see this! Hubspot had a dedicated napping room. I don’t have a picture because the room was in use, but I found this picture online (credit:

Hubspot sleep room:

In the yoga studio at Next jump there is an afternoon ‘sleep class’ to encourage a 30 minute resting period, or siesta time, at the post-lunch energy crash time around 2:30pm. Research proves that this is en excellent way to recharge your energy and avoid the need for an afternoon coffee.

You might be thinking: “We don’t have the budget for installing a pilates studio and sleep room” Or, “I’m not in charge of these initiatives.” I believe that everyone can do something to help contribute to a healthy and positive company culture.

3 ways you can help your company culture invest in health, fitness and sleep:

1. Reminders & Signs of Inspiration:

Scattered around the Next Jump are reminders to stretch, or other ideas for keeping healthy. In the bathroom a message on the back of the stall door to remind you not to go too long without eating, and the importance of nutrition. In front of the elevator (where you might be waiting for a few moments) a few ideas for stand-up stretches you can do.Cost: $5 in printing and tape

2. Repurpose your space

You don’t need a dedicated ‘sleep room’ to encourage self-care for your office. Turn a conference room into a nap room after lunch. Close the blinds and purchase some sleep masks, encourage employees to bring their pillow to work.

Cost: $30 for a few sleep masks

3. Fitness teams & Accountability Partners

Setup Fitness teams and track your workouts. Create a map of recommended walking routes around the office. You could even turn the walks into a scavenger hunt. Other no-cost activities like after work walking or running group. Email out to your office a request for fitness instructors, maybe someone in your team used to teach yoga and could offer a mid-morning stretch session. We all could use a reminder to get away from our computer for a minute or two.

Cost: $0

That’s a handful of ideas — but where do you begin?

Pick one of these ideas and run an experiment. (Here’s my guide on how to run mini-experiments).

Start with yourself! Make your experiment visible by posting an announcement in a company wiki or putting up a sign on your desk. *If you are a virtual-team, change your profile picture for internal messaging app to be one with you holding a sign stating your experiment of the week.

At the end of your experiment (should be about 1–2 weeks long) do a reflection (aka retrospective) of what worked well and what you learned. Try Scatterspoke, a digital retrospective tool (its free!).

Then, let me know how it went here or on twitter @humansideoftech and feel free to ask for support or ideas in the comments below.

Happy Healthy Worklife experimenting!

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