Nurturing Work-Life Balance

This is the sixth installment of a multi-part blog series by Hart Williford, CEO and president of Ingenious Med.

In any company, recognizing that employees have lives outside the office is critical. This can mean understanding when somebody needs time for a personal issue, or just encouraging them to spend time with their families. I personally think that companies can do much more for their employees than that, though. To truly nurture an explosively growing organization, you’ve got to be the company that people enjoy getting up and going to. You have to provide a place they’re proud of, proud to be a part of, from the results of their efforts to the culture of the place. That’s what we’re going to cover today. A particular aspect of company culture that we strive for and enjoy here at Ingenious Med.

Now, you’ll get all types in any organization, but I’ve found that high tech solutions companies in particular are made up of a lot of young, well educated, very motivated, bright people. And with that, comes a competitive spirit that needs attention, while still keeping the overall team feel together. Balancing those factors to create a sort of cultural momentum, while still nurturing a healthy lifestyle, can be as difficult as it is critical.

One of the programs we have launched to ensure that Ingenious Med is a quality place to work that addresses all of those areas is Thrive, a 100 day health and wellness program. We do it each year, and it always kicks off 100 days before our annual outing every July. We all use it as a way to get in shape for the party and it really energizes the company after the winter months. Now, right off, we’re addressing lifestyle as well as the big picture team approach: We’re all getting healthy together. But what about that sense of competition?

For the Thrive challenge, we give everyone in the company a Fitbit to track their progress and break into teams to make things interesting. The baseline has everybody encouraged to do 10,000 steps a day (about five miles). On average, the majority of employees achieve that goal. Some of your most competitive individuals will average 15 miles a day. We give out a trophy every year to those that hit that 10,000 step daily goal, inducting them into the Ingenious Med Million Step Club.

With the ball rolling on activity, we ramp up efforts on diet because wellness is nutrition, not just exercise. Year round, we work with a local organization that prepares healthy, fresh meals delivered to the office. To sweeten the deal, Ingenious Med subsidizes these healthy meals year round. As an organization that recognizes the value of education, we also use this time to bring in speakers to cover everything from training techniques to quality recipes. We also have an internal website where we post relevant articles as well as keep up the teams’ performance each week.

The teamwork this challenge builds every year is a great thing to behold, and it makes me proud to know just how it leads to a higher quality of life later on for our staff. We’ve had employees that have gotten off medications and lost significant amounts of weight. Many have learned over their first Thrive Challenge just how simple it can be to live a healthier, happier lifestyle. I have to admit, even beyond cultivating a good corporate culture, it’s a wonderful feeling knowing you can make a lasting impact on your employee’s lives.

While the Thrive program is a great 100 days, I want to make sure to point something out: We are very serious about health in general at Ingenious Med, and we understand it’s a year round commitment. We provide a kitchen stocked with fresh fruit and healthy snacks year round, we provide Vitamix blenders and swap smoothie recipes, and we always encourage people to take breaks and walk around throughout the day. We also subsidize access to a local gym, enthusiastically covering half the fees for any interested employees.

Staying in shape helps your quality of life today, but it seriously affects the quality of your life in those later years. I know from experience. I’ve led an active life, so while I may be the oldest individual in the company, for this 100 day period, I’m currently averaging over 15,000 steps a day. I may not be in the lead, but I’m always in the top ten. My feet hurt, but I end it a little better every year, because I’ve got my eye on my health down the line. Like many of our staff, I’m passionate about the outdoors; fly fishing, hiking, chasing grandkids, you name it, and I want to keep it up for a long time.

Of all the important things in a person’s life, family, friends, health, vocation, and faith, keeping all of that in balance is critical to a successful, long, happy life. At Ingenious Med, we’re very committed to it and proud to do our part. It’s a great way to attract top talent, but it’s also great knowing you can offer those intangibles that make those hours we spend at work something we wake up looking forward to.

Other parts in this series:

Strategic Imperatives: Repeatable Success
Strategic Imperatives: Theory and Action
The Value and Motivation of Customer Surveys
Proactivity and the Slow Bleed
Entrepreneur v. the Implementer