From early-morning athletes to after-hour gym rats, many Austinites lead a double life when it comes to their profession and passion. No matter what industry we work in, companies understand 401Ks and good dental coverage are not the only things that matter to employees. This is why five companies in Austin are raising the bar when it comes to employee perks around health, fitness, and wellness. These companies, from the next big tech company to the city’s transportation, provide professionals a place to exercise passion and embody well-being. In order for these companies to attract the best and provide an environment that inspires innovation, they must go above and beyond for their employees.
Kasasa challenges the financial industry with innovative branded retail banking products and marketing. They also challenge the standard status quo for benefits, best reflected in their company values of Love, Interdependence, 5-Star Leadership, and Badassitude, which are at the foundation of everything they do.
“We want everyone working at Kasasa to know that we love them. When you love someone, you work to figure out how to support them in the great things they are trying to accomplish,” said Nathan Baumeister, Chief Patch Officer.
A wellness group called What The Fit takes the lead to create an atmosphere of activism around health and fitness for every Spartan, the Kasasa employee moniker. In May, “Be Well, Work Well” month kicked off where speakers, corporate fitness events and employee engagement around health took center stage. Kasasa makes “healthy” easy with fresh produce delivery from Farmhouse Delivery and an on-site bootcamp coached by Of The Lion Fitness. They reimburse gym memberships when an employee exercises it at least 10 times a month. All of that activity is tracked in FitRankings, a platform for recognition of fit individuals, where unique challenges are created to engage with employees. That has led them to be Austin’s Fittest (medium-sized company) for the past two quarters.
“There is more to making an amazing company than just checking a few benefit boxes—it’s about inspiring your employees to go for their best. Whether it’s needing a flexible schedule, having reimbursement for facilities, or gaining encouragement from peers and leadership, the support I need is here,” said Theresa Tarantino, marketing project manager.
Keller Williams not only helps their agents build their real estate business but also build a healthy lifestyle. On April 15th at Zilker Park, the 3rd annual International Wellness Day kicked off. Ninety employees gathered to partake in challenging, fun field day activities. Each month, they host a wellness talk ranging from aromatherapy to how to deal with injury.
“We look at wellness holistically on how can we impact the entire person,” said Alex Garland, Wellness Manager. Alex leads free circuit training, yoga and pilates classes and offers nutrition counseling for all employees. A unique class she provides is chair yoga where employees don’t have to change clothes to squeeze in some movement during the day.
Their offerings don’t just stop with employees but also extend into the community. For the past eight years, Keller Williams has been the title sponsor for Run 4 The Water, a race that supports irrigation projects in Burundi. When asked what kind of exercise best describes the company, Alex said the vertical leap, because “it shows power and enthusiasm in an explosive movement upward, and that is what is happening at Keller Williams on all levels.”
Chances are, you have used Austin’s public transportation system to get around, but you may have never considered the challenges a predominantly sedentary workforce faces. With thousands of employees ranging from transportation operators to office workers, the Capital Metro Wellness Program was implemented to address key aspects of employee health. The outcome exceeded expectations to form a culture of well-being. Over the 13 years since implementation, healthcare costs at CapMetro have decreased by millions, and over 74 percent of their employees participate in one of the programs. The employee benefits encompass free fitness classes, bicycle checkout, access to four free fitness facilities (including personal trainers), and nutrition counseling.
“It becomes easier to make those healthy decisions when you have a supportive employer with so many different options you can take part in,” said Melissa Ayala, Communications Specialist.
CapMetro has been supportive of a self-formed group called the Breakfast Club that has lost more than a combined 250 pounds in the past five years through the benefits offered. “We were completely different characters that came to the gym together (like the Breakfast Club movie) to work out early in the morning,”said Ron Ledesma, an Application Systems Analyst.
CapMetro wellness benefits extend beyond their employees and into the community, especially since the facilities, stops, and stations went 100 percent Tobacco Free in 2013. Not only does CapMetro provide more healthy options in its cafeterias and a “healthy option” coupon, they also limit the availability of unhealthy items like sodas and junk food in vending machines.
Spiceworks created a community and a set of tools that revolutionized the IT economy; they are doing the same when it comes to employee perks. With a fully stocked kitchen and various on-site fitness activities, they have plenty of choices when it comes to employee health. The onsite boot camp, coached by Of The Lion Fitness, goes beyond building fitness and raising heart rates.
“At these boot camps, we also build camaraderie with people from all different departments, which helps build a strong company culture. We encourage and challenge our co-workers to always be better during our workouts, which we take back with us into the office,” said Kevin Jordan.
When employees aren’t hard at work, they are doing layups on the basketball court or warrior pose in the yoga studio.
Kimberly Griffin says their passion for health connects them to the community, where they can support local causes. “We have participated in the Paddleboard Jam to raise money for the Flatwater Foundation, partnered with Strength to Serve for Austin Sunshine Camp, and plenty of other races that we bond together to do for the community.”
That bond gets put to the test during the annual field day for employees, which is filled with competitive events like tug-o-war and relays for employees to harness their inner child.
If BazaarVoice was reviewed on their own platform for employee perks, they would without a doubt get a 5-star rating. The health initiatives at BazaarVoice are driven by employees, supported by leadership, and constantly evolving. In their new 137,000 square-foot, four-story building located in Quarry Oaks, they house a state-of-the art gym and a Whole Foods Market Café, where employees receive 30 percent off.
“It ties to our values of coming together and teamwork. You get healthy food, people collaborating together, and you give them places to exercise, and you just get better employees,” said Kathy Smith-Willman, Senior Director of People and Talent.
Employees feel empowered to take initiative within the company, whether that is to create a team for a local race or start a yoga class on-site. At one point, employees voted to take away candy in the breakroom.
BazaarVoice utilizes an employee-to-employee recognition and reward tool called You Earned It (YEI) to advocate fitness. Over 70 percent of company workers participated in b:well, the health and fitness component of YEI, and of that group, over 24 percent reported doing more than 80 activities. BazaarVoice realized that health and wellness doesn’t start and stop with exercise and nutrition, it extends to the employee’s state of mind. They look to reduce the employee’s stress level with flexible work schedules, workspaces for focus, and unlimited vacation policy.