Creating a Healthy Office Should Be About Culture, Not Perks

It's no secret why companies are piling on the wellness offers. Studies show the millennial generation, one of the biggest sources of new talent, consider eating right and exercising an important daily pursuit.
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We've all seen it (and maybe done it) on careers pages: treadmill desks, monthly massages, organic snacks, intramural sports --healthy office perks listed out like selections in the SkyMall catalogue.

It's no secret why companies are piling on the wellness offers. Studies show the millennial generation, one of the biggest sources of new talent, consider eating right and exercising an important daily pursuit. But while perks might do the trick to get talent in the door, they won't make your valuable employees stay. What does work is culture: if you start with the culture you want to create and build in perks that lead to that culture, you'll be able to attract incredible people and retain them for longer.

Culture Goal: Collaboration
One important element to life at Leadnomics is cross-functional teamwork. A good idea can come from anywhere and we're at our best (and most agile) when we work together. But in the busy day-to-day, it can be easy to get stuck in a silo. We saw our move last fall to a new office as a chance to use that space to create our culture.

We designed the office with plenty of common areas -- comfortable couches, a large kitchen island, communal tables -- that encourage movement and foster conversations across functions. We also invested in dynamic desks that go from a seated to standing position at the push of a button. We've found that standing is not only great for health reasons, but also because it creates more openness than being seated and hunched over. Standing encourages team members to stop by each others' desks, check out their work, and maybe offer some new insights or ideas.

Similar results can be accomplished with a budget of any size. Take a look around your office and do some creative rearranging; a shift in your space may encourage collaboration and look great to candidates who are coming in for interviews.

Culture Goal: Creativity
We're in a competitive market, so constant innovation is essential to our work. We focus on hiring people who bring that creativity to the table, but know they also need support and fuel to think in fresh ways every day.

Creating easy access to a healthy lifestyle seemed central to that culture mission: foods high in good fats and essential vitamins help the body stay alert and focused. And exercise releases feel-good endorphins that boost your mood and your work. With this in mind, we added a fridge and pantry stocked with healthy food for all employees to share. It's not exactly a unique feature --thanks to the continual research into every corner of millennials' lives, many employers have figured out just how much their target group loves snacking -- but it's definitely a team favorite. Just recently, a group of staff members started a daily five-minute exercise break at 3 p.m. It fights the afternoon slump and brings people from across the company together for a group activity and some laughs (try lunging down a hallway while high-fiving each other just once, I dare you).

We're still a relatively small company, so we're lucky we have the resources to provide snacks. Anyone, however, can organize a small workout group and create optional off-hours sports teams or other fun healthy incentives for employees to take part in.

Culture Goal: Mutual Care and Respect
We're constantly asking ourselves how we can show everyone on our team how much we support them and appreciate their hard work. We want our employees to feel cared about on both a personal and professional level, so whether that means restocking the kale chips or covering the majority of healthcare costs (in addition to all the non-health related efforts we make), we know that employees who feel valued are inevitably more dedicated to their jobs and, most importantly, are happier to be here.

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