If you're looking to attract the best tech talent out there, it's important to keep your employees healthy and happy. These leading Chicago tech companies offer their employees everything from healthy snacks to yoga classes, paintball outings, wall-sit contests and company bicycles.
Wellness initiatives: Reverb offers weekly in-office yoga classes to its employees, many of whom also play ping pong at the office throughout the day. Their office is also right by Whole Foods, where many employees go during lunch.
Impact: “Yoga gives us a chance to unwind and mentally refocus during the workweek,” said Contella. “It's a great way to get some stretching and meditation in without having to go far, and it allows people to approach work challenges with their A game. Ping Pong provides a great break from staring at the computer screen and a chance to get up and get the blood flowing.”
Why they do it: “A few employees mentioned they'd participate in office yoga, and our CEO happens to have a family friend who is a top-notch instructor,” said Contella. “The Ping Pong table was a no brainer as many of our team members are pretty great at it. In both instances, we thought it would be beneficial to bring people from different departments together to unwind.”
Wellness initiatives: kCura pays its employees' entry fees in races like the Chicago Corporate Challenge, and offers free weekly yoga and bootcamp classes, CPR classes and biometric wellness screenings, as well as discounts for Divvy memberships. The company also has fresh fruit baskets throughout the office, free massage sessions at peak times, and a Zen room with napping and meditation areas. Plus, there's a social group for climbers.
Impact: “Over 50 percent of kCurians are taking advantage of the wellness perks,” said Chief People Officer Dorie Blesoff. “A recent independent survey by Crain’s showed that 96% of kCura employees attributed the statement ‘I enjoy and even have some fun, working with people here’ to the company’s culture.”
Why they do it: “We strive to provide opportunity for living and breathing a work-life balance,” said Blesoff. “It is not only about getting your job done effectively but also having more energy and vigor to give to your family and friends when you get home. And, by the way, it doesn’t hurt our employee referral rate either — 36 percent of 2015 hires were employee referrals.”
Wellness initiatives: Persio offers healthy food and snacks, including fruits and nuts, with employees encouraged to request personal favorites. Employees are also offered free access to a gym in their office building and discounted Divvy memberships (although most cyclists on staff ride their own bikes). Some employees also participate in 5k races.
Impact: Talent acquisition manager James Lewis said coworker bike rides fosters camaraderie, which helps the team work better together.
Why they do it: “It’s simple — our goal is to hire and develop the best team possible,” said Lewis. “A big part of this is fostering an environment where employees know we care about them outside of their professional talents…. The results speak for themselves. We have people who share interests both professionally and personally, and by making it part of our day-to-day, we see better productivity in life and work!”
Wellness initiatives: Narrative Science offers a great benefits package, a free in-building gym, weekly lunch, free healthy drinks and snacks, standing desks, stability balls, and flexible vacation time. They also put on initiatives like a work out week, where every day is dedicated to a fitness challenge like the infamous office-wide wall-sit, and sponsor events like the Chase Corporate challenge and local intramural sports leagues.
Why they do it: “Healthy and happy employees are crucial to maintaining the passion that drives our company,” said Grinberg. “It also has an added benefit of team members getting to know each other in a more fun environment…. We know working at a startup means non-traditional work hours and we want to provide easy access to fitness and healthy resources.”
Wellness initiatives: In addition to complimentary access to an on-site training facility, SMS Assist works with fitness instructors and nutritionists to develop a yearly 12-week wellness program for its employees where team members win prizes for achieving predetermined fitness goals. The company also sponsors several internal sports teams.
Impact: “When employees feel cared for, we find they’re happier and more productive contributors,” said CEO Mike Rothman. “By investing in health initiatives for our team members, we’re not only providing a perk, but we’re also bettering the company as a whole.”
Why they do it: “SMS wants to help our employees achieve their goals, both professionally and personally, by providing them with the best tools possible,” said Rothman.
Wellness initiatives: “We provide a weekly onsite yoga class, healthy drinks and snacks in our break room, seasonal flu shots as well as unlimited PTO and sick time to handle any type of personal, familial or everyday life responsibilities outside of work,” said Dolan. “We also sponsor and participate in the Chase Corporate Challenge every year as a team.”
Impact: Dolan said DialogTech has seen these initiatives boost morale, motivation, collaboration, and productivity, as employees notice that their health and happiness are priorities.
Why they do it: “We want our employees to be fulfilled, and we want them to appreciate their time, however long or short, at DialogTech and recognize us as an employer who cares about our employees and strives every day towards one of our core values: that we will be the easiest company you've ever worked for,” said Dolan.
Wellness initiatives: Sprout Social offers flexible hours and time off, healthy treats and free lunch daily, as well as yoga classes twice a week after work through Bottom Line Yoga. The company also sponsors corporate 5Ks, canoe trips and other outdoor activities, along with Divvy bike memberships and health club discounts. Employees also organize their own initiatives like run clubs and participation in events like the Ragnar Relay series.
Impact: “Promoting workplace wellness keeps our employees motivated and their morale high, and consequently makes them want to do great work for us, boosting their productivity while they’re in the office,” said Conti.
Why they do it: “We believe it’s important for employees to have a good work-life balance, and accommodating that balance is good for both our employees’ mental health and their physical well-being,” said Conti. “Here at Sprout, we know that we are nothing without our team, so we are committed to doing our part to keep them happy and healthy.”
Wellness initiatives: VISANOW offers yoga, gym membership discounts, standing desks, healthy snacks, and support for individual and group initiatives like marathons and 5Ks.
Why they do it: “We want our employees to feel valued, engaged and happy,” said president and CEO Dick Burke. “Our employees are paramount to our success, and it’s crucial that we ensure their wellbeing so they can continue to provide an extraordinary level of service to help individuals grow, businesses succeed and families reconnect.”
Wellness initiatives: In addition to initiatives like work from home, flexible hours, and unlimited paid time off, employees are encouraged to partake in deciding how part of the culture budget is spent (the Chicago office spends part of its budget on bi-monthly massages). The company also recently started a fitness reimbursement program that lets employees get money back for gym memberships, classes, and fitness equipment. 3Q also hosts classes on ergonomics and nutrition.
Impact: “Time will tell, since the fitness reimbursement and lunch n' learns are new,” said VP of People Laura Rodnitzky. “However, we've received a ton of positive feedback from employees, especially regarding the fitness reimbursement. It was the number one perk people were asking for.”
Why they do it: “A healthy employee is a happy employee!” said Rodnitzky. “Also, we recognize that our employees work hard — they're under pressure from their clients, their peers, and themselves to do great work. Providing ways to help them relieve stress, and encouraging them to find a healthy work-life balance, is one way we can help.”
Wellness initiatives: Braintree’s healthy lifestyle initiatives include weekly yoga classes, daily catered lunch with gluten free options and a salad bar, gym membership discounts, massage therapy for teams with increased workloads, free flu shots, standing desks, and employee-driven activities like weekend bike rides.
Impact: “Increased morale and more engaged team members,” said Technical Recruiter Ryan Thorpe. “And maybe jealousy from folks on the outside looking in. The workload here isn't light or easy, so initiatives like these are a breath of fresh air to your day and actually show folks we care about their mental and physical health.”
Why they do it: “We like to think we hire really talented folks, and the best usually expect a lot,” said Thorpe. “Hopefully these initiatives tell a story of why it's great to work here, they provide little boosts of happiness during the day, and hey, it just feels good.”
Wellness initiatives: With its mission to improve health care, Emmi walks the walk by providing healthy breakfasts daily, as well as healthy snacks from Naturebox. The company likes its employees to stay active, with discounts to gyms and employee-led yoga and dance classes, 5K race training, and a relaxed work environment with ping pong, foosball, and video games available. About 80 percent of Emmi’s employees have standing desks.
Impact: “By taking care of our employees’ health needs — both from an emotional and physiological perspective — I believe we have a healthier and happier employee population,” said Sharon Ray, VP of Human Resources. “People are more invested in their work when they know their employer cares about them on an individual level.”
Why they do it: “Times are changing,” said Ray. “People want to work for companies that have a purpose and care about their employees. Our positive mission of improving healthcare unites Emmi employees behind a common goal, and when we practice what we preach and empower our own people to take ownership of their health and wellbeing, that really resonates.”
Wellness initiatives: CSG offers a competitive benefits package, as well as annual biometric wellness screenings to improve health awareness. They also offer free flu shots, weight management programs, support for employees in managing conditions like diabetes, and programs to help employees quit smoking. They also have partnerships with a number of gyms, and sponsor health-focused initiatives like 5Ks, bike challenges, and in-office exercise programs.
Impact: CSG has seen increased participation in the annual biometric screening process and brought down healthcare costs, helping them keep costs down for their employees.
Why they do it: “Offering a competitive benefits package along with programs to improve our employees’ health is a win-win,” said Tara Taft, Talent Acquisition at CSG. “The company benefits from reduced sick time, lower benefits costs, and increased productivity, while employees have the opportunity for increased well-being and a healthier lifestyle.”
Wellness initiatives: The company offers flexible paid time off, so employees can take time to relax and recharge. They also offer an employee assistance program to help employees manage personal issues at home or at work. Other perks include healthy snacks like yogurt and fruit, as well as an on-site fitness center, treadmill desks and standing desks, and outings to cycling and yoga classes.
Impact: PowerReviews finds that health and wellness initiatives make employees feel respected and cared for, fostering loyalty among team members. Kira Meinzer, VP of Human Resources, also claims it’s not uncommon to hear teammates encourage each other to partake in fitness initiatives.
Why they do it: “We believe that if our employees aren’t happy and healthy both physically and mentally, they won’t be effective professionally,” said Meinzer.
Wellness initiatives: Yello puts on quarterly sports leagues, and offers discounted gym memberships for the Chicago Athletic Association. They also get fresh fruit and healthy snacks delivered, as well as a healthy weekly lunch with vegetarian and gluten free options.
Impact: CEO Jason Weingarten said Yello’s initiatives help further cross-departmental collaboration, openness, and accessibility — all of which are important at a fast-growing company.
Why they do it: “We want happy employees!” said Weingarten. “Our team is 100 percent dedicated to making sure our clients are happy, and we want to make sure we foster that mentality from the inside out. Offering healthy food options, a top-tier medical plan and team building physical activities emphasizes our commitment to investing in the health of our most valuable asset — our employees.”
Wellness initiatives: Solstice has a dedicated wellness committee that meets regularly, and that is made up of employees passionate about health and fitness. The company also has a yearly 12-week fitness challenge, throughout which the committee sends out healthy recipes and fitness articles daily. They also host sessions on nutrition and meditation, and participate in the yearly Bike to Work week and the Chase Corporate Challenge.
Impact: “Our employees really rally together when it comes to wellness,” said Wellness Committee Lead Amanda Cuzzo. “We take fitness classes together in our building’s fitness center, and hold small office fitness challenges such as “Lunge Day” and push-up contests.”
Why they do it: “We have an abundance of people who already live a healthy lifestyle and some that don't and needed guidance,” said Cuzzo. “We work with individuals who have hobbies that range from cross-fit, yoga, obstacle course racing, marathons, cycling, and weightlifting. We even helped to start sports teams for those interested in softball, kickball, volleyball and soccer…. We really get to highlight our employees who have a craving to better themselves in the mind and body, which in turn draws others in and creates a positive snowball effect.”
Wellness initiatives: ContextMedia offers free weekly on-site yoga classes, free gym memberships, discounts on Divvy memberships, and has its own weightlifting group: ContextMedia Power Club. They’re also defending champions in the Startup Wars Volleyball tournament. “Just saying,” said Wellness Team lead Ryan Postel.
Impact: “We've been sure to define metrics to actually track and quantify the efficacy of our programs,” said Postel. “For example, for our meditation program, through a partnership with LifeXT, we’ve measured improvements in happiness, decision making, organizational trust, focus and stress across the participants who have attended our workshops. These holistic benefits not only make for happier employees, but carry over beyond our walls so that our team can live happier lives.”
Why they do it: “ContextMedia’s mission is to improve health outcomes of patients,” said Postel. “Simply put, encouraging healthy living is what we do. We practice what we preach not only with our patients, but with our team. These initiatives aren’t just add-ons or perks, they are an integral part of who we are as a company.”
Wellness initiatives: Legacy offers a kitchen stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables, annual flu shots, blood screenings, and walking programs. Incentives to meet wellness goals include gift cards, discounts on insurance, and personal days. Some meetings also host meetings outside when the weather permits.
Impact: Based on data from pedometers handed out to employees, Human Resources coordinator Kristin Fischer said this year’s walking program has been a big hit this year.
Why they do it: “With growing numbers of Americans facing health problems, we wanted to be proactive in helping our employees maintain their good health,” said HR Director Katherine Laggos. “We also had research which suggested that implementing wellness programs helped companies control health insurance costs in the long term. The wellness program is a win for us all around!”
Wellness initiatives: Smokeball’s building has yoga, cardio, and core training classes, with flexibility provided for employees who work out in the mornings or during lunch. They also offer monthly massages, subsidized gym memberships, breakfast, healthy snacks, and frequent lunches with gluten free and vegetarian options.
Impact: Nearly all employees take advantage of the gym subsidy program and fit in a workout in their day, with a noticeable resulting mid-day energy boost. Snacks and lunches also help employees feel welcomed to the team, improving communication and collaboration.
Why they do it: “We want our employees to be happy at work, and at home,” said VP of Marketing and Communications Chelsey Lambert. “Lifestyle perks at Smokeball are aimed to help make employees more productive, by making them feel at home, in the office.”
Wellness initiatives: From free in-house gym memberships, juice tastings, massages, and classes in guided meditation, to free healthy snacks and ergonomic furniture, Rise has a variety of offerings to keep its employees healthy and happy. Rise also has company sports teams and encourages participation in charitable runs and and walks.
Impact: “We’re seeing a steady increase in involvement and interest in adding even more activities that promote a healthy lifestyle,” said Associate Director of Employee Services Lindsay Dagiantis. “Nurturing a culture that values health and wellness has helped us develop an even more engaged and balanced workforce.”
Why they do it: “We want to do all we can to develop our employees and set them up for success both professionally and physically,” said Dagiantis.
Wellness initiatives: During the summer, GoHealth offers a flexible Friday option to let employees enjoy the weather. The company also provides subsidized gym memberships, company bicycles, healthy snacks, and on-site flu vaccinations.
Impact: “Groups of employees regularly head to the gym together during their lunch breaks,” said Mark Monitello, SVP of HR. “Some of our employees have even taken advantage of our vacation policy and booked trips around the world together. So not only do our employees actively use our wellness offerings, but they’re doing so by building relationships outside of the office, which is pretty cool to see.”
Why they do it: “We recognize that happy and healthy people are the most effective, dedicated employees,” said Monitello. “Our wellness benefits help our employees become their best, healthiest selves outside of work, so they can do their greatest work when they’re in the office.”
Wellness initiatives: Enova has partnerships with fitness clubs across the city, including Core Power Yoga and Title Boxing. With flexible summer hours, sabbaticals, and sponsorships of sports teams and races, this fintech provider really tries to ensure that its companies get out and about.
Impact: “We have an extremely fit workforce that takes full advantage of our health and wellness offerings,” said senior recruiting manager Julie Emerson. “The fruit, eggs and LaCroix are the first items to go from our snack kitchen, and the demand for sports team sponsorships and races increases every year.”
Why they do it: “We’ve always known and attributed our success to having a team of top talent individuals. People who are happy when they come to work and see that they are valued are more likely to continue to perform at their best,” said Emerson. “Enova employees are energetic, motivated, and understand the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We’re glad we can help our employees in their efforts to stay active and eat right.
ReviewTrackers empowers companies by letting them efficiently monitor their online reputations. Their culture is centered around making employees feel like their contributions matter.
Wellness initiatives: ReviewTrackers offers active company outings, including weekly yoga classes. They also have great health care, healthy snacks, and offer incentives to employees who meet preventative care goals.
Impact: “Employees, especially those who have experienced less than great insurance plans are incredibly grateful when they hear that we cover their insurance — 100 percent,” said CEO Chris Campbell.
Why they do it: “Leading a healthy lifestyle is important to people,” said COO Kevin Kent. “We want to make sure our office is a place where people can extend their healthy lifestyle or start one with a team of people as support.”
Wellness initiatives: Mediafly gives employees flexible work schedules, and lets them work remotely if they so choose. At the office, they have free access to a bike room, a gym, healthy snacks, and professionally configured ergonomic work stations. They also encourage employees to play ping pong at the in-office table, and organize outings for activities like paintball.
Why they do it: “Our initiatives are all about building a positive work environment that inspires everyone to achieve excellence. We want our employees to feel their best when they're at work,” said Operations Coordinator TJ Patel. “We originally brought in an ergonomist after hearing concerns from our developers, who spend an exceptional amount of time behind a computer.... From there, we learned that it's all about listening to our employees and really understanding what they need to be productive.”
Wellness initiatives: Centro’s Bucks to Get Buff program offers employees reimbursements for gym memberships, classes, and fitness equipment. They also offer yoga classes, discounts on Divvy bike memberships, sessions with nutritionists, and healthy snacks such as fruit, Greek yogurt, and granola. Offices also have ergonomic chairs and standing desks.
Impact: Centro was ranked first on Crain’s best places to work in Chicago list in 2011–2014, and second last year. They were also eighth on Fortune’s Best Medium Size-Workplace list in 2014 and ninth in 2015.
Why they do it: “Our founder and CEO, Shawn Riegsecker, believes that maintaining the happiness, health and well-being of employees will be the number one determinant of a company’s success,” said Centro SVP of operations Emily Barron. “Our philosophy is that by taking care of employees’ psychological and physiological needs, the happier they will be and the more they will give to the employer and customers.”
Wellness initiatives: Since financial health is part of wellness, Pear offers tools to help employees manage their finances. Pear also has various fitness challenges including one in which 720 team members walked a total of nearly 120,000 miles. They also offer healthy eating options, including options that are vegetarian, gluten free, and paleo.
Why they do it: Pear offers benefits to encourage healthy lifestyle choices and promote community within the company.