Up and At 'Em
When it comes to employee health, the San Francisco-based tech company KEAS walks the walk- literally. Founded by former Google Health head and entrepreneur Adam Bosworth, KEAS combines the appeal of social media (such as Facebook) and online games (think Angry Birds!) to help employees achieve their health and wellness goals. Employees form teams and players earn points by making progress on their health goals, taking quizzes and healthy breaks, and completing quests. Employees can track both their personal and team progress, and move on to new challenges as they complete each goal. Approximately 35 companies, such as Bechtel, Pfizer, and Cheesecake Factory, are KEAS clients.
According to Chief Marketing Officer Keith Messick, KEAS encourages its workers to stand and walk more, not just when taking a break or at lunch, but while working as well.
"We're a technology company and what we do involves a lot of sitting, which can lead to many health problems, as we're all finding out," says Messick. To forestall some of those problems, KEAS offers all employees the option of both a seated and/or standing desk, as well as a traditional chair and/or a sitting ball, which engages your core ("or you'll flip right over!" says Messick).
"These are inexpensive ways to get people up more," says Messick, adding that employees are also encouraged to hold walking meetings.
"These may be small initiatives to get people moving, but they're part of an overall, company-wide attitude," says Messick. "It's important that the employees see that everyone in the company – including the executive team – is on the same page.
"Whether it's providing standing desks, sitting balls, paid gym memberships, a ping pong table, stationary bike, elliptical machine, WII (and shower facilities after you work up a sweat!), our goal is the same...to get people upright and moving throughout the day," says Messick.
Being on your feet throughout the day not only has a positive impact on employee health, but on productivity as well, Messick reports.
"Employees who stand have a higher energy level," he says. "They're also healthier, which makes them happier, more engaged, and more productive."
Lindsey Volckmann Irvine, KEAS’ director of business development, agrees: “My standing desk helps me bring some activity into an otherwise sedentary day. I actually feel more energized as a result, and while I don't stand all day, I try to use it as much as possible as I find I'm more likely to be physically active if I do.”