These companies use luxurious perks to promote company wellness


Need a workday breather? How about a guided meditation, tai chi demonstration or yoga break?

Today’s shrewd employers are offering such mini-escapes and more on their dime and time, aimed at reducing employee stress and therefore improving their bottom line.

Before an afternoon of back-to-back conference calls, overwhelmed staffers will soon be able to opt for a virtual beach-break, says Lyron Bentovim, co-founder of Immersive Sanctuary, a subsidiary of New York-based Glimpse Group. The company develops virtual reality applications that provide virtual wellness to individuals in corporate settings. For $3,000 to $5,000 a month, employers can purchase and license the required VR headsets and subscription-based software apps, which reside on a user’s computer.

“Instead of going downstairs to smoke a cigarette or use the phone, stressed-out workers can take a break in their cubicle to a tranquil coastal setting, or go through a light breathing exercise,” says Bentovim. “The power of VR is one’s ability to shut off the real world and transport you from the stressful environment you’re in. This will be mainstream. It’s another tool employers have in their wellness initiatives toolbox. The return on investment will be job satisfaction, employee retention and lower health care costs.”

With over 900 employees globally, including 450 in New York, employee wellness is evolving at Shutterstock, says Razia Meyer, head of global facilities and operations for the stock photography company.

“We introduced on-site, biweekly, 15-minute massages in 2013. Today, every Friday, roughly 250 people take advantage of this perk in New York,” says Meyer. “We’re proud to care for our employees so much. You’re only going to get the best outcome in terms of job responsibilities.”

The company also offers discounted gym memberships and on-site, after-hours hot yoga, meditation, kickboxing, salsa dancing and language classes. “We try out what’s trending,” says Meyer.

To fuel up, associates are also treated to complimentary beverages and “brain snacks” such as local, seasonal fruits on top of oats, and acai bowls, granola bars, and peanuts.

At Namely, a human resources management company, employees can take sabbaticals of varied lengths in accordance with time served. They are encouraged to “completely unplug,” says Matthew Monahan, chief people officer for the organization.

“There’s a lot of value there. Employee mental health is really important to reduce absenteeism. There are only so many ways insurance companies can control costs. It’s incumbent on employers to put measures in place that drive employee health,” he says.

To this end, unlimited vacation is another company bonus.

“In theory, we don’t want an employee gone for more than two weeks, but taking a 10-day trip to Europe won’t be frowned upon. Work hard when you’re here, but take a break. We haven’t seen a case of anyone abusing this,” says Monahan.

Angel Segarra of Elevate NYC performs massages for the employees at ShutterstockTamara Beckwith

The Internet is easing employers’ ability to escalate its wellness benefits. For example, Hilton recently partnered with Thrive Global, an innovative wellness startup, to create Thrive@Hilton. The partnership incorporates self-guided e-learning courses, as well as wellness days, flu shot clinics, yoga, mindfulness and meditation sessions.

Financial health is equally vital to personal well-being, says Brian Hamilton, vice president of SmartDollar, a financial services company created by finance guru Dave Ramsey.

“Some 70 percent of America are living paycheck to paycheck and are up to their eyeballs in debt,” he says. “Employees don’t leave their stressful financial lives at home. They bring it to work, and employers see drops in productivity as a result.”

Ramsey’s SmartDollar corporate financial wellness platform delivers a holistic approach to finances, says Hamilton. The online program offers a personal financial coach, guiding users through a seven-step financial planning program.

“Two-thirds of our usage is mobile. There are motivating video lessons broken down to 20-minute segments or less, budgeting and debt snowball tools,” says Hamilton.

All information is confidential, and the personalized approach pays off, says Hamilton.

“The average user sees a $5,000 to $25,000 turnaround in the first year in debt being paid off and savings,” says Hamilton. “Employers see gigantic results as well. Employees respond as if they are being cared for without the negative stigma.”



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