Agile – the real definition of this word doesn't have anything to do with software development or organizational processes. Its synonyms include nimble, flexible, sprightly, prompt. Merriam-Webster says to be agile is to have an ability to move with quick and easy grace. An older person described as agile is young at heart, lively, and mobile.
I'm sure you know what I'm getting at here. Shouldn't employees' health and wellbeing be important to an agile company too? Of course it should – not just mental agility, but physical agility is essential. They say that good health is the most important thing in life, and it's something we should take care of continuously. After all, we can only be mentally resilient and able-minded when our bodies play along. And, of course, nobody wants their fellow team members to get sick. This is why health and preventative care have always been a high priority at //SEIBERT/MEDIA. And it doesn't necessarily require any company initiatives either.
We have succeeded in creating a culture of empowerment in which people can contribute and promote their own initiatives. Many of our team members take it upon themselves to encourage preventative health care in the company. Self-organized groups put a great deal of time and energy into raising awareness of preventative health issues and getting others enthusiastic about them too. As such, we have already tried out plenty of initiatives and measures, which we hope will have a cumulative effect over time. All of the activities outlined below are of course entirely voluntary!
So we would like to take the opportunity to touch on some of the things we are doing at //SEIBERT/MEDIA to promote the health and wellbeing of our employees. Perhaps some of you will find some inspiration to start something similar in your own organizations.
Genuine understanding in cases of sickness
The way you handle illness is an essential aspect of creating a practical and sustainable approach to health care and prevention. Everyone gets a cold or an upset stomach from time to time. Here at //SEIBERT/MEDIA we say, if you're sick, you're sick, and you should prioritize your health. Nobody is expected to drag themselves into the office when they're ill. A team member that comes and sits in the office coughing and spluttering isn't helpful for anyone – they can't really recover and will probably end up passing it onto half of the team.
If the sickness ends up being a bit more stubborn and lasts more than three days, then we would require a sick note from the doctor. But if someone is feeling off-color for two days, they should spend that time in bed with some hot tea, not two hours in the waiting room at the doctor's office just to get a reassuring note for their employer.
We also take this approach to doctor's appointments. It is often hard enough to get an appointment without having to wait weeks, and doctors rarely take working hours into consideration. Our working hours are flexible, so nobody has to take half a day's vacation to visit the doctor. They can talk to their team about it, and then go when they need to. It's that simple.
Annual flu vaccinations
As I mentioned previously, no one is immune to catching a cold every now and again. However, there is an effective vaccination against the more severe variety, the flu, which can certainly knock you off of your feet for a while. Employees can get this shot every fall, without even having to leave the office. Once a year, an internist comes to visit us to give the flu vaccination to anyone who wants it and provides free advice at the same time. The company picks up the bill for it.
Our sports teams
Active sports play a more significant role here than you might expect in a "traditional" office-based company. A range of groups have been organized by employees as a way of exercising together regularly – from the classic joggers' group to the fun and enthusiastic Monday soccer group. The company contributes to costs wherever reasonable and necessary, e.g. rental costs or participation fees.
My colleague Torsten uses the somewhat stuffy term "corporate sports" but is one of the team members that invests a great deal of passion and energy into it. He has already written a detailed post about our sports groups, so I will just give you a short recap:
- Weekly soccer games (played on a rented pitch subsidized by //SEIBERT/MEDIA).
- Weekly jogging group (in Wiesbaden's Kurpark).
- Weekly yoga classes, led by our team member Jimena in the office. Employees can also visit the Now Yoga studio close to the office any time.
- Running stairs in the LuisenForum: A weekly meet-up provides a high-intensity workout for those with strong lungs.
- Participation in the annual Charity Walk in Wiesbaden (participants can jog five or ten kilometers for a good cause).
- Training for the German Sports Badge (test completed via the sports club in Amöneburg).
- Badminton event (held about twice a year at Paul Herwarth's badminton club).
- Hiking trips (once a year).
- Functional fitness (currently in the testing phase with our former trainee Nico).
Everyone in the company is welcome to join in these activities, and the groups are open to everyone. And if you want a change, you can switch activiities – although the power of a group dynamic and Torsten's persuasiveness aren't to be underestimated! 😀
Truly ergonomic workspaces
We have now equipped all workspaces with height-adjustable desks, so it only takes a few seconds to turn a seated desk into a standing desk. Not only is it good for our employees' backs, but it's also a good way to mix things up during the day.
Those who work at a desk all day know the tension and pain in the neck and shoulder area that often appears at end of a week. Here, employees have the option to enjoy a 20-minute back and neck massage. carried out by a professional once a month. As you can imagine, team members really appreciate their monthly massages! The experienced masseur comes to our office in the LuisenForum building with everything they need, including a massage table.
Food and drink
It's no secret that a balanced diet is a crucial component when it comes to good health. As a company, we try to support our colleagues in maintaining a healthy diet by providing e food options in the office.
All offices have a high-quality water dispenser with an in-built thermal purification and filtration system. A large fruit basket is provided daily and available to team members at all times. And sometimes colleagues even use it to prepare fresh smoothies for everyone.
Lunches are 50% subsidized by the company. Our "Ponyhof" team puts a great deal of heart and soul into organizing varied menus with meals that aren't too heavy, offer vegetarian options, and are, of course, delicious.
We want to encourage long-term awareness around good health – and that requires knowledge. Every now and again, team members organize information sessions in the office on different topics around health and prevention. For example, Mr. Wohn ( from a Wiesbaden support group for those affected by organ transplantation) spoke about organ donation and Dr. Müller and Mr. Römer from the German Red Cross spoke about bone marrow donation. Both sessions proved to be extremely interesting and informative.
Events by health insurance companies
Every now and again, health insurance companies get in touch with us and ask to present their corporate health care programs. This has provided us with some interesting contacts, and some of them have even made a visit to our office for special events, e.g. a fitness test, a workshop on stress management and determining your stress type, and in-house health checks for motor skills. All of these events were fully booked, and some were even extended because so many people wanted to take part. Great!
Some companies provide employees with leased company cars. But would that be a good fit for us? Not really. We would rather invest the money in other places and so decided to do it on a smaller scale. Inspired by an AgileOrg story, we are now doing our part to support the switch from four wheels to two, and offer our employees the opportunity to use a bicycle or an e-bike on an individual leasing contract. For many, this option is better than buying their own bike, and it's a great way to stay fit.
What is it like in your company? Are health and prevention key topics there too? Perhaps you and your colleagues have completely different ways of going about it, which could inspire others? We'd love to hear from you! 🙂
Our new office space – even more room for new team members!
Yoga, soccer, hiking, or badminton with the team – or just how sporty is //SEIBERT/MEDIA?
Three southern journeys – my trip to mark ten years as an employee