'Best For the World' Volume 2: Our (Broad) Commitment to Employee Wellness

Jul 12, 2018



For the second part of our series spotlighting the policies that earned us “Best For the World” recognition in two categories last month, we’re exploring the wonderful world of workplace wellness. 

Wellness at work is on the rise as employers battle ever-increasing health insurance costs and battle for top talent by offering creative benefits. According to the Center for Disease Control, worksite wellness programs can improve employee health, reduce insurance costs, and improve worker productivity. Beyond the B Corporation community, where wellness is a way of life, even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has reported that 60% of small business owners believe that employee health and wellness programs are worth the investment, though less than a quarter of them actually have a program.

Today Oliver Russell has 12 employees, about the same number as when we implemented our wellness policy back in 2014. Paid out quarterly, the policy gives each employee (full or part time) $50 a month to use toward healthy living, defined very broadly. Today, 100% of employees take advantage of the policy, which factored into our recent "Best For the World" win in the Workers category. "The amount of $50 was chosen because it seemed to cover most monthly gym memberships and was generous while still being affordable for the small agency," says agency founder and owner, Russ Stoddard

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Yes, that's really an Oliver Russell employee, finance manager Jenai Jasper. She is a CrossFit fanatic, and her arms regularly break our Instagram.

Two recent hires report that they are particularly motivated by the stipend.

“No other employer has offered me anything like this before, but it makes total sense,” says Jenai Jasper, finance manager and CrossFit aficionado who can definitely do more push-ups than any of her male co-workers (see her biceps on our Instagram).

“I feel encouraged to use my gym membership, or purchase things like my stand-up desk, which will all improve my health and make me a more productive employee,” says Jenai.

Employee wellness is also important to two full-time producers who also happen to be yoga teachers. Holly Conti has been with Oliver Russell for more than a year and uses her wellness dollars for a yoga app subscription and regular Reiki treatments. She also teaches a yoga class once a week for employees, and many of us use wellness dollars to pay her for her time. 

New producer Ashley Ridgeway has been with Oliver Russell for less than a month. She said her previous employee also had a wellness policy, but it was more traditional. 

“The thing I like best about Oliver Russell’s program is the openness to spending our dollars on whatever wellness looks like for us personally at that time,” says Ashley. “I’ve recently started acupuncture so I am going to use the wellness credit towards that. Acupuncture helps in managing my migraines and keeping my energy up.”

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Ashley Ridgway is a producer at Oliver Russell. 

Director of Account Services Shawna Samuelson is a mother of two and says that she’s “tested the limits” of Oliver Russell’s flexibility, including using wellness dollars for a toddler bike seat, a jogging stroller, and even her vitamins.

Adie Bartron, a producer who has worked here for almost eight years, has used her wellness dollars to register for the famous Idaho half-marathon, Robie Creek.

“My wellness allowance has supported my Robie training efforts by covering the cost of new running shoes, workout clothes, and the occasional massage,” Adie says. “The fact that Oliver Russell is willing to invest in my health and well-being makes me feel valued as an employee. It feels good to work for an employer who encourages me to be the best version of myself!” The best version of herself she is... just ask her clients. 

As much personal benefit as the health and wellness policy has for employees, there's a true benefit to the business as well. It aids in developing happy employees which ultimately leads to less turnover and more production. And well—the "Best for the World" nod is a good bonus, too.