Better by Design: Introducing a Cultural Wellness Program

So far, 2017 has been all about “Firm Fitness” for tvsdesign. Our new President, Janet Simpson, has taken significant steps to strategically position our firm through what we’re calling the Firm Fitness Plan – a comprehensive business strategy keeping us agile and focused on a shared vision. One element of this initiative is fostering a culture of innovation and support. As an employee-owned company, this part is important to us because each interaction on the job directly contributes to the overall health of our firm.

The Brand & Culture Committee, a task force of architects, interior designers and resource team members, has taken the lead in extending Firm Fitness to our company culture by discussing what’s in the way of progress, what we need to continue doing well and what we need to start doing to reach the growth we’re looking for as individuals and as one firm. Our guiding belief is that in order to be the brand we aspire to be, we need to look inward at our own cultural ecosystem first.

Under the influence of total firm fitness, the Brand & Culture Committee liked the idea of taking a more literal approach by committing to the health and wellbeing of our people, and thus, the Better by Design initiative was born. With a full-time implementation of wellness rather than just the annual six-week fitness challenge, this program aims to give employees the tools they need to make them healthier, happier and, by default, more productive.


Bringing everyone to the table

To get things going, we asked staff what they want – and roughly half of all employees answered. By sending out surveys and starting up conversations with people around the firm, we learned that a lot of our cultural boundaries were worsened by silo-style studios, where staff tend to cluster socially as well as productively, and the ultimate office downer for our people is stress. More specifically, the survey taught us that:

  1. People wanted more flexible options for work time and their social lives.
    • 90% of those surveyed wanted to institute Summer Friday hours, where staff can take off four hours on Friday to make up the following week (four 9 hour days and a 4).
    • 72% of employees like the eWork program that leadership started last summer and want to revisit it for better adoption strategies.
  2. Our people are stressed out and want help to make their work life less stressful.
    • 58% of those surveyed wanted help managing their stress better.
    • On a scale of 1-10, respondents were asked to rate their current stress levels, with 1 being not at all stressed, 5 being somewhat stressed and 10 being completely overwhelmed. Only 14% of respondents rated their stress levels below a 5, meaning 86% rate their stress levels as moderate-high stress.
  3. People want to participate in ways that don’t cut into their own time.
    • The vast majority of respondents, 65%, want to participate in activities that are held before work or during lunch.
  4. Folks want to move more.
    • We asked respondents what goals they have for participating in a wellness program—make better diet choices, move/exercise more, get more sleep, manage stress better, quit caffeine, quit smoking or lose weight with an option to state their own goal. 87% want to exercise and move more.

Faced with the challenge of increasing our firm’s fitness and armed with the data of our specific pain points, we laid out a seven-point plan to commit to cultural wellness. Read it here.

Better by Design is about more than health and wellness—it’s about collaboratively fostering the kind of culture we aspire to have and nurturing the good parts of what we authentically already have in place. We’ll keep you posted on the progress as we check in with our people over the year, but in the meantime, if your company is doing something great to encourage health and wellness, let us know in the comments below – we’d love to hear about it.