We all know that healthier employees are more productive at work. Research also shows that workers experience even higher happiness and performance outcomes when physical (and mental) wellness is added to the mix. As longevity investor and founder of Longevity Vision Fund, here are my top picks of unique corporate wellness program features at each of the five tech giants: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google.
“The internet may be the best way to get access to health”
- Mark Zuckerberg, founder
This #1 social media platform with 2.3 billion active users is adopting unique methods to keep their employees active, too. For example, Facebook introduced ‘smart’ vending machines to supply employees not with crisps and candies but with… bike parts! Facebook is putting a new, high-tech spin (pun intended) on traditional vending machines to encourage their employees to commute by cycling. After all, biking is good for both our health and our planet – so well done, Facebook, for proactively helping employees stay fit while reducing their carbon footprint!
However, if cycling is not your thing (for any reason) or if you walk to work, you can still head to Facebook’s ‘smart’ vending machine for a yoga mat: lunch breaks have become popular times for employees to de-stress.
“You need to be constantly figuring out… what are you doing to stay forever young”
- Jeff Bezos, founder
Joining Facebook on the ‘health kiosk trend’ innovation, Amazon offers amazin’ or, rather, AmaZen mindfulness practices as part of their corporate wellness program. AmaZen features easy video guides on meditations, positive affirmations, and calming scenes with sounds – all available on-demand through a self-service kiosk to all company employees, regardless of their job title and location. As part of this program, workers get hourly reminders at their workstations encouraging them to take a moment to breathe, stretch, and do "mental reflections."
Amazon said that one of the factors it will take into account when evaluating a worker’s performance is their active participation in their corporate wellness program. However, workers that choose not to take part will not be penalized. In the healthiest of trends, Amazon’s methods are “all carrot and no stick”!
“Health will be Apple's greatest contribution to mankind"
- Tim Cook, CEO
Moving on from carrots to Apple, this tech giant has launched its own medical clinics with the aim of delivering the ‘world’s best health care experience’ to its employees. clinics, called AC Wellness, feature medical doctors, exercise coaches, and phlebotomists that administer blood tests on-site – and even ‘designers’ that create programs to promote healthy behavior and prevent diseases.
But that’s not all: Apple is revolutionizing other companies’ corporate health programs, too. The Apple Watch can work seamlessly with third-party corporate wellness programs and apps such as Virgin Pulse (technology for corporate wellness, part of Virgin Group) and Vitality (an insurance company that incentivizes healthy behaviors). So it’s no surprise that the Watch is getting rave reviews not only from its retail customers (with almost 34 million units sold in 2020) but from its corporate clients, too. For example, Aetna said they “are excited to offer Apple Watch to our employees,” while IBM called it “an ideal device to drive our wellness priorities.”
“Being born in a particular location shouldn't be the thing that determines how long you live"
- Bill Gates, founder
“Wellness is not complete unless we achieve emotional balance in our lives,” says Microsoft. I agree. That’s why my pick for this list is their CARES program, which focuses on mental wellbeing. Microsoft CARES provides 24/7 access to counselors and wellness coaches that offer emotional support, marital workshops, and grief counseling. The company understands that seeking psychological help can be hard, which is why Microsoft employs neuroscience and machine learning to understand mental behaviors and help provide assistance early on.
Microsoft has been good at helping employees keep their calm during the viral pandemic, too. For example, the company promised to support their employees with a $1,500 bonus for their efforts during this challenging time, as well as extra vacation days this year – while parents with children under age 12 received a 3-month paid leave during school closures.
“I am really excited about the possibility of data… to improve health”
- Larry Page, co-founder
“If what we are doing is not seen by some people as science fiction, it’s probably not transformative enough”
- Sergey Brin, co-founder
For 18 years, “don't be evil” were the first words of the opening and closing sentences of Google's code of conduct since 2000. It also became its unofficial motto, which reflects the ethical standards this tech giant strives for. And these are not just words: Google values giving back to the community and actively encourages other Googlers to do so, too, by matching the donations employees make to their charities of choice. Moreover, the company also adds donations for hours Googlers work as volunteers in their chosen non-profits.
I consider this great endeavor to be an important aspect of the way Google cares not just for the planet but for the employees, too. This is because of the direct positive effect kindness has on the physical and mental health of their employees. "Engaging in kindness… has therapeutic benefits," says Daniel Fessler, Professor & Director at UCLA’s Bedari Kindness Institute, "There are benefits for treating depression and anxiety.” Kelli Harding, a doctor at Columbia University, agrees. She says acts of kindness help “people to live longer and better” – and, even more importantly – that "in medicine, the technology may be getting better but you can never replicate the kindness of a supportive caregiver.”
The tech environment is becoming more and more competitive, so an innovative corporate wellbeing program can be a factor of differentiation. An employer who cares for their people is far more likely to attract and retain the best talent. In return, they get healthier employees, happier teams, and higher engagement. It’s a win-win!