Getting paid to run? Maybe this kind of employee perk shouldn't come as a surprise in a company run by a chairman who has competed in 15 marathons, plus many triathlons. But do workers really get the time to participate?
"It''s an employee policy that's really unique to this company, where we'll pay for the cost of the registration, and if you complete the event, depending in what type of event it is, you'll get a one-time bonus," James "Jamie" J. Maguire, chairman of Philadelphia Insurance Companies told me during our Executive Q&A interview published in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer.
"It's an incentive for our employees to participate in a 10K, a 5K, a walk, a marathon. If you're really crazy you do an Ironman triathlon. Based on the difficulty of the event you can get a bonus, and we'll pay for the registration to do the event," he said. When employees participate in runs or walks for charity, he said, the company will match the money they raise.
The company also set up a 15,000 square foot gym for employees. Here's where my cynicism came to the fore. I love how (and I'm being sarcastic here) companies develop programs for healthy lifestyles and set up walking programs at lunch, but then work their employees so hard that no one can rise from a desk to eat -- let alone get to a gym, let alone shower, let alone handle hair and make-up.
"If you're going to work out or walk around the building or do something healthy, we do give our employees an extra 15 to 20 minutes at lunch," Maguire said when I asked him about it. I also asked him whether the company had hired more people to share responsibilities so workers can actually get up and exercise. He said yes.
Maguire said the company realized the old gym, a mere 5,000 square feet, was "small and stinky, and the locker rooms were tiny, and people were cramped. If we were going to espouse this health and wellness culture and we want to really foster it, and we really believe in it, we have to walk the walk" and build the gym.
I asked Maguire how he makes sure women employees have enough time for the gym, since their post workout recovery period (i.e. makeup and hair) might be a little more complicated than their male co-workers' shower-and-go situation.
"That's why we give them more time at lunch, okay," he said. "That's why when we renovated the gym, I said, `Let's make sure we put hair dryers in there. Lots of mirrors space.' Because what we had before, nobody had time to fix their hair or do anything. There was nothing. So that was a big motivator for getting a gym too."
Question: Do you understand about the hair?
Answer: Yeah, I've got five sisters.
Q: And you have four daughters.
A: And I have four daughters.
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