At Hord Coplan Macht, we strive to design buildings that help people live better and healthier lives; a goal which we embrace not just in the thinking behind our work but also in how we do what we do as a team. So we created Wellness Committees in our offices to help HCMers get moving, sweating, and eating healthier – and ultimately become better people and better architects. So how are we doing? We asked committee members Michelle Harris, Controller; Zoe Malfetti, HR Manager; and Heather Bemis, Project Manager, for a state of the (healthy) union report.
What are some of the initiatives the Wellness Committee has launched so far?
Heather: The Denver office has wellness initiatives each quarter. The first quarter is focused on financial wellness. It’s right after the holidays and before people are getting ready to pay taxes so it’s a great way to start the year off right. In the past, we set up seminars with a financial planner who came in and talked about a range of financial topics.
The second quarter emphasizes physical wellness. It’s around the time when the weather is great in Colorado so people like to get outside. We posed a challenge in the past that asked participants to workout three times a week for the first month, four times a week for the second month, and five times a week for the third month. At the end of every month, we held a drawing with the names of everyone who completed the challenge, and the winner received a Visa gift card. This challenge was very well received by those who participated.
The third quarter highlights workplace wellness – things like correct posture and stress management to help get people through the workday in the healthiest manner possible. Activities include having a masseuse come into the office and offer 15-minute massages, installing sit-stand desks, and hosting yoga classes after work.
The fourth quarter calls attention to dietary wellness. It’s right around Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we have our Holiday Weight Loss Challenge. In the past, we have done a $10 buy-in and people weigh themselves just before Halloween and weigh out after the Super Bowl. If they lost or maintained their weight at the end of the challenge, they got their money back. If they gained weight, their money was split up between those who didn’t.
Which initiative has been the most popular and/or effective?
Michelle: We definitely had the most participation in our “Plank Challenge.” At the same time each day, the receptionist would announce, “It’s time for today’s plank challenge!” and everyone would drop to the ground and hold a plank. We started at just 10 seconds and added time every day for three weeks. Eventually we worked our way up to two and a half minutes!
We even had a group of architects realize it was time for the plank challenge while they were touring a site, so they found the fitness center in the building and dropped down to plank right there!
How does the committee come up with ideas for new initiatives?
Zoe: In Denver, the Wellness Committee does the brainstorming. We also have a wellness calendar to help advertise different runs, challenges, and local health-related events that other HCM employees tell us about.
What positive changes have you seen since you’ve started?
Michelle: Well in terms of tangible results, after we started offering sparkling water as a healthy alternative, we’ve reduced our soda consumption by 25 percent.
But there have been a lot of other positive changes. I have co-workers coming up to me and asking me for new challenges. People are really starting to think about it and are even suggesting activities. We have so many ideas and buy-ins from the staff, we really just need time. It’s to the point where it’s hard to fit all these ideas in!
What has been the response from the HCM staff for these initiatives?
Heather: We received a lot of great feedback, especially from the people who participated in the Holiday Weight Loss Challenge. They said they kept the challenge in the back of their mind during the holidays and that they were invested to stay on track. Of the 13 people who participated, all but one or two of them either maintained or lost weight! We’re thinking of upping the stakes next year to motivate people even more.
How has it improved the culture at HCM?
Michelle: It helps bring awareness because if you’re personally trying to get moving, get more steps in, and be healthier, that translates into your work. In architecture, there’s a movement called active design, where the design of a building supports physical activity and overall health. A lot of us are a part of that movement so this makes it much more meaningful for them. It’s important to have that personal connection to your work. It all ties together.
Tying it all together by helping HCMers live healthier and work smarter. We practice what we preach.
To see more pictures from HCM’s Wellness Committee initiatives, click here.