Putting Our Best Foot Forward: Wellness At ustwo
Back in February, I had the pleasure of spending a week in our Malmö studio for a team summit. As I arrived bright and early for our regularly scheduled Monday Morning Meeting, I was greeted by not only a full, delicious spread of Nordic breakfast items, but the news that this week was a special one: It was Wellness Week.
With a health coach they’d brought in for the week, the team kicked off our morning with light stretches to get us ready for the day, and were treated to yoga classes, raw food lunches, a talk about the future of food, smoothies, and more throughout the next few days. At the end of the week, we topped it off with a feel-good team social, complete with dancing, personal pizzas, and of course, a few dozen studio-wide round-robin table tennis tournaments.
The truth is, this isn’t uncommon for ustwo. Team and employee wellness is paramount, not just in Malmö, but in all our studios. Across the world, we’re constantly encouraging our team to take the best care of themselves as they can both mentally and physically, and helping them out along the way. Here are some examples of what goes on in each of our studios to ensure the wellbeing of our team.
In addition to the extraordinary medical and health benefits that each ustwo studio offers, London provides flexible benefits for both ustwobies and their immediate family. For example, once you’ve been with ustwo London for a year, you have the option to select free gym membership as part of this program.
They’re also in the process of organizing an occupational health assessor to ensure they’re optimizing the studio’s environment to support postural health, which is one of the worst culprits of back, neck, and shoulder pain in today’s working world. This is also the reason why London offers fortnightly massages to everyone.
Outside of the studio, ustwobies can participate in Sports Wednesday, which includes break-out sessions for yoga, boxing, and football. They also have active rock climbing, running and cycling communities within the team, who arrange regular activities and outings that anyone and everyone is welcome to join. Even our co-founder Mills has taken on the London Marathon, with every ustwobie across the world supporting and cheering him on.
But physical health is only half the battle, and if you’ve seen our apps Moodnotes and PAUSE, you’ll know that mental health is equally as important to our team. This is why London recently ran a pilot group through a resilience program, which was based on mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Essentially, this program looked at your mind like a muscle that needs to be exercised / strengthened to improve your ability to make enhanced life choices, and it was highly successful. Digital products aren’t the only arena we like to experiment in.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the Malmö studio already this year has celebrated and executed an amazing Wellness Week, complete with health coach, raw lunches, smoothies, yoga, and more. But this is just the tip of the iceberg for our Nordic studio.
Each ustwobie in Malmö has a budget of ~$480 USD per year to spend on personal health and wellness. With this allowance, they can choose to have monthly massages, pay for a gym membership, join a sports team, etc. It’s completely flexible to their needs and lifestyle.
If you live in Sweden, you know that most people already bike to work on a daily basis, and our studio has a shower to accommodate those who need it. But the Malmö team also have an amazing array of activities and sports that anyone can participate in, including football every Monday night, long-distance cycling, Fussball (although admittedly as an American I have no idea what that is, but it sounds amazing), and of course, there’s a ping pong table in the studio for round robin tournaments or one on one get-your-blood-pumping action after that afternoon fika.
As you can imagine, my home studio of New York boasts some pretty wonderful benefits as well. Like all the others, New York offers extracurricular sports, activities, and outings that everyone is welcome to join, including a seasonal soccer team, archery, rock climbing, yoga, cycling (courtesy of a free CitiBike pass if you don’t own a bike), and of course, a studio ping pong table to cure those midday lulls.
This past month in New York, we celebrated Wellness Month, where we had yoga classes, chiropractic sessions, potluck salad lunches, extended massages (which we usually get monthly anyway), lunchtime cycling adventures, and so much more. Our head of people also introduced an array of new health benefits which would extend beyond wellness month and become part of our standard benefits package.
One of these benefits is that each New York ustwobie has the choice of expensing up to $20 a month for a membership to the gym or fitness studio of their choice, including ClassPass if they choose, or, they can join the New York Health & Racquet Club where we have a discounted rate. We’ve even got a shower in the studio for midday exercising.
Another was created for those wanting to quit smoking. These individuals are now able to expense up to $40 per month for the purchase of quitting aids, such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum, for up to 6 months.
Last, but certainly least, it’s worth a mention that ustwo New York is a founding member of Pledge Parental Leave, which is a campaign setting a standard for parental leave benefits in the creative industry. When we came up with the concept in November of 2015, little did we know that a few months later when we launched, we’d have 11 industry titans by our side, and together we’re all working to expand our reach and add more companies.
Pledge Parental Leave unites companies that guarantee at least 3 months of fully paid leave for primary care givers (at ustwo we offer 4), 3 months of fully covered medical benefits (here again, ustwo offers 4), a 6 months guarantee that their position will be kept open, and a commitment to publishing their parental leave policy online for anyone to see.
We may be starting small, but in a country without government mandated leave, and an industry notorious for horrible work/life balance, we’re hoping to tip the scales in the right direction, one company at a time.
Our newest and smallest studio down under offers not only the same amazing medical and health coverage synonymous with every ustwo studio, but they also offer free in-studio massages for each employee. Additionally, the Sydney studio has two member vouchers for a nearby pool that anyone can use.
But one of the greatest things about being an austwobie (Hah! Get it?) is that they regularly host studio socials, events, and activities that take full advantage of the incredible and rugged Australian outdoors. From hiking, to Zorb Ball, to surfing, to kayaking, our Sydney team may be the most healthy (and lucky) of us all.
So as you can gather, each ustwo studio, while they have their own flavors, cultures, and benefits, takes incredible care of our family. If any of the above sounds like something you’d like to take advantage of on a daily basis (and let’s face it, who wouldn’t?) you’ll be happy to know that we’re growing and hiring at the speed of light. You’ll be in that massage chair before you know it.