Thursday, September 12, 2013

Employer adds yoga, dance and fun to retain workers

Often the little things can make a difference in how an employee feels about a workplace.
Maybe the boss ensures that you get your favorite color of nail polish at holiday time. Maybe you can bring your dog to work. Or, maybe the culture asks you to do kind things for other people.
Michele Litzky does all those things and more when it comes to trying to keep her workers happy. Celebrating her 25th year running Litzky Public Relations in Hoboken, N.J., Litzky believes offering a smorgasbord of perks is what keeps her nearly all female staff smiling and says, "Happy employees mean happy customers."
So Litzky lets workers shove furniture around in the conference room at 5 p.m. twice a week for a yoga instructor who soon has up to 15 workers on the floor going through downward facing dogs and backbends.
"One of the things we encourage is that we're all equal here," which means a senior leader may be on the floor twisting and turning on a yoga mat right next to an intern, she says.
"We want to help them handle stress, and we encourage them to do the things they love," Litzky says. "It also gives them a chance to develop a camaraderie and a chance to network with one another."
She also welcomes Libby, the office mutt, who often is featured on the company's holiday card and adds to the fun atmosphere that Litzky wants to cultivate.
It must be working. Employee Kaylie Nelson says it's indeed a fun place to work. But she says that leadership also is serious about coaching and mentoring staff.
In public relations, workers often leave an employer every couple of years, but Nelson has stayed put for five years. And that's not uncommon at the agency that has clients such as Hasbro.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time here I'm having a blast," Nelson says. "People might think that with all these women they'd be catty or competitive, but that's a stereotype. We bounce ideas off each other all the time."
Informal brainstorming sessions are made easier with the office's open concept floor plan, which also has a floor-to-ceiling view of New York through the windows, Litzky says.
As for the perks, Litzky says they are often a revolving door of ideas.
As part of the 25th year celebration, the staff is doing "25 acts of kindness" that includes helping coach children to enter the Special Olympics or making goodies for local firefighters. Employees also have "summer Fridays" that rotate among employees to allow a staffer to take off at 1 p.m. Friday to extend weekends during the summer months, she says.
Since public relations agencies often work months in advance and the staff has been busy working on holiday themes, they recently each wore the worst holiday sweater they owned and brought in their favorite holiday treat to share.
One of the best indications Litzky has had that her company provides the right culture to engage workers is a video that the staff made to recruit new employees. Set to Carly Rae Jepson's Call Me Maybe, the staff urges others to apply.
"I knew nothing about it. But I saw it and just loved their energy," Litzky says. "I was just so proud of all of them, and it was a great message to me that people are flourishing in this culture."
That doesn't mean that the firm hires only those who can dance in music videos.
"We have fun, but we work hard. We are very (read more here)

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