VelocityEHS is on a mission to help companies become safer and more sustainable, and that starts with upholding its own employees’ wellness. The organization encourages its people to build work around their lives — not the other way around.
In addition to providing wellness resources like Bright Breaks and Modern Health, VelocityEHS hosts bimonthly physical fitness initiatives that help employees connect with one another over a shared passion and invest in their own wellness.
Director of Employee Experience and Culture, Molly Thompson, shares why flexibility is a win, how community grows through fitness and which values fuel their wellness culture on an episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast.
Over the past few years, workers’ demands for flexibility have radically changed how leaders think about employee wellness. But for VelocityEHS, the well-being of employees has always been top of mind.
The environmental, health and safety software company is remote-first, with around 600 employees across five countries. Over the years, VelocityEHS has acquired numerous smaller, family-run businesses with strong cultures of caring about one another. This value carried over to VelocityEHS as a whole.
In her role as Director of Employee Experience and Culture, Molly Thompson oversees wellness initiatives and events that fuel the company’s culture of family and support for its employees. On an episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast, I talked to Molly about the company’s views on flexibility, its thriving fitness culture and the values that keep everyone connected.
Building Work Around Life
Visit the VelocityEHS careers page and you’ll learn about “Work for All,” the company’s philosophy of remote-first work. The organization went from having multiple U.S. offices to remote work early on in the pandemic. But as company leadership heard feedback that employees didn’t want to return to the office, they decided to embrace a more flexible approach for good.
“[We wanted to] allow employees to build work around their lives, not the other way around,” Molly explains. “We understand that all of our employees are full people with full lives and a lot of responsibilities.” For example, caregivers often need the space to carry out the responsibilities of parenthood during the day alongside their work. Individuals with disabilities may not be able to work in a traditional office space for traditional hours, and anyone might need to attend a mid-day doctor’s appointment.
By remaining remote, VelocityEHS allows individuals the flexibility they need. While employees’ roles may require them to be online at certain times, the company focuses more on getting work done and achieving Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) than being seated at one’s desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Molly explains that VelocityEHS doesn’t think it’s sustainable for employees to grind at their desks in an office five days a week, citing physical and mental well-being as two key reasons. “I just don’t think humans are designed to live that way,” she says. “We want to create a model that will allow them flexibility to build the life they want.”
The Wins of Flexibility
Of course, allowing employees to build work around their lives on their terms benefits the staff. But it’s also a win for the business. The Work for All philosophy has driven retention value for VelocityEHS — because employees appreciate the unique flexibility they have to do their work, they’re more inclined to stay with the company.
This approach to a remote culture has also helped VelocityEHS attract and hire skilled team members by increasing the diversity of its talent pool. Research has shown that women and people of color are seeking remote opportunities more than their counterparts. As a remote-first company, VelocityEHS can access these diverse talent pools that are most eager for flexible working environments, even if they don’t live near a physical office location.
The Initiatives Behind a Wellness Culture
On top of offering radical flexibility to its employees, VelocityEHS promotes wellness through various initiatives designed to support its staff.
Employees can use Bright Breaks to take seven-minute wellness breaks during their workdays. The company also offers access to Modern Health, a mental health platform offering various modalities of care, from online modules and discussion groups to counseling and coaching.
But Molly is especially proud of the fitness initiatives employees take part in. She started what is now called “Jan Plan” as a company effort to focus on physical, mental, and financial health in January. The initiative caught on with immediate participation and interest from employees and grew into bi-monthly fitness challenges. “It’s a great universal interest and hobby for people to connect on,” Molly says. Because her team primarily measures the success of wellness initiatives based on attendance and participation, the fitness challenges have been a clear home run.
Case in point: Their September fitness challenge was WWE-themed with five teams company-wide. Employees are so passionate about the fitness initiatives that individuals were quick to volunteer for leadership positions heading up these teams — Molly didn’t even have to ask them to step up. “We just have a lot of employees who are super supportive of the culture, and it makes my job easy.”
How the VelocityEHS Values Reflect Wellness
VelocityEHS has five values throughout the employee lifecycle, and Molly says that two, in particular, contribute to the company’s wellness culture.
The first value is “build honest and open relationships,” and the fitness initiatives allow employees to do exactly that. “[Wellness] is a personal journey … but it’s a community philosophy,” Molly explains.
The fitness community at VelocityEHS — or “Fit Fam,” as they call it — allows employees to connect with coworkers they’ve never met across teams, functions and departments. In a remote-first company, building relationships requires proactivity and intention, and a shared interest in wellness forges those connections.
The second value that plays into the wellness culture is “make a difference.” VelocityEHS has a mission to help other companies be more sustainable and focus on their employees’ health and wellness. If their goal is to make a difference in other people’s lives, it makes sense that that work would start at home with the 600 people who make VelocityEHS’s mission a reality.
Molly’s Parting Advice: Just Do It
Molly knows from experience how intimidating it can be to change a company culture or even create an initiative from scratch. Her advice to others working on wellness is simple: Start small. She recommends just doing something, especially if it’s a light lift like bringing in a wellness speaker. At VelocityEHS, Jan Plan started as a small initiative that sparked a wide range of other resources and activities.
She also encourages being open to feedback. “There’s no bad ideas or bad suggestions,” she says. “You’re the company’s suggestion box. So [be] open to that and [roll] with it, whatever that feedback is.” When you start with what employees want and need — and grow from there — you never know where your efforts will lead.
This article is based on an episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast by Bright Breaks, the platform that boosts workplace wellness seven minutes at a time. Want more insights on HR strategies for a happy, healthy and connected workforce in a work-from-home world? Subscribe to the Virtual Vibe podcast, and tune in wherever you listen to your favorite shows.