It’s always so motivating to walk into a workplace genuinely dedicated to employee happiness and wellness. The minute I walked into CARFAX Canada (formerly CARPROOF) I could see their organization, led by their wellness committee, is passionate about creating robust programming and resources to address stress and mental health at work. Initially recommended by a mutual contact, Prana connected with Meredith Huffman, Accounts Receivable Coordinator & Wellness Committee Chair for our (RE)Boot Camp class. Since then, CARFAX’s relationship with Prana has expanded to include mindfulness sessions, meditation classes, and regular yoga classes.
We’ve been able to see many organizations and have come to recognize CARFAX as a corporate leader in the area of well being at work. Prana recently connected with Meredith, to learn more about how CARFAX promotes an environment of workplace wellness.
Prana: CARFAX Canada prides itself on “empowering its team to perform and grow.” What does empowerment mean to the organization and why has this been chosen as one of your core focuses?
CARFAX: We are a people-driven organization. In 2016, our goal was to introduce values driven by the employees: Be the Solution, Embrace Change, Commit and Deliver and Powered by Passion. We realize our team is our greatest asset, so we focus on empowering employees to seize opportunities to learn and grow. To support this, we’ve chosen to invest in the future of our employees with a comprehensive leadership training program and the creation of employee professional development budgets so employees can continually grow and develop new skill sets.
Prana: In addition to yoga classes with Prana, in what ways does CARPROOF invest in employee wellness?
CARFAX: We’ve aimed to implement a wide variety of strategies and initiatives, each different in focus, to provide a comprehensive array of wellness options. These offerings include, but are not limited to:
1. Mental Wellness: In 2015, several members of the Human resource team and myself participated in the United Way Mental Health in the Workplace (Implementing the Standard) pilot project. This was the fuel that we needed to propose the leadership team create a separate budget for mental wellness. We then used the Guarding Minds Survey to gather feedback from employees on how CARFAX was doing in regards to mental health.
In 2017 and 2018, the mental wellness committee & many from our middle management team became certified mental health first aid providers. We also have had a speaker series including powerful talks from speakers who suffer from or are recovering from mental health issues.
With 65% of our employees in favour, we also recently transformed a vacant office on our floor into a “quiet place” for our employees to go during the workday to recharge, relax, stretch or pray. We’ve coined this room the “Fox Zen” and have had regular bookings since our unveiling during 2018’s Mental Illness Awareness Week.
2. Physical Wellness: Perhaps one of the more visible ways that we promote a culture of wellness at CARFAX is the fresh fruit that we provide in our main kitchen every morning. We have worked with a London-based company for the past 3 years that supports local farmers and also gives back to the community by donating part of their proceeds to support school breakfast programs.
We have had a variety of subject matter experts come to CARFAX to speak including registered dietitians, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, sleep professionals, athletic trainers, and mindfulness coaches (Chantelle). This year, 40 employees also participated in biometric screenings, with a follow-up session with a qualified professional to explain what the numbers meant and how to enact lifestyle changes to improve their scores.
CARFAX also promotes physical health through our after work “boot camps,” yoga classes, and stair climbing and pedometer challenges.
3. Social Wellness: Our social committee plans and organizes everything from our seasonal sports teams to office game nights, watching games at Labatt park or Budweiser Gardens, costume parties for Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day (we celebrate every holiday on the calendar here), in-house ice cream days, the yearly golf tournament and our annual Holiday party
4. Career & Self-development: As mentioned previously, we offer leadership training for all employees. Due to high demand within our organization, courses that were once only open to people managers have been made available to the entire company. Staff also have their personal development budgets.
5. Work-Life balance: Work/life balance is continually top of mind for us at CARFAX Canada. We don’t hire employees; we hire people who have commitments, families and passions outside of the workplace. We recognize that sometimes we can all use a minute to take a brief pause and as mentioned above, this was why we felt the quiet room was so important for our employees.
6. Community/Global Wellness: In addition to the other committees listed, we have a separate Corporate giving committee that supports community and global wellness. Historically, we select one charity per year to focus all of our office fundraising activities around. In 2018, CARFAX chose the Make-A-Wish Foundation as our charity of choice. By July, the employees at CARFAX had raised $10,000 to send a little girl by the name of “Cordelia” to Disney land to make all her dreams come true.
All CARPROOF/CARFAX CANADA committees & employees also supported an employee who set out on a personal fund-raising initiative this past July. She walked a total of 221 km, with all proceeds raised going to support a local mental health initiative here in London, ON.
Additionally, this past September, we worked with Blood Services Canada to bring an in-house “blood typing clinic” to the London CARFAX office, followed by a group donation drive at a nearby blood donor clinic.
Prana: What has the impact of your investment in employee wellness been for employees and your organization?
CARFAX: Probably the most significant impact of our comprehensive wellness programs here has been in the culture that we have been able to not only create but maintain, despite immense growth and changes within the organization over the past few years.
From an ROI perspective, these types of wellness programs serve to both attract and retain key talent, as well as increase employee loyalty & productivity- the cost of which cannot be overstated in the increasingly competitive tech space. On an individual level, the feedback we’ve received has been very positive when it comes to our programming.
Prana: Are there any key learnings or takeaways CARFAX has discovered while implementing a corporate wellness program?
CARFAX: Yes! Aim to obtain the support from your executive team. If you are fortunate enough to have a senior leader(s) who is willing to “champion” your programming, or proactively communicate your ‘larger’ wellness initiatives, this will help when it comes to getting others at your organization on board. At CARPROOF, this is the kind of support that we are so fortunate to have. In my experience, it makes others stop and take notice when their leader(s) endorses it.
Prana: What advice would you offer to organizations who may still be hesitating about implementing a corporate wellness program?
CARFAX: As Nike would say, “Just do it!” The relative effort is small, but the impact is HUGE on workplace culture. When my human resource manager and I formed our Health & Wellness committee in 2013, our budget was tiny, but we were resourceful. We simply used what we had in terms of people, resources, and money to make a real impact on the culture here.
Start small by form a committee of like-minded co-workers who share your passion for “workplace wellness.” If your organization is like ours with multiple departments, attempt to recruit at least one committee member from each. I’d also suggest that you meet regularly- once per month is great, as we’ve found that it’s enough to keep the initiatives fresh and constant.
Gather feedback & use employee testimonials– If you want to keep program engagement high, be sure to survey your participants regularly -after each initiative if possible! Listen and learn from their feedback and be sure to ask them what impact(s) your initiative may have had on them. It has been our experience that employee testimonials are often all the motivation someone else needs to try to make a positive life change.
Be the catalyst for change at your organization– For others within your organization to believe in your wellness program, you- yourself must “walk the talk” and lead by example. If you are passionate about wellness and it is something you think your fellow employees could benefit from, start by sharing your best practices with them, the more visible, the better. For example, don’t be afraid to make your smoothies in the community kitchen- I’ve found that soon others will ask why you are doing it! Above all, share your story, struggles or knowledge because you never know whose life you might impact by doing so. 😊