Frontier’s Fitness Initiative: How we plan to tackle fitness in the workplace.

One undeniable truth is that a company’s greatest asset is its employees. This is something that we choose to strongly believe in. As such, we’ve implemented policies like flexible work hours (where employees can work at hours (or places) that suit them) and even a choice-based environment (where employees are empowered with self-management, rather than micro-management). However, in recent times, we’ve come to realise that because a lot of our work is sedentary, it leaves much to be desired in terms of staying healthy.

Our CEO, Amal Sanderatne, holds staying healthy as an important part of his life (and an important use of his time, for which Frontier’s flexible hours is a huge help to him!). Yet we realise that some of our policies to create a flexible work culture can work against a broader goal of having a healthier team.

For example, while most modern offices are hardly conducive to a healthy lifestyle, unless you make a conscious effort to be healthy, working from home will likely give you even less opportunity to hit the recommended level of physical activity as employees even lack the physical exercise derived from travelling to and from work. Working in your pyjamas may not be everything it’s cracked up to be, health-wise at least!

Furthermore, given our choice-based environment, our team members have the choice of how to use their time – what happens if they do not view health as being as important a use of time as our CEO? Yet, we understand that if this choice leads to an unhealthy team (as it very well could!), it would affect our underlying purpose of providing great work in a “life first” work environment.

However, we’re not the first to see these short-comings – other firms that believe in an open-culture, such as Aetana and 37 Signals, have taken to offering incentives to motivate employees to focus on their health. Frontier hopes to follow in their footsteps, with our own little twist. We don’t hope to become competitive with our health initiative – we’re not gunning for the “Fittest team in the country” award – we just want Frontier to be a better option than the alternatives our team members could have chosen, in this regard. We don’t want to push (read: force) team members into becoming healthier, instead we want to encourage them to do so. Our goal here is to be a positive driver for healthy living!

One of the ways we’re looking to do this is through something we call T-Pay. This is a form of “bonus” (but we don’t really like that word, so let’s call it T-pay, that’s T for Thrive/Training). This can be considered a sum of money that Frontier will give team members to spend on their health. However, this is a relatively new concept to us as well, so it’s going to need some more planning in terms of budgeting, transparency and how we’re going to handle the payment (i.e. either cash or incentives like subsidized gym memberships).

Even though we haven’t figured out the mechanics of T-pay yet, we’ve taken our first baby step in our health initiative. We’ve planned to have some group sessions with a professional trainer and even had our first session just last month. Our team, all geared up in sportswear with exercise mats on tow, headed to the infamous Torrington. This baby step turned out to be an eye opener for many. The lunges turned out to be not as easy as lounging. Post all the complaints of cramps and hate towards the trainer, the team realized that they were not as “young and strong” as they thought (quite to the shock and dismay of Amal). We also realized that getting a medical check beforehand and planning it out as appropriate to each person maybe a better way to start, given the varied levels of fitness in the team.

But overall most team members realized they would need to put in a lot more hours to avoid future adverse implications to their health. All in all, it served as a good first start and provided the team the motivation to keep at it.

We continue to be inspired by a new global movement of businesses who are all passionate about re-defining work so that it helps people thrive, and a healthy team would be a key part of it.

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