Nearly five years ago, approximately 40 employees at AssuredPartners’ Lexington, Kentucky, office raced around the building in their desk chairs, hustled up stairwells and participated in other unusual activities for the right to win “medals” – which were actually small plastic condiment cups spray-painted gold, silver and bronze.
Outsiders may have shaken their heads and wondered if their eyes were deceiving them, but AP’s Lexington employees knew there was a good reason they were having such a good time.
“It was Wellness Week and we were doing our take on the ‘Office Olympics,’” says Stephanie Parish, an account executive for employee benefits at Assured Partner’s Lexington office. “We are a pretty competitive bunch here, so things got serious.”
The Office Olympics back in 2015 were a nod to an episode of the popular and long-running NBC sitcom “The Office,” in which the show’s characters create games using items found around their workplace. But the impetus for the competition wasn’t to pay homage to a popular television show, it was to inspire healthier living among the workforce. Wellness Week was instituted at the corporate level in 2015 and local branches were authorized to create their own theme and activities – thus opening the door for Lexington’s Office Olympics.
“Everybody enjoyed it,” says Parish, who is also a member of AssuredPartners’ Wellness Leader Team. “People kept their medals and displayed them on their desks for a long time.”
Wellness Week grew to be one of the most anticipated events of the year, according to Parish. The themes and collaborating with fellow members of the engagement team are what Parish enjoys most.
She praised the theme of 2018’s “Out of this World,” which featured a “cosmic cornhole” tournament, scavenger hunt and the “Lexington Moonwalk” — the latter being an activity that encouraged employees to take 15-minute walking breaks periodically throughout the day.
The 2019 incarnation of Wellness Week was known as the “AP Super Squad” and was superhero themed. One of the most popular activities was a Zumba class dubbed the “Batman Boogie.” An employee at the office is a certified Zumba instructor and led the program.
Those looking for a less intense activity had the option of participating in a yoga class, and all employees were invited to wear their favorite superhero shirt, try a healthy “Super Smoothie” and low-fat sandwich wrap, Parish says.
Every day of the week had a different activity and to encourage daily participation employees receive a raffle ticket for each event they attended. At the end of the week a drawing was held, and employees were eligible to win health-related items including an exercise ball, wrist weights and yoga mat.
Parish estimates that more than two-thirds of Lexington’s 65 employees participated in Wellness Week this year.
“I think we had a really good turnout. In this business you have a lot of people out in the field bringing in business, so to have that amount of participation was really impressive,” she says. “Wellness Week is an awesome idea and everyone loves it.”
In addition to the health benefits, Wellness Week helps build camaraderie in the office, Parish said.
“It’s a great team-building exercise because you interact with people you may not normally see,” Parish says. “Our employees are spread throughout two different floors so there are people you don’t see or talk to on a regular basis.”
Wellness Week isn’t the only time the Lexington office focuses on healthy living. Parish explains the office has frequent tai chi and yoga classes throughout the year.
“We have a big conference room and people will put on a tai chi video or set up their yoga mat,” she says. “It’s a great way to get some exercise while at work.”