Technogym Wellness – More Than a Message
Where do I start when giving an account of the Technogym wellness philosophy? I could call it revolutionary, groundbreaking and unique, but those are superlatives dished out so frequently they have lost (some) of their meaning.
Technogym are so much more than that, as I found out first hand. The most appropriate title for them is their strap line… ‘The Wellness Company’.
I recently visited the Technogym Wellness Village to witness the Technogym experience first hand. I was taken to see the inner working of the company – their brand, their philosophy and their actions.
They didn’t disappoint.
Technogym is company that lives it’s philosophy of wellness. From the president to the cleaners, the entire company is on message. I will discuss wellness more in future posts, but for now will focus on the Wellness Village and Technogym as an employer.
The amazing Technogym wellness village is littered with cute reminders for staff, suggesting they use the stairs rather than the lift. The food in the on site canteen is organic, local and freshly prepared by a team of chefs every day. There are no individual tables – the seating arrangement is benches only, designed to foster friendships amongst staff.
The building is light, airy and eco-friendly. This is the head office of company with annual profits in excess of £300 million but the place has an almost eerie tranquility – stress doesn’t exist at Technogym.
Technogym management policy backs up the wellness ethos – staff are allowed up to 2 hours to exercise, eat and shower at lunch. Two hours! Staff aren’t just allowed to exercise – they are encouraged.
The whole company is built on a foundation of Wellness. My guide told me the senior management team have data complied over years that prove a fitter, healthier workforce has reduced sickness absence, improved productivity and a healthier work/life balance.
To assist their fitness programming, workers are assigned a Wellness Key – a device unique to Technogym which tracks and stores their workout data. They can monitor their data over time or compare themselves to their colleagues, but more on that in a later post.
The on-site gym facilities are world class, as you would expect from the manufacturer of some of the worlds best exercise equipment. The staff gym doubles as an equipment showroom where potential clients are taken to see the equipment in real life – a far more visceral experience than viewing equipment via a catalogue.
The potential customers get to use the equipment and put themselves in the position of their members. Whilst we were there customers from the UK, Japan and America were toured and suitably impressed.
The huge gym is fitted with every range that Technogym stock. With the top-end Italian design and functionality, the kit makes you want to train. Being surrounded by the very best in gym equipment means motivation can’t be a problem the staff suffer with! Even on days when motivation lags, at Technogym I’m sure you’d find a colleague to motivate you!
There are friendly sports competitions between the staff, including Basketball and Volleyball. There are outdoor Tai Chi sessions taken on the decking and a half-marathon length track built around the facility. The gym is staffed with personal trainers giving advice based on scientific study from the in house research and development centre within the building. It really is a hub of wellness.
They have created and fostered a working environment in which health is allowed to flourish. In the modern days of work stress and pressure, going to work to improve your health is completely alien.
Even the offices create wellness. From the glass walls that allow a natural sunlight to pass through them to the bowls of fresh fruit in each, they ooze tranquility and a distinct lack of stress. These offices are a creative environment – they don’t feel like a place of work. I’m a big believer in environment shaping people and culture so this really resonated with me.
There are no chairs, just wellness balls. The wellness ball is a patented Swiss ball with a double-density foam towards the base, making it more stable than the typical Swiss ball you would see in the gym. The wellness balls are covered with a washable material to protect your clothing and provide a handle with which to carry the ball with.
Sitting on the wellness ball is a unique experience. Without doubt, there is far more core engagement and a requirement to improve your posture. Of course you can still slouch on the ball, but it’s not as easy as a normal chair. Research shows there is 66% more trunk movement on the ball and that people are far more likely to move around when on the ball as opposed to a normal chair, further improving back health.
As I toured the 150,000 square metre site I made a point of looking at the staff – what are they like when the ‘camera’ is off and they don’t have to be the smiling, happy face of a company? The answer is…exactly the same. The passion for the company they work for isn’t forced – it is felt genuinely which is what impressed me the most. You can’t buy that, nor can you manufacture it. You have to earn it.
Their buy-in to the philosophy is genuine. They work for a company that provides them with an unrivalled working environment, a culture in which they are encouraged to make suggestions of improvement and see their suggestions rewarded if they are good. They get to eat seasonal, local organic food for 1.50€ (£1.20). They have to access to a world class gym that beats any top-end commercial gym hands down.
You don’t build a business with annual revenues of over £300 million without working hard. That being said, the wellness philosophy is about balance. Work hard, but then recover well. It is the message that the owner and founder of Technogym, Nerio Alissandri preaches today. I met him briefly and a quick chat, he ended with “be wellness” – clearly the message he lives by.
As I left the Technogym Wellness Village I felt myself thinking with disappointment about the businesses I am familiar with in the UK. Businesses I have worked for or have friends in may give out the company mission statement, but the buy-in rarely stretches beyond the senior management. I work for myself, but people I know with jobs rarely, if ever, seem to feel genuinely invested in or appreciated by their employer.
With a growing resentment towards increasing working hours, I wonder how the health, happiness and productivity of a work force would be increased if senior management adopted a few of the principles of wellness in their businesses?
I am not suggesting businesses need to adopt every single principle of wellness practiced by Technogym, but some of the tips would be so easy to implement with just a little bit of championing from a well-informed employee. I will write more on this subject in the coming days.
The combination of a genuine commitment to wellness, elegant Italian design and fantastic modern architecture make the Technogym wellness village unlike anywhere else. I have been inspired, educated and had my beliefs that a workplace can be healthy reinforced.
I know it can. I’ve seen it.
For more information on Technogym and the Wellness Village, take a look at their website…Technogym.
By the way, if you enjoyed this post on Technogym the wellness company, check out the follow up article where I discuss the concept wellness further….What is Wellness?
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