Editor’s note: This is the final in a series on virtual wellness strategies.
Fitness classes at Pinterest’s luxe San Francisco headquarters are among the social media company’s most popular perks for employees. Yoga, aerobics and other classes are on offer so that workers can burn calories or downward dog to their heart’s delight.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit and employees went remote, Pinterest didn’t want workers to lose one of their favorite perks. “That’s one part of our benefits offering [that] employees really relied on and really enjoyed. We didn’t want to take that away because we couldn’t be in a physical office,” says Alice Vichaita, head of global benefits at Pinterest.
So the company turned to virtual class sessions offered via Zoom or Google Hangouts. “We set up reminders in our various Slack channels so we can remind [workers] 15 minutes before class starts, see it and join,” Vichaita explains. “We have a wellness calendar that people can opt into and see the programming coming up.”
In addition to its regular slate of offerings—yoga, meditation and so on—the company in early May added a weekly dance class for parents and their kids on Google Hangouts. It’s a move to help Pinterest’s working parent population—a group that’s especially struggling during the pandemic as they juggle taking care of work and their children simultaneously.
Pinterest is one of several employers turning to virtual fitness classes as the pandemic continues to force employees to stay home, away from their employers’ on-site fitness centers or missing out on gym memberships offered as a benefit.
Regina Ihrke, senior director and wellbeing leader, North America, at Willis Towers Watson, agrees that wellness components have intensified due to the pandemic. “Leaders have been bold in redefining their organization’s purpose and their commitment to the health and safety of their employees, families and customers, which has put a laser focus on wellbeing,” she says.
Research from the consulting firm finds that 60% of employers are offering new easy-to-implement virtual solutions, such as online workouts, to support employees who work from home. Another 19% are planning or considering these solutions. Meanwhile, half promote healthy nutrition and weight management for at-home employees, and 25% are planning or considering adding such programs.
See also: ‘Virtual wellbeing is here to stay’
In general, employers say moving fitness classes online and providing virtual wellness offerings is one way to enhance flexibility and help employees during an unprecedented time.
“We already are pretty flexible as a culture, but I think we learned to be even more flexible because everyone is going through different things,” Vichaita says. “There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all. We should lead with empathy and work with employees to see what works for their situation.”
For part 1 on Best Buy’s transition to virtual wellness, click here.
For part 2 on why virtual wellness is on the rise, click here.