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Innovation spreads culture of well-being at work

Mary Barley and Heather Fuselier

Special to Tallahassee Democrat USA TODAY NETWORK - FLORIDA

How many awards, trophies, and plaques does your company have sitting in a cabinet or on a shelf in a conference room? How often do you take it down, dust it off, and celebrate that accomplishment and what it represents? At the accounting firm of Thomas Howell Ferguson P. A. CPAs, that happens more than you might expect.

Like every other company, THF spends time looking for outstanding employees in a very tight job market. Recruiting, developing and retaining outstanding talent is a top priority, as is employee engagement. For the growing accounting firm, participating in a local fitness challenge became an unexpected recruitment tool.

Two years ago, they offered their employees the opportunity to participate in the annual Working Well Corporate Cup Challenge, a multi-sport event held each year as a team-building and health awareness initiative for teams of coworkers or friends.

The winning team of the Corporate Cup Challenge gets to take a big, shiny, beautiful trophy, the Corporate Cup, back to their office for the year. They were thrilled that in their very first year, one of their teams won!

What they did next was unexpected, as well. Instead of putting their trophy on a shelf for a year, as all of the previous winning teams had done, the team of CPAs, which called themselves, “Let’s Get Fiscal,” decided to have a little fun. So, they took the trophy with them for a celebratory lunch. With their hard-won trophy in the middle of the table, they

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On Oct. 6, THF’s team, “Let’s Get Fiscal” won the Working Well Corporate Cup Challenge again. SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT


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got so much attention and started so many lively conversations that they decided to take it on the road everywhere they went that year.

They took it to an FSU Basketball game where the winning team was introduced on the court and had the opportunity to meet Charlie Ward.

They took it to their annual Insurance Conference at the beautiful Alfond Inn in Winter Park, where they were able to tell their story to the conference attendees. They displayed it at their annual Tax Freedom Day celebration where they were joined by clients and friends in the local community. And, they took it to their various recruiting days on campuses like Florida State University and the University of South Florida to engage students in conversations about their life outside of the office.

THF really enjoyed not only promoting their firm that year but showcasing how much our community cares about the health and well-being of our workforce, to encourage top talent to move to and invest in Tallahassee/Leon County. The genuine team spirit, authentic approach to work/life balance, and clear commitment to employee wellness has been an unexpected recruitment tool, helping the firm attract top talent and retain them longer.

There is science behind why this type of worksite wellness works. For years, corporate wellness was focused on what the employee could do to improve their health and well-being to make the organization better. But over time, research showed that an employee couldn’t go into a toxic work environment 40-60 hours a week and be happy, healthy and productive. There was just as much responsibility for the organization to create a “culture of health” to support the well-being of the employee so that they could bring the best of themselves to work every day.

The organization does this by creating an environment that fosters employee well-being, respect, trust, autonomy, appreciation and opportunities to advance while providing the resources and training to help their employees do their jobs effectively.

THF competed the next year and didn’t win, but on Saturday, Oct. 6, THF’s team, “Let’s Get Fiscal,” with a few new members, won the Corporate Cup Challenge again. So, their firm is off for another year of bragging rights as they celebrate their second win in three years!

Working Well, along with Gold’s Gym, puts on the Corporate Cup Challenge each year. The purpose of the event is to help organizations get their employees outside to be physical, have fun and do some team building! Working Well, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the overall health and well-being of the Tallahassee/Leon County workforce provides training, education and resources to help organizations create workplace well-being programs that target not only the employee but the employer as well.

Mary Barley is the executive director of Working Well. Heather Fuselier is a certified wellness coach and personal trainer.

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