Wellness Case Study: Google


It’s no secret that Google is good to its employees. In the last decade, the benefits of working at Google have become the stuff of legend. Google employees enjoy perks unheard of in many corporate environments, including above and beyond death benefits, on-site bowling and arcade machines, and free books. Although it’s not often stated so simply, these perks all have a central theme that makes the ultimate difference for “Googlers”: they exist for the good of the employees.

What Google demonstrates with its all-encompassing benefits package is that employee wellness is achieved with a well-rounded, expertly crafted effort to improve employee quality of life. Employee happiness is achieved through wellness, wellness is achieved through happiness, and ultimately, that happiness benefits everyone, including Google.

Keeping Employees Active

You may have heard about some of the quirkier, more eccentric ways that Google keeps its employees active. Slides that lead from upper floors to lower floors, secret ladders, scooters and ping-pong tables are just a few of the fun things you might find in a Google corporate office. While fun and amusing, these toys actually serve a very real and very useful purpose. By tempting employees to have fun in the office, Google is actually engaging employees and encouraging physical activity.

Google also keeps employees active in more traditional and overt ways. On-site gyms (or subsidized gym memberships), standing desks and reduced health insurance premiums for employees who exercise are all simple ways that Google pushes a healthy agenda and encourages employees to take care of themselves.

Encouraging A Healthy Diet

Google’s on-site cafeteria with free food and healthy snacks is practically world-renowned, possibly because the employees themselves can’t stop raving about them. Still, as Google feeds its workers, the company also makes an effort to shape their food choices in subtle ways.

In the salad buffet line at the cafeteria, healthy ingredients like fresh vegetables are in green containers, less healthy ingredients like croutons are in red containers. Cookies are made available along with healthy food choices like fresh fruit, but cookies are kept in opaque jars, while healthier choices are visible and obvious in transparent containers. Coincidence? Not at all.

What Can We Learn?

What are the lessons here? Google was worth 367.6 billion dollars as of May of this year. It’s clear that Google can afford to keep its employees healthy. So what can smaller companies learn from the Google example?

Many of Google’s most effective wellness initiatives are simple and achievable, even for small companies. Case in point: standing desks. Standing desks help employees burn calories while at work and encourage employees to stay active during the day.

Employees at Google have reported that their standing desks even promote team work and collaboration by making it easier to walk around the office and talk to other employees. Yet standing desks do not represent a major monetary investment. In fact, sitting desks can easily be converted to standing desks at a relatively low cost.

For smaller, less wealthy companies, employee wellness may seem like an unaffordable luxury, especially if you pay attention to reports about the Googleplex’s seven on-site fitness centers. Yet wellness is achievable for all companies. After all, nearly any company can afford to put cookies in opaque jars and bananas in clear jars.

If you’re hoping to extract more lessons from the Google example, contact HealthyWorks. We know employee wellness and we’re here to help you make it work, even on a budget much, much smaller than Google’s.