The 2015 Best Places to Work
Check out all the categories in this year's Best Places to Work program.
If any industry is tuned in to the needs, desires, and overall well-being of its workforce, it’s the health and wellness industry.
Many of these companies go the distance for their employees to create an environment that is relaxing and inspiring. They provide free gym memberships, visits from massage therapists and chiropractors, and monthly deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables, and they’re generous with opportunities to work remotely. The healthy values they espouse are focused inward as well as outward.
1. Zen Planner
Location: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Number of Employees: 67
At Zen Planner, a software company that creates online management tools specifically for the fitness industry for tasks like scheduling, automated billing, and website marketing, employees are very much a part of the active community they serve. The passionate skiers, hikers, MMA fighters, CrossFit trainers, and everyday exercisers who show up at this bright, open office with views of the Rockies take full advantage of the company’s $100 per month gym stipend and sweet discounts at local studios that use their software, like Backcountry CrossFit, Highlands Ranch CrossFit, and Katharo Jiu-Jitsu.
The company organizes annual ski trips and barbecues, free healthy lunches every Friday, beer tastings, salsa-making competitions, and frequent extracurricular activities like stand-up paddleboarding. It also supports employee-recommended charitable events, such as WODs at their local CrossFit box that benefit a specific nonprofit.
“I think my mindset around what the workplace can be has totally shifted and been forever changed,” says Casey Steiner, director of talent and culture at Zen Planner. The businesses the company serves “are then able to spend more time with their customers, getting them hooked on life, health, wellness, and fitness. It’s a beautiful thing.”
2. The Honest Kitchen
Location: San Diego, California
Number of Employees: 37
When you walk into the Honest Kitchen, a light, airy loft in the historic Wonder Bread building in San Diego’s East Village, tails start wagging—everywhere. More than a dozen dogs hang out here on a daily basis. “I describe it as dog-centric, rather than dog-friendly,” says Lucy Postins, founder of the company, which produces all-natural, human-grade, whole-food meals for cats and dogs. “We believe our dogs are the absolute center of everything we do, and the day really revolves around them.”
For example, rather than sitting in a conference room to brainstorm ideas, team members often head outside with their pups for a 20- or 30-minute “walking meeting.” Organized group walks happen at least twice a day. And the pets aren’t the only ones who are happy. Employees enjoy plenty of perks like a monthly $40 fitness allowance, massages and chiropractor visits, organic fruits and veggies from a local CSA, weekly in-office doggy-and-me yoga classes, and shared bikes to ride around town. Mission Brewery also happens to be right down the hall, so beer-thirty is never far away.
3. Foothold Technology
Location: New York, New York
Number of Employees: 56
Foothold Technology works with more than 900 human service providers of every size and type across the country—mental health agencies, substance abuse centers, homeless shelters—to create and manage electronic health records for underserved populations. But it makes a point to make its own staff’s well-being an equally important priority. Foothold offers gym memberships, free lunches delivered from a different New York sandwich shop every Friday, and an annual active volunteer day where everyone ditches the office and completes a community project together (last year, they planted a garden and helped paint a school in Brooklyn).
About half of the company’s 56 employees work out of the Union Square headquarters, which includes treadmill desks, stand-up desks, stability ball chairs, and a bicycle desk to help keep everyone moving. “There are also plenty of people who work in New York for a couple years, and then say, ‘I want to work in Colorado or the Caribbean,’ and they pick up their phones and computers and do their jobs from anywhere,” says Nick Scharlatt, the company’s co-founder and chief marketing officer. “We try to provide a lot of flexibility in terms of how people work and where they work.” Everyone starts with 26 PTO days per year to be used when they want, and they get unlimited vacation after ten years.
4. Adaptive Sports Center
Location: Crested Butte, Colorado
Number of Employees: 16
Getting paid to ski, mountain bike, or kayak is generally not a bad gig. Being able to help others in the process is like fresh powder on top. The Adaptive Sports Center, a nonprofit offering a variety of outdoor activities to people with disabilities, gives every employee a year-round pass to Crested Butte Mountain Resort—so they’re rarely confined to a desk.
When workers do have to catch up on emails, it’s done in a dog-friendly main office located at the base of the ski area, meaning easy lift access. Group outings like morning “social skins” (ski up, then race back down), after-work runs that end with beers at the Brick Oven Pizzeria and Pub, weekly chili dinners, and end-of-season hikes are all part of the company’s work hard, play hard culture.
“We have clients who are completely blind-climbing fourteeners with us,” says Chris Henley, executive director at the center. “Even with what they’re dealing with, they’re still all smiles. It makes it hard to have a bad day.” Likewise, if it’s a powder day and you ski until noon, you can just work later to make up the hours you spent on the slopes. Bonus: The center has an arsenal of gear employees can tap to outfit their adventures.
5. Organic Valley
Location: La Farge, Wisconsin
Number of Employees: 811
Few large food companies can actually claim to be owned and operated by farmers, but Organic Valley is essentially a giant co-op that creates certified organic products sourced directly from its 1,800 farmer-owners across the country. “This is a group that really walks the walk in addition to talks the talk,” says Tripp Hughes, director of brand management. “Yes, you have to be profitable in order to give the farmers the returns they’re looking for and stay competitive, but as a co-op, we’re also able to make a lot of decisions based on ‘what’s the right thing to do?’”
Employees are tasked with managing and marketing the farmers’ crops, but they’re also encouraged to visit the company’s farms across the country and propose new sustainability practices, such as the company’s rideshare and “green bike” programs.
Sitting on the edge of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, company headquarters includes a well-subsidized organic cafe where company dinners are hosted regularly, an on-site gym, an employee garden, a mile-loop walking path, and bikes to ride at lunch. With a CEO who wears jeans and a flannel shirt to work, Amish buggies tied to hitching posts (seriously) out front, and cowboy hats lining a wall in the hallway, there’s definitely “an element of ‘fly your own flag’ here,” Hughes says.
6. Evoke at Entrada
Location: Santa Clara, Utah
Number of Employees: 85
Evoke at Entrada is a therapeutic wilderness program that places adolescents, young adults, and families dealing with personal struggles, such as mood disorders, depression, and substance abuse, in an outdoor setting for clinical treatment and adventure therapy. The field instructors, therapists, and psychologists who lead these out-in-the-wild camping sessions follow an eight-days-on, six-days-off schedule and can bring their dogs to work.
“Because of where we’re located—so close to some amazing rock climbing, mountain biking, the Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park—employees are able to travel and do really cool stuff during their off shifts,” says Rick Heizer, owner and executive director. Staffers are also inspired to “work on themselves in the process,” he adds. They have access to free therapy sessions, yoga classes, professional development training, weekly catered meals, and active group adventures like laser tag, mini-golf, and kickball games.
7. Beach Cities Health District
Location: Redondo Beach, California
Number of Employees: 73
The mission of the Beach Cities Health District, in Southern California, is simple: Improve the overall health and wellness of everyone—from babies to teenagers to the elderly—living in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Beach. The preventive health agency has been creating and providing myriad services and programs to the community since 1955.
“Unfortunately, the health care world is not usually known for how it takes care of its employees, but we know we’ve got to focus on them first before we can help anyone else,” says CEO Susan Burden. “BCHD is a pet-friendly, child-friendly environment where having fun is an important part of the day, people take breaks for their own physical health, and really creative, highly energetic people can help make the world a better place.”
The office features an open design and a large fitness facility with free small-group training sessions. Plus, there’s ample vacation time, lots of group volunteer opportunities (like working with the Special Olympics), and “purpose” workshops designed to promote greater professional satisfaction.
8. My Rounding Solutions
Location: Denver, Colorado
Number of Employees: 23
As long as you get your job done at My Rounding Solutions, a digital health company offering software that helps nurses and hospital administrators manage their rounds (hence the name), you’re free to hightail it out of Denver whenever you want.
But the perks at this cool Colorado startup don’t end at unlimited vacation. The young, active crew work at standing desks in the dog-friendly downtown office, get healthy lunches delivered regularly, and receive a monthly $50 ThrivePass to use at any gym or outdoor adventure program they like, plus a subsidized public transportation pass.
Employees lead weekly team runs and bike rides, take ski trips throughout the season, and play games in the office like Ping-Pong, pool, and Xbox. “One of the things that we wanted to ensure was that while we supplied the tools, structure, and foundation for the company, it was our employees who developed the culture,” says David A. Marshall, the chief operating officer who co-founded the company in 2013. “I love coming to work and seeing happy people.”
9. VAVi Sport & Social
Location: San Diego, California
Number of Employees: 35
Working at VAVi Sport & Social pretty much means you know somebody who knows somebody everywhere you go in Southern California.
As the West Coast’s largest sports and social club, the company organizes more than 600 coed adult sports leagues throughout San Diego and owns a few different national event series, like the Wipeout Run—so the company has tons of business partners. Translation: Employees get loads of freebies around town—gym memberships, concert tickets, unlimited sandwiches at a local deli, their name on club VIP lists, and an abundance of healthy snacks and beverages from sponsors like Bare Naked granola and Zico coconut water, to name a couple.
VAVi employees also get free registration in the company’s leagues and events. “I would say there’s always at least one VAVi team participating in something at any time,” says Keith Cunningham, vice president of events and sponsorship sales. “It is just part of the culture here.” But where its corporate goal to “bring fun to life” really hits home is with routine “runches” (lunch runs), a marathon training club, team-building events at places like Disneyland, and a boardroom that sees more Ping-Pong tournaments than meetings.
10. Usana Health Sciences
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Number of Employees: 746
As a direct sales company, Usana has employees drumming up business all over the country, but the nutritional supplement and health care product maker and supplier has an impressive home base as well: Its fitness facilities include a full-size basketball court, a beach volleyball court, a climbing wall, state-of-the-art cardio and strength equipment, and two on-staff personal trainers.
Team members at this family-friendly company can take advantage of flexible schedules, tuition reimbursement programs, weekly massages, and rotating group fitness classes (CrossFit, Barre, Zumba, yoga, etc.). The office’s Lean Cafe and vending machines are stocked with healthy food options. Workers also get rewards for participating in wellness programs. And if you work here, you will be well supplemented for life: Everyone receives a free monthly supply of vitamins, plus a $50 monthly credit and 50 percent off any additional Usana products they want.
“We try to create opportunities for our employees so there is a better work-life balance,” says Michael King, executive director of human resources. “We have these core values that we talk about and try to live up to. And the company is very set on making sure those values are real and not just something that we put up on a wall.”