From a Warehouse to a Wellness Program

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Each January our company gathers as a whole to reflect on the year that was and plan for the year ahead. But this January was especially different. We weren’t just planning for 2015. We were resetting our business with a new mentality, preparing for our change to MainSpring.

During our fireside chat session, I laughed as I listened to MainSpring CEO Marshall Micheals tell us stories about how it used to be in IT. He gave us the visual of competitors sitting around a conference room table, praying for a server to crash so they could bill a client. Long gone are those days when IT companies profited most if things went wrong.

He talked about honesty, integrity, the age of consultancy, forming true partnerships with clients, and how we’ve always managed to stay ahead of the trends and align ourselves with our clients’ goals. It’s true. I’ve personally seen it evolve over the last 16 years. His stories reminded me that our company has always been on the leading edge of that same evolutionary trend line.

Beginning in 1993 as a network cabling firm called Corporate Network Services, we’ve always had a knack for anticipating the needs of our clients and employees. By 2005, we were already providing many employee benefits comparable to a much larger firm and our client network services were evolving into managed services. The waning market for the original network cabling resulted in the gradual disbanding of our Cabling Services Group. Eventually, we were left with a 1600 sq. ft cabling warehouse filled to the roof with equipment, supplies, shelves and racks.
I remember thinking that most companies would just back up the dumpsters to the door to unload the old equipment, but Marshall had a better idea.

We reduced, reused and recycled the technology by selling and donating items to cabling suppliers, clients and neighbors. A good percentage of the warehouse went to our former cable engineering team, helping them start their own cabling company whom we later subcontracted. It seemed like a small gesture at the time, but we made a pronounced impact by simply doing the right thing.

That effort resulted in the company being recognized with the 2006 Alliance for Workplace Excellence (AWE) award, and from there the dominos fell. The company won the Workplace Excellence award that year and for the next eight years.

For years previous we gave employees free flu shots, supported a less fortunate family through the holidays and rewarded client and employee referrals. We began using the AWE resources as guidelines for further improvements. Soon we were regularly shredding and recycling our sensitive papers, conserving water, replacing high energy light bulbs, laying bamboo flooring in offices, using low VOC paint, having health fairs, weight challenges, making in-kind and cash donations and volunteering at non-profit farms and food collection centers. Once you gain that mindset it tends to inform all sorts of decisions.

When the AWE later added Eco-Leader and the Health and Wellness Trailblazer awards we applied, won and continue to win all three awards.

Wellness, community and connections

In 2011, we formally branded our Wellness Counts, Connections Count and our Community Counts programs to show partners and employees we were committed long-term. We continued to tell our stories and win various best place to work, healthiest employer and corporate volunteer awards from Washington Business Journal, Washingtonian Magazine and the Corporate Volunteer Council.

Last year we were impressed by the collective efforts of our fellow Washington Business Journal Healthiest Employer Award winners. We knew that with the evolution of our firm, now MainSpring, we needed to ramp up our game for our wellness, community and connections programs to stay ahead. That gave birth to a new initiative called Make it Count.

Make it Count

As we looked at these Counts initiatives individually, a common theme appeared, harking back to the warehouse days—inspire others to do the right thing.

The challenges then aren’t the same as today though. Our employees and partners are spread thin for time and geographically dispersed across many states. Rallying an organization around a single event or cause is often expensive and a logistical nightmare. So how do we make it go?

Our employees volunteered. They formed a committee who created the Make it Count program. The program’s mission is to inspire others to be well, give back and make connections matter. The approach is to make it incredibly simple, fun and worth everyone’s time to participate.

We’ve come a long way from that overflowing warehouse. But following the MainSpring legacy of evolution we are very excited to begin the year. Our revitalized Make it Count committee will be shepherding the firm’s efforts to engage clients, employees, community members and partners to take greater ownership of their own wellness, involving everyone in giving back and making valuable connections that help everyone grow.

I’m looking forward to sharing our stories and new ideas that you may put to good use.