When I asked Arlene Bliss, the Human Resources Coordinator at 5.11, about their employee wellness program she shook her head. “Any health initiatives or company-wide health awareness campaigns?” I asked. No again. Instead she began talking about the CEO Tom Davin. “He’s a health nut,” she explained.
5.11 is a tactical gear company that produces functional gear for law enforcement, military, firefighting professionals, and is currently expanding. 5.11 has participated in our Hoag Executive Health program and made an impression on us for their supportive approach to employee health. At their location in Irvine, California they host a gym equipped for 10 classes a week including Crossfit, TRX, yoga, and foam rolling to accommodate the diverse interests of their employees. Snack bars are arranged with filtered water, raw nuts, granola, and peanut M&M’s, though if Tom is around, he will ask you to think twice about the M&M’s. Fresh fruit is replenished daily in the employee kitchen. Employees are granted the option of standing and sitting throughout the day at their desks. Tom only stands. Meetings used to be strict, Arlene mentions, and only offered healthy foods. In the past couple of years this stance has changed to one of moderation and the company ensures that healthier options are always available, regardless of occasion. At the monthly birthday celebration in March, one of the rare moments the company indulges employees with desserts, ice cream was offered alongside dairy and calorie-conscious alternatives.
As Executive Assistant Amber Mirshafiee gave me a tour of their facilities and nearby store, I was struck by the subtlety of 5.11’s approach. Health is simply an integrated part of the larger company culture. Departments test out their own gear and sign up as a team for local races or mud runs when they feel like it. The state-of-the-art kitchen and gym compliment the open-plan office design. Walking the stairs with Amber to different floors went unnoticed by me until she pointed out its purpose.
When I returned to our own corporate office, walking the tunnel-like, empty, dirty stairwell that lay behind an unmarked door, up to the third floor, I thought, health doesn’t need to be a statement to work well. People with a variety of lifestyles have found unique ways to be healthy. When it comes to encouraging healthy employees, 5.11 demonstrates that working within the company culture may be the best strategy.
Health & Wellness Content Coordinator