Business of Well-being

Wellness is Prime Real Estate at Keller Williams

Managing a wellness program is never easy given the perceived involvement into the personal lives of your employees. It is even harder when the employees are spread across the globe. This is the obstacle facing Keller Williams Realty and their Wellness Manager, Alex Garland. With 175,000 associates located in over 900 market centers across America, Europe, Africa and Asia, managing a wellness program of this magnitude can present unique dilemmas.

Corporate Wellness Magazine was able to speak with Alex to discuss how Keller Williams leads a wellness program that spans the globe, what a global challenge looks like, how they are integrating wearable devices into their plan.

Corporate Wellness Magazine: Can you provide a brief overview of wellness programming at Keller Williams?

Alex Garland:

One of the founders of the company, Gary Keller, created the wellness program in 2013 and is still very enthusiastic to this day. In our previous corporate headquarters, he outfitted the office with gym equipment and a personal trainer. When we moved to a new office space, I was brought on board as wellness manager to help further support the program.

Regarding our associates, we started marketing and working with them a few years ago to increase productivity and help create lives worth living - which is one of the mottos of our program. Most of the participants are our associates, but we also encourage them to involve their families as much as possible. We also have wellness ambassadors who work to drive engagement across our market centers. Our programming varies. We do everything from supporting community events to hosting regular lunch-and-learns.

For example, at our headquarters is in Austin, Texas we support a local charity called Run for the Water that raises money for clean drinking water in Burundi. Aside from a great cause, they also offer a" global run" meaning our associates across the globe can participate as well. We also host events throughout the year, such a wellness day every April. We ask our associates to take a few hours out of their day to do something wellness-minded like taking a walk, eating a healthy lunch or doing yoga.

We also plan a myriad of other events in our market centers like wellness fairs. We enable our remote offices to take the information we provide from headquarters and tailor it to meet the needs of their unique environment so we can engage their families and clients where they are. Our new Fitbit collaboration allows us to do this at an even higher level. We're inviting our associates to come and participate in wellness challenges throughout the year. Some of those wellness challenges will be regional, and some will be at their location. Our wellness ambassadors help facilitate that throughout the organization.

CWM: Does the wellness program provide the Fitbit devices or do employees contribute their own?


Currently, employees supply their own. Some market centers may decide to purchase devices for their entire market center, however. A few years ago, for example, our President bought Fitbits for all employees who attended our annual "Family Reunion" which is one of our most popular events. Our staff at headquarters were also fortunate enough to have devices supplied to them, but not our associates in the field. We encourage our market centers to provide Fitbits. Otherwise, associates are purchasing their own devices or can use a Fitbit they had previously.

CWM: Does it have to be a Fitbit or can they use other devices?


Fitbit is the only device supported by the platform.

CWM: Why did you select Fitbit over another device?


After speaking with them, we felt that we were on the same level regarding innovation and integration. We have had successful relationships with them in the past and were familiar with how they helped other companies learn more about their metrics. Also, many of our associates already owned one.

Metrics drive our company. Our initiatives center on analytics. So, being able to track this information coupled with the ability to step back and take a broader look at our global population will give us a better idea of how we can better serve our people based on their actual data. We are not looking at every individual's data, but the aggregated metrics to see the overall health trends.

CWM: How has the data you acquired changed the program? How have you used the information?


We began rolling out the program in January of 2018, and that will also be when we hold our first challenge. Therefore, we don't have any data yet. We are looking forward to seeing what we obtain, however. We can see active minutes, total steps, cumulative sleep, etc. We look at wellness at Keller Williams holistically. We want to be able to support our employees at every level.

Are people active? Are they sleeping well? We want to look at all of the factors that affect health, and not just have associates running a 5k. We look at how we integrate and help people at every level of fitness and support them in their daily lives.

CWM: Do you provide incentives of any kind for participation in the program?


It varies from market center to market center. We have incentives for employees who work at headquarters, and we encourage our market centers to offer them as well. We operate a program that was rolled out in 2017 called Be Well, where participants earn points by performing wellness-minded activities which will integrate with the Fitbits in the coming year.

The most prominent incentives at Keller Williams, however, are bragging rights. If you have not met our associates, you don't know how deep that goes; bragging rights are supreme. We are looking forward to seeing who is leading the pack in the future.

CWM: What do you hope to accomplish with the Fitbit program?


To raise health awareness among our associates. People cannot improve their well-being without first being aware of where they are. This knowledge extends back to the Be Well program, where we provide incentives for getting a blood test, going to preventative exams, and meeting with your primary care physician. Like in the Real Estate industry, knowing your numbers is critical. You need to take your data, create goals and then work to reach them.

That is how people change and improve.Our market centers will take these programs and adapt them for their population. There may be a global challenge, but the centers will set their own goals for their location. We are looking to provide associates with more knowledge about their current health status, where their numbers should be and ultimately how to get there.

CWM: Do you have any advice for people developing their wearable device program?


First, you need support from the top. The fact that we have our founder Gary Keller and CEO John Davis supporting us is enormous. We are not looking for people to run a marathon - just to participate on some level. Having leadership support drives the message that health is essential throughout the organization. We are very fortunate that we have one of our busiest events coming up in February in Anaheim called Family Reunion.

We will have over 15,000 associates from across the world join us for three days of education and networking which makes it easier to roll out the program and provide more detail and information to a large number of people. Ultimately, real estate is our primary goal and wellness is there to support our efforts.

The healthier an employee is the more productive they can be, and the more they can earn while providing better support to their clients. We want to make the entire extended family at Keller Williams healthier, happier, and more productive.

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