The Road To Wellville: TextNow and Employee Health
They say the tech industry is a young person’s game, and certainly TextNow is no different. As The Globe & Mail’s story on TextNow in their 2017 overview on Canada’s top small and medium employers reported, the average age of a TextNowvian at our HQ is 29.
For context, I was 29 once. In 1999. The fresh-faced coders here look at me like I’m the reincarnation of Methuselah.
For me, “wellness” is not an abstraction, some vague notion that I should try to maintain my youthful vigour throughout the long life span I have stretching out before me like a highway to the horizon. I’m 47. I am, to put it delicately, closer to the end than to the beginning. Wellness, for me, is a going concern.
Theoretically, I mean. Turns out, I’m great at not taking care of myself. If sloth was an Olympic sport, I’d be a gold medallist, easy.
So, when TextNow started various wellness initiatives — on-site gym, healthier snacks, yoga and spin classes (not at the same time), personal and group training sessions — the health-conscious millennials were all over it. I, of course, as a profoundly lazy, overweight old man, completely ignored the initiatives.
Well, I tried to ignore them, at any rate. But when Lindsay (our Chief Operations Officer and spearhead for the whole wellness initiative) mentioned we were doing biometric screening, it happened to dovetail with my own upcoming doctor’s appointment for some ongoing health issues I’ve been facing. I figured arming myself with a little extra knowledge in advance of my doctor’s appointment couldn’t hurt.
Biometric screening gives you some basic feedback on some baseline health quantifiers: cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body mass index, blood sugar levels. Somewhat shockingly my cholesterol and blood sugar was fine. Blood pressure? Not so much.
“You have high blood pressure,” the wellness nurse said.
“It’s OK, I’m going for a checkup,” I said.
“Good, but you absolutely need to talk to him about it.”
Flash-forward a couple of weeks, and my doctor agreed. “You definitely seem to have high blood pressure. Let’s get you on a pressure monitor for a day and see where we’re at.”
So I complied — strapped myself to a blood pressure monitor that inflated once every 30 minutes to check my blood pressure. For 24 hours. If you’re wondering how I slept while a strap constricted around my arm every thirty minutes, the answer is: I didn’t.
Then, it was back to the doctor. “OK, you definitely have hypertension,” he said. “Your average was 145/119.”
I nodded as if I knew what those numbers mean.
“That’s bad,” the doctor said in response to my clear demonstration of ignorance. “Anything over 150 is what we call a ‘cardiac event’. You’re basically a couple of integers away from a heart attack or stroke at all times.”
“Yeah, but, if I look at my eating habits and maybe walk a little more, that’ll go down, right?”
“Well, sure,” the doctor said. “Like a couple of points. But you need to be on medication for this. Like, yesterday. And you’ll be on it for the rest of your life.”
Even with my profoundly ignorant attitude towards my own health (I tend to live by the illogical notion that what I don’t know about couldn’t possibly hurt me), that managed to sink in.
The next day, at work, Lindsay wanted to know how it went.
“Well, I have hypertension, and started medication for it. The doctor said it’s good we caught this as it could have very easily led to a cardiac event.”
“So what I’m hearing is that I saved your life!” Lindsay said.
“Well, I wouldn’t say that. I would say the screening led me to discover the high blood — “
“Nope! Saved your life!”
The object lesson here is clear: wellness isn’t just running on treadmills in the office gym while somebody plays their “Summer Bangers” playlist. A real wellness program should encompass all employees. Not just the gym rats or the people interested in yoga, but for the middle-aged folks like me who, let’s be honest here, need all the help they can get.
Above is a peek at the wellness programs we run each week. We’ve partnered with Wellpoint Health who are providing much needed assistance with our wellness programs — their holistic approach to wellness as a key component of employee health and safety matches our company’s goal of an initiative that can apply to all of us here at TextNow. (Even me.)
If you’re interested in an employer who cares about its employees, not just the amount of work they can get done in a day, and who thinks an investment in employees health is money well-spent, check out our job openings!