Ad Agency Sells Positive Behaviour to Own Staff

How much influence does your company have on changing your health and well-being? The staff of a Victoria-based advertising agency are about to find out, launching an in-office campaign that will give their team a dose of its own marketing medicine.

Social marketing agency Redbird Communications typically uses marketing techniques to help clients such as BC Hydro and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of B.C. and Yukon promote positive behavioural change. But this month they’re looking for results closer to home, and have set up an in-office campaign to motivate their staff to live healthier lives.

As the agency’s focus is “healthy people, healthy places,” the program includes fitness and lifestyle improvements, and a better diet, as well as energy conservation and sustainable practices in the workplace. While many of the staff already exercise regularly after work, the agency felt that an in-office exercise program would help to keep them on track, especially through the winter months. Employees have set up pre and post campaign measurements, and are using pledges, prompts, and incentives.

So far they’ve started to compost organic waste, committed to using at least two hours of natural light on bright days to cut down on energy consumption, and have replaced Monday pizza lunches with vouchers for healthy after-work activities such as kayak rentals, gym passes, and martial arts classes. They’ve also launched in-office circuit training, where creative types and account managers alike participate in a daily 10-minute routine of sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, and stair climbing with jump-rope in between.

In addition to personal health benefits, positive behavioral changes can help the bottom line of a business. According to Health Canada, work performance can be improved by 4 to 15 per cent through participation in regular exercise. Similarly, a study by Canada Life in Toronto showed a return of $3.40 for every dollar invested into workplace physical activity programs. This was also confirmed in a study of workplace activity programs by the Public Health Agency of Canada which reported that participants who exercise at work had improved mental concentration, stamina, reaction time, and greater alertness.  

On the ‘healthy places’ front, Redbird has reduced its total power consumption by 7.1 per cent for the period June to October of 2010, compared to the same period last year. Their goal is an overall 25 per cent reduction, which is the amount that the U.S. Department of Energy estimates can be achieved by small behavioral changes.

Redbird president Carol Vincent is happy with the campaign so far.

“We’ve been cutting down our energy costs, saving on paper and ink, and the team is invigorated,” she says. “The circuit training is a good break in the day and doing some pull-ups in front of your team doesn’t hurt your leadership image. Or so I’m told. I hope to actually do a pull-up some day soon.”

Redbird will be tracking progress and posting results and videos on Twitter (@RedbirdComms) and the company website.

Photo: Redbird client services coordinator Amy Schumacher working out in the office.