When I was hired and first learned that gap intelligence was ranked among the top three in San Diego's Healthiest Companies of 2014, I was a bit skeptical. To be frank, I wasn’t aware that non-fitness related 9-to-5 office jobs were actually ranked on such a scale in the first place, but that aside, I wasn’t sure just how well the gapWellness program was implemented – or, more importantly, how or if it would affect me. I was so sure I would be too busy doing my own thing (or doing "real work") to enjoy whatever gap intelligence was trying to offer.
It's now been a full year since I started working here, and I can confidently say – from experience – that gap intelligence rightly deserves its #1 ranking in San Diego's Healthiest Companies of 2016. Not because gappers are a bunch of fitness freaks (that's not what it means to be "healthy"), but because of the positive impact this 9-to-5 office job has made on my personal lifestyle, my attitude outside of work, and my overall health.
Gappers have access to plenty of fitness-related sponsorships and group-oriented activities: partnerships with the Point Loma Sports Club and Yoga Six, Thursday night beach Vavi beach volleyball with the Fighting Hedgehogs, the Fitbit Wars of 2017 plus the occasional 5K’s and hikes. If gappers want to get moving and get involved with other peers, there are tons of outlets readily available.
I’ll be honest: as grateful as I am for these offers, I’m not a big fan of yoga, gyms, hiking, or sports. I love to run outdoors, so you bet I’ll see my fellow gappers at the upcoming San Diego County Fair 5K – but I’ve always been a runner. It’s not something gap intelligence motivated me to start doing, though I am grateful gap intelligence provides that outlet to me. And sure, I’m much more hydrated now that I work right next to the water dispenser, but that doesn’t mean gap intelligence has changed my diet either.
It’s obvious gap intelligence cares about the physical well-being of its employees. But how has it affected me personally?
Would you believe me if I said gap intelligence helped me improve my sleep schedule?
You get a Fitbit! And you get a Fitbit! Everyone gets a Fitbit!
Gappers received Fitbits at the beginning of the year in order to promote wellness and some friendly competition around the office. And last time I checked, most companies don’t just hand out free Fitbits to every single employee.
I wouldn’t have found out I wasn’t sleeping properly if gapU never promoted wellness in the company and blessed us with electronic bracelets.
To be fair, I never considered getting myself a fitness tracker; I wasn’t interested in tracking my steps, and my workout routines haven’t changed since receiving one either. But I had no idea it could track my sleep patterns as accurately as it does. Before I received my Fitbit, I thought I was doing pretty well with my sleep. I cut out caffeine after certain hours, I avoid electronics while I’m getting ready for bed. Sleeping from 10 PM to 5 AM is seven hours of sleep – so why do I still have nasty bags under my eyes? I thought I was getting a solid seven hours a night, but when an hour and a half of that is filled with restlessness and waking up in the middle of the night, it’s no wonder I felt so sleepy throughout the day.
Long story short, I found out it was because of my bed itself that I couldn’t sleep well at night (and this bed I’ve been sleeping on my entire life until last month). Thank you, gap intelligence, for helping me rush my decision to finally switch out from a twin-sized mattress to a queen. I no longer lose nearly two hours of sleep at night, nor do I come home needing a daily nap anymore.
Sure, technically the Fitbit is what helped me improve my sleep – but it’s only because of the gapWellness program that I have one in the first place.
gap intelligence not only promotes physical wellness for its employees, but the company makes sure we’re all mentally sound as well. A “High-Five Culture” is literally what it sounds like – people do run around the office giving each other high-fives over their accomplishments, no matter how big or how small.
With some companies, you only hear back from certain coworkers or management if you did something wrong. At gap intelligence, everyone makes sure you know you’re doing things right – and that what you’re doing makes an impact and is valued by the company. We even utilize gapGoals and “bragging lists” to do exactly that – brag about our accomplishments and goals to the rest of the company, so we can cheer each other on to continue to do great things.
When I do receive negative feedback here, it never feels that way – it’s always constructive, never accusatory, and even made positive in some manner. I don’t walk away worried that I’ll keep messing up or that what I’m doing is pointless. I am given a clear goal for how to improve, and when that improvement happens, it’s celebrated.
It’s nice to not be scared when someone Slacks me. As someone with self-esteem issues, that helps combat my anxiety a lot, and I noticed I’m no longer as defensive about criticisms as I used to be outside of the workplace. Working in this type of environment has improved my attitude in enormous ways, both in and out of the office.
gap intelligence also encourages its employees to work outside of their comfort zone. I’ve always been intrigued by coding, but never considered pursuing it professionally. Yet here I am, attending gap code school 101 and learning how to interact with Ruby. I wish I could see what would have happened if I had tried my hand at computer science during my college years – but because gap code school is available to me now, I don’t have anything to regret.
I also loved the idea of volunteering, but only ever as an idea. I never really had the motivation nor drive to commit to it after I moved on from high school. But with gap intelligence's own 3T's committee, there are so many opportunities to participate in volunteer work, like annual toy and blood drives, dog adoption events, Traveling Stories, and #Drives4Rides, our annual golf tournament to support the Emilio Nares Foundation. I'm so excited to become a part of a team that gives back to the community I live in.
Coding and volunteering are two things I never would have expected to find myself doing when I first joined gap intelligence, and words can't describe how happy I am to experience them now.
There are way more healthy practices that go into gap intelligence than I could talk about here – the “Are You Happy” Surveys to measure employee satisfaction, the fact that I know the names of every single coworker both in office and remote, the weekly gapU Snack Attacks and the opportunity to take a break and interact with people you don’t normally work with. All of these factor in to why gap intelligence is San Diego’s Healthiest (small) Company of 2016.
Health is not all about fitness and physical wellbeing. Mental health and sanity are equally important, and gap intelligence likes to make sure its employees are well taken care of. A high-five a day keeps anxiety away, and I feel that’s a part of gapCulture that every company should utilize.