What happens when a company puts health & wellness first?

VideoAmp CEO Ross McCray and Health & Wellness Director Jessica Suver have insights on the matter.

Ross McCray

Finding a way to harmonize being a hyper productive CEO, taking care of personal responsibilities and growing my health and wellness has always been a priority. Working out and playing sports has been a huge part of my personal evolution and ultimately helped me change my life for the better.

I met Jess about three years ago. After doing a lot of random activities like running, swimming and lifting, I became obsessed with CrossFit because I love both competition and measurement. CrossFit really appealed to me because it’s heavily results-oriented. I set out to find the best CrossFit box in LA and that’s when I came across Paradiso, where Jess was Head Coach. 

It wasn't long before I realized Jess’ experience and people skills went so much further than just fitness. The work I was doing with her was having a really profound impact on my day-to-day life in the workplace, harnessing my positive mindset. As people get physically healthier, it translates over into their mental strength. I knew this was something I had to share with my entire organization.

One of VideoAmp’s brand tenants is ‘challenging paradigms.’ It’s clear that one paradigm of the modern workplace is offering health and wellness initiatives to employees, but this generally only extends to discounted/free gym memberships or occasional office workout sessions. For me, this isn’t good enough. Health and wellness needs to be embraced fully to work properly, at VideoAmp we needed to do better. To be truly impactful, I needed to provide teams with an advanced level of engagement and day-to-day encouragement which ultimately led me to the decision to hire Jess in a full-time role. Jess has since become a core part of our winning culture and we offer team rewards for succeeding in fitness challenges in addition to their work in a way that caters to all levels. 

The media and marketing industry is notorious for promoting bad habits that are attractive to those working in it, like parties and lunches. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy this side of it as well, but personally it’s not the most constructive way to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. We set out to benefit all aspects of our employees’ lives and extend our initiatives to families, and even clients as well, to create a community that benefits everyone. It’s vital for leaders to focus on their people and try to authentically understand what works for them. By doing this, we’ve managed to create the kind of work/life blend people crave from the modern agency environment.

Jess Suver

My role at VideoAmp is unlike any other I’ve taken on before. I started with just coaching a few classes for employees to now running full class schedules in multiple locations and regular company-wide fitness challenges with insane prizes for the winners, like trips to Hawaii. My role began as an in-house coach but it’s become so much more than that. Since the moment I started working in the office, it became clear people wanted to talk to me about wider issues. Ross noticed what a difference it made for staff to have someone there full time and knew he had to take it seriously. It wasn’t enough to be like, ‘oh we hired a coach to come in one day every now and then,’ someone in my role needed to be there holistically. At VideoAmp, I see the same people every single day, I know them on a personal level and I tailor each individual plan to meet personal goals. Here, I’m really able to help people.   

Before I was brought in-house at VideoAmp, I had been working as an English professor, teaching classes in the day and being there for students at an extremely difficult time in their lives. In college, every student is on a unique journey; some are stressed with workload, others are feeling homesick being away from their parents for the first time, and a great way to keep a level head and stay on track is to make sure that they are looking after their mental health and well-being. As we get older, our problems and priorities might shift, but fundamentally life never changes. We still experience stress as we go into the workplace and our mental health and well-being can suffer, forced to take a back seat. Having the option to take some time to look after your health while at work without having to spend money on gym memberships or sacrifice time spent with family, makes a ton of difference.  

So many people in the advertising industry come to me with the same issue - they are working in a role that they have no formal education to prepare for and are suffering with imposter syndrome, convinced they are not good enough. This is simply not true, but at VideoAmp we try and offer a safe space to listen and to fail in because we know that failure is key to growth.    

Ross isn’t wrong when he says there’s no such thing as work-life balance. Sadly, for so many people working in the advertising industry, this is just the reality. But at VideoAmp we want to accommodate for this and make sure that our employees aren’t missing out on anything despite their strong work ethics. Instead of turning a blind eye to the problem and trying to deny that work-life balance can be hard to achieve, we’ve tried to come up with a creative solution that means employees are able to put their health and well-being first.  

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