Creating a Culture of Wellness

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Innovative HR Leader Series: Laxmi Shetty, Senior HR Manager, Outdoor Voices

Founded by Tyler Haney, “Outdoor Voices is an active lifestyle brand that makes technical apparel for recreation. The company is founded on that tenet that doing things – moving the body and having fun with friends – outlasts a win when it comes to inspiring sustainable active lives. OV’s mission is to get people out there and doing things together, to redefine recreation as part of everyday life.” Over several rounds of funding, Outdoor Voices (OV) has raised $29 million in funding. The company is headquartered in Austin, with an office in New York City and seven retail locations across the country—in Austin, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Aspen.

As a company that focuses on embracing wellness, inclusion, and being active for consumers- how do they create the same vibe for their own employees?

By living their motto – doing things.

Laxmi Shetty is the Senior HR Manager at Outdoor Voices. As one of a four-person people team, Laxmi has her hands full in managing the day to day details of the company and ensuring that OV’s mission is reflected internally.

Laxmi began her career in HR by chance- in college she was a pre-med and Psychology major exploring the possibility of a Law degree or MBA post-graduation. A firm believer in testing the water before taking the dive, Laxmi began working at a law firm and realized it wasn’t a fit. Her passions lied within business, marketing, and HR. She then moved on to start her HR career at a tech company in Austin and focused on recruiting. After obtaining her MBA, Laxmi shifted into an HR operations role. Wanting to do more things, Laxmi came to Outdoor Voices to lead their HR team.

Ensuring Outdoor Voices has a vibrant company culture is a large focus for Laxmi- particularly with a focus on creating an environment that fosters creativity and that employees love. So how does a fitness-apparel company emulate their health and wellness mission within their culture?

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“At Outdoor Voices, we live the motto in the office. Doing things applies not only to our customers, but our employees.”

Every quarter Outdoor Voices hosts various wellness initiatives in their office and retail sites. Whether team activities such flag football or yoga in the office- both of their HQ locations have events going on. Many of these initiatives are employee-led- “talk about a company really living their mission!” In addition to quarterly events, OV has implemented what they call a “hearts and stars” system. When official internal events are not being sponsored, employees are encouraged to share an activity they are going to, such as attending a dance class, where others can join in. Those who initiate the activity obtain a star, while those who participate a heart. At the end of each quarter hearts and stars are tallied up and the individual with the highest count wins a gift. In addition to quarterly events, anytime the company has an all-hands or important meeting, the first item on the agenda is surveying employees to see who did something that day.

During the busy time of year, Outdoor Voices recognizes the hard work of all their employees. To ensure they are taken care of, they offer a wellness week to ensure individuals have a few moments to decompress. Whether serving healthy juices for those at retail locations or chair massages at HQ, Laxmi and her team ensure that everyone at each level of the organization knows that their wellbeing is being considered and their hard work is appreciated.

Aside from encouraging a work-life balance and active lifestyles, Outdoor Voices also focuses on a comprehensive benefit offering to ensure that employee’s healthcare needs are addressed. Overall well-being is a top priority, and Laxmi ensures that all employees are fully educated about their benefits and what they mean. Providing education on financial wellness, such as 401(k)’s and saving for retirement or how to use the EAP program when additional assistance is needed, is a top priority during their Open Enrollment.

With a company employing a majority of young individuals, it’s important to make sure to fully explain benefits, how they work, and be transparent. I also keep office hours for our employees so they know they always have a safe place to come chat.”

Creating a culture of wellness for a wellness brand seems intuitive, but it’s important to ensure that everyone is on board. At Outdoor Voices, from leadership to team leads, taking time for yourself is a running theme and encouraged. Outdoor Voices not only embodies a culture of wellness for their employees and customers, but they truly live their mission.

How are you doing things?

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