The Picture of Health

}Health food carts. Yoga. Feng Shui. “Stress-Free Fridays.” Massage therapy. Personal training.

No, you’re not at the Alternative Medicine Foundation. You’re at J. Walter Thompson under the leadership of president Bob Jeffrey.

Well-known as an all-around health nut, Jeffrey has ushered in a new era of wellness at JWT with his so-called Balance Program. On any given day, for instance, JWT staffers can shut down their e-mail and head for the “de-stress room”—a welcoming 5th floor retreat where dim lighting, tranquil music, meditation pillows, spine rollers, aromatherapy and the sound of waterfalls can relax even the most tagline-blocked copywriter.

“Any kind of progressive company has to realize there’s less separation now between how people work and how they live,” Jeffrey explains. “I’ve always wanted to do this program. It’s getting a great response.”

Agencies nationwide, in fact, are increasingly turning to health awareness to boost staff productivity and morale—quality of life issues that are crucial in a tight job market.

“We had to add a second masseuse—the first couldn’t keep up,” says Eric Webber, a spokesman for GSD&M in Dallas, which also offers stress-management and health fairs, yoga, self-defense and CPR classes, a vitamin/herbal medicine discount program and locker rooms for the sporty types.

“When employees are healthy and happy, that’s good for the company,” Webber says. “There’s also the competitive issue—keeping up with some very innovative things [other agencies] are offering.”

What they’re offering is pretty varied. At Temerlin McClain in Irving, Texas, it’s a full Wellness Library of 50-60 tapes employees can check out. At Publicis in Dallas, it’s classes in Tai Bo—a funky mix of martial arts and aerobics. At Los Angeles-based 120, it’s a trip to the mountains twice a year for activities like fixed- and high-rope courses to aid in team building.

“They’re sort of half physical, half mental exercises that always tie back to the organization,” says 120 client services director Jonathan Anastas.

Emergence in Richmond, Va., may have them all beat. The Internet agency has delighted its employees by giving each of them one of those hip little Razor scooters to zip around on as a stress-reduction tool. And, perhaps coolest of all, the shop has signed up Blair Grossman as its very own concierge.

“I do the little things no one has time to do,” says Grossman, a graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Management. “Everyone gives me their to-do lists. I handle them quickly and discreetly.”

Freaking out about a birthday or anniversary? He keeps a stack of greeting cards handy. Need to send flowers, pick up dry cleaning, do shopping? Hankering for a milk shake or a BLT? Need to make vacation reservations? He’s got you covered.

“We call him,” says Emergence chairman and CEO Kelly O’Keefe. “I don’t know how we ran a business without him.” FPG Intrnational/PictureQuestCorbis Images/PictureQuest

chuck gonzales