In partnership with legendary guitar maker Fender, Zappos now offers employees an exciting new wellness benefit. The program is called Strum for the Sole, and it gives more than 1,500 employees access to an onsite “jam room” at its Las Vegas facility. Employees can use Fender Play, an app that provides users with step-by-step music lessons on electric and acoustic guitar, bass, and ukulele, free of charge in the jam room. The jam room is even outfitted with instruments for employee use, and employees who wish to sign up for their own Fender Play account receive a discount on the app.
“The whole premise for Strum for the Sole is to offer employees the opportunity to learn an instrument. It helps build social connections, reduce stress, slow down, and express creativity. It’s something new that we wanted to try.”
– Bhawna Provenzano, Director of Employee Benefits and Diversity
Music And Brain Health
Innovative additions to wellness programs are always worth celebrating. Zappos’s program is especially exciting because it leverages some of the most valuable brain research of the last few decades. Studies are clear on the benefits of music for brain development, even beyond childhood.
Among the benefits of playing an instrument:
- Improved attention, memory, and problem-solving abilities
- Better multisensory skills
- Reduced stress
- Stronger social connections
- Improved coordination, posture, and muscle memory
The Zappos/Fender partnership also encourages lifelong learning. Studies reveal that adults who engage in learning new skills or take up new hobbies reap many benefits, including:
- Improved brain chemistry
- Improved memory skills even up to a year after learning the new skill
- Reduced chances of developing dementia
Research shows that brain development doesn’t stop when childhood ends. Rather, new brain cell growth can happen well into adulthood when the brain is adequately stimulated. Companies that encourage their employees to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge will benefit from a workforce that’s not only equipped for future company growth but also protected against many of the most common maladies of aging.
Going Beyond Physical Health
For decades, employers looked at wellness programs as something to address only physical well-being. Gym discounts, on-site fitness centers, health fairs, and other similar benefits were innovative and cutting edge when they first appeared.
In a highly competitive marketplace, wellness benefits are an important consideration for employees. Not only must wellness programs address needs beyond physical health, but the programs need to be inclusive, customizable, and personalized to meet a wide variety of individual needs.
Does a robust wellness program pay off in the long run? In short, yes. One recent study showed that employees who have access to wellness programs that address most or all of the five aspects of well-being (physical, mental, financial, social, and community) report higher levels of satisfaction with both their own job performance and their employers. Those employees were also more likely to recommend their employers as a good place to work, which lowers recruitment costs.
In a webcast from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, CEO of the National Wellness Institute Chuck Gillespie said, “[Employers] must commit to looking beyond clinical health outcomes. You want employees to be fulfilled both personally and professionally.”