Vancouver-based technology company FORM is using swimming to foster employee well-being and improve physical and mental health.

The company hosts a team swim day on Tuesdays and a social swim on Fridays, which is more organic and provides employees with more time to connect, says Dan Eisenhardt, the organization’s founder and chief executive officer.

“It seemed like a logical option because our company is involved in the swimming space. I come from a family of swimmers and I’ve been swimming since I was five, so I know the positive effect it has. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, there’s a lot of evidence for the mental benefits of swimming. We want to make sure we have a healthy workforce that is . . . reaping the benefits of having more energy and [exercising more].”

Read: Employers continue to highlight mental-health supports, prioritize staff well-being

He recognizes swimming is unique because employees have to put on bathing suits and see co-workers in a completely different setting. Although it may feel awkward at first, FORM has made sure every employee feels safe and comfortable along the way.

Employee participation in the swimming program is up to at least 30 per cent, says Eisenhardt. “It’s definitely changed the conversation and the atmosphere within the company in a positive way. It’s also good for new employees — they know they can easily [meet] other people and spend time with them outside of work and build that rapport.”

The swim days have also paid off from a retention and productivity perspective, he adds, noting employees enjoy the break from work and feel more motivated after they return.

Read: How a Montreal tech company is helping staff stay active amid pandemic

Further demonstrating the importance of self-care at FORM, C-suite level executives are often seen in workout gear during their lunch break so employees can recognize the importance of prioritizing their own health and wellness.

Eisenhardt suggests employers focus on starting small when it comes to wellness initiatives, instead of spending months trying to put together the perfect program. “The reality is these [initiatives] need to be more organic and companies need to adapt to what works for employees. The biggest recommendation I could give is to not overthink it. Allocate time and just leave room for feedback from employees. Let them define how they want to spend their time.”

Read: Employers prioritizing mental, physical health in return-to-workplace plans: survey