Jason Calacanis Fosters A Healthy Work Environment At Mahalo.com

Posted Nov 20, 2010

I read an interesting article on the American Express Open Forum this past week about how Jason Calacanis fosters a healthy work environment at his start-up company Mahalo.com. Calacanis hired a professional chef to prepare healthy snacks for every employee every day. These snacks are even brought to every employee’s desk at regular times throughout the day.

Oatmeal is served at everyone’s desk at 9AM. This is followed by a fruit plate at 3PM and a protein snack at 5PM. ?We do this because 90 percent of our staff will eat the fruit bowl if it is personally brought to them, but only 20 percent will take the initiative to go make a fruit bowl or a healthy protein snack,? said Calacanis in an interview.

Rather than serving high-fructose corn syrup drinks, Mahalo offers fresh-brewed tea and organic coffee. For those who want a caffeine boost, there are dual-espresso machines.

?We spend about $10 a day per person on food, which results in a cost of $2,500 a year per employee. With over 60 people, we’re spending close to $200k on this program. However, we find that our team is more focused during work because they are not making poor food choices (i.e. pizza, soda, sandwiches, fast food, burgers), and they are really excited to work at Mahalo since they feel taken care of and appreciated,? added Calacanis.

On top of offering healthy food and drinks, Mahalo.com has a boot-camp style “Fit Club” in the parking lot three times a week. Calacanis said that the obesity rate at Mahalo is less than 5%. This is one-sixth of the national average.

?Because of these special health/wellness perks, we can afford to make our starting salary cost lower than competing companies and we still have a line of folks out the door who want to work at Mahalo — including developers, which are very hard to find. We never use recruiters, which cost $10-15k per developer in our industry. On that basis alone it’s worth it. We have also experienced bizarrely low turnover in the past six months (zero!), and year (one or two people). On that basis it is worth it as well,? added Calacanis.

[AMEX Open Forum]