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Expedia, Inc. tells employees to take a hike - literally

Tatiana Rokou - 14 February 2013, 13:08

The online travel company promotes employee well-being with a host of health and wellness programs to encourage healthier lifestyle habits.

BELLEVUE, WASH. - As one of the world's leading online travel companies, Expedia, Inc. knows not to underestimate the power of a good vacation on improving one's state of mind. So when the company realized a few years ago that a majority of its workforce wasn't using their fully-allotted vacation time, business leaders saw a need to practice what they preach. In addition to implementing a revised vacation policy, Expedia, Inc. also elected to begin offering an annual travel allowance to help fund employees' vacation travel during their downtime.

"Study after study was showing us that employees tend to return from vacation feeling energized, revitalized, and more productive," said Connie Symes, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Expedia, Inc. "Unfortunately, it is too common for people to feel like they can't take time away from work because there's simply too much to do, or they fear it will reflect poorly on their work ethic. Our intention was to dispel that notion from the Expedia, Inc. culture and actually incent people to take time to relax and recharge. Now, we feel like we have a happier and more well-balanced workforce which makes us even more competitive as a travel company. We live and breathe travel at work; we need to enjoy it personally as well."

The updated vacation policy and travel allowance were well-received by Expedia, Inc. employees, and today are just one of several core companywide programs aimed at encouraging healthy behaviors. Expedia, Inc. already provides annual fitness allowances that employees can use to put toward gym memberships, weight loss programs, and even ski lift tickets. And earlier this year the company launched go!, a comprehensive well-being initiative that offers employees information, resources and tools to develop and maintain a well-balanced lifestyle focused on factors like physical and mental health.

"Go! celebrates all opportunities -in everyday life and on our travels- to be active and feel our best. The impetus of go! is really about making small, sustainable changes that, when done repeatedly and in combination, lead to a better overall quality of life. It can be taking the stairs instead of the elevator or putting down the computer and spending time with your family," said Symes. "By taking steps that lead to a healthy lifestyle, people can often significantly diminish their chances of illness and disease later in life and be a healthy influence to those that surround them."

And for those times when illness does strike? Expedia, Inc. has an answer for that, too. The company recently partnered with Qliance, a leading healthcare organization operating a network of clinics that provide comprehensive primary and preventative care services, to open an onsite clinic at its Bellevue, Washington headquarters. Now, Expedia, Inc. employees and their dependents have easy access to primary health care services, including Saturday hours. The company hopes this effort will help prevent treatable symptoms from becoming chronic issues and encourage employees to use their sick time and medical benefits when needed. In just the first month of operation, employees and their dependents utilized nearly 300 office visits at the clinic.

"We are really pleased at how much use the clinic has received so far," said Symes. "It's great to see that the tools being provided are making health and well-being more convenient and accessible. As an employer, we spend a great deal of time attracting the best and brightest talent and we are equally focused on helping them be active and engaged employees of Expedia, Inc. We have a vested stake in the vitality of our workforce, and so we really can't afford not to make preventative care a top priority for our employees."


Photo caption: Expedia, Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Qliance CEO Dr. Erika Bliss and Expedia, Inc. EVP Human Resources Connie Symes cut the ribbon at Expedia headquarters' new onsite clinic.

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