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Why This Software Company Rewards Employees Who Get the Best Sleep

May 12, 2021

Orientation for new hires at the software company Greenlight Guru begins with co-founder David DeRam saying the same five words: “We’re gonna get weird here.” During the next 90 minutes, DeRam, also the company’s CEO, talks about the “vibrations” the company gives off and how that attracts people with a specific kind of “energy.”

If that sounds too fluffy for an organization that makes quality-management software for medical device companies, you may not be Greenlight Guru material. The firm, founded in 2013 and based in Indianapolis, operates under the premise that culture determines results, and the culture of Greenlight Guru is one that allows employees to feel emotionally supported.

Part of the foundation for this support is the company’s mindset coach, Kevin Bailey, who has worked with Greenlight’s employees since 2016. The founder and CEO of Dreamfuel, a mindset coaching startup, Bailey teaches employees about ways to de-stress and consistently reframe thoughts in a positive light through practices ranging from breathing exercises to journaling. DeRam says the work has been life-changing for his team.

“There’s a lot of fear in the world, and fear is an emotion. Our mindset coach teaches us how to deal really well with emotions,” DeRam says.

In October 2020, Greenlight doubled down on prioritizing wellness by offering a Whoop Strap–a data-heavy fitness tracker–to any employee who wanted one, spawning a series of intense companywide health competitions.

One such competition awarded whoever achieved the highest-quality sleep, based on heart rate, REM sleep, and deep-sleep periods. The winner, customer success manager Erin Sweeney Barry, received three free days at a wellness center and spa called the Recovery Room.

Though she’s never worked in Greenlight’s physical office–her first day of work was March 16, 2020–Sweeney Barry says she feels closer to her team than she has at any other company she’s worked for. That kind of relationship-building is all the more impressive when you consider that Greenlight Guru has doubled its head count since going all-remote the month Sweeney Barry joined the organization.

In the coming months, DeRam hopes to combine in-person and remote work as he transitions the company into a new office facility (a move that’s been planned since pre-Covid times). That’s not Greenlight’s only ambitious goal, however. DeRam also wants to grow beyond 200 employees by the end of 2021, and using culture as a competitive edge will only get harder once employees no longer know every single person’s name.

His solution: Continue to hire people who, above all else, care. “It’s about: Am I willing to do the right thing for another person, and to push that energy across the organization?” DeRam says. “Or am I just trying to get my job done? That’s a big difference.”