Monday, March 16, 2009

Staff Massage?

I mentioned to a HR attorney that I was waiting in an office when a masseuse strolled in to massage the staff. Apparently this is not uncommon anymore and a way to "reduce employee stress." No clue if it's the employee or employer paying for it.

Now, I'm a huge fan of spas ... but I think it's weird to have massages in the office. Actually, having an "in-office pedicure" while on a conference call could be very efficient. If massages are okay, what about pedicures?

Would it be inappropriate to have the masseuse arrive during a Directors meeting to sort of work the room?

What do you think: In-office massages - Yes or No?


Jeff De Cagna/@pinnovation said...

Cindy, I think the language you're using may be shaping your perspective on this topic.

A "masseuse" is a female who practices massage, but the common connotation of this term is quite pejorative and sordid. Serious professionals in field of massage are called "massage therapists." This is not a semantic distinction. I regularly visit a certified massage therapist to receive treatment for a chronic back pain that has been so bad, I could barely stand. My therapist, who happens to be a woman, has helped me enormously. She is not a masseuse.

Now, as to your question, I think in-office chair massages are a fantastic idea. It is a way to reduce stress and promote wellness. I don't think it is appropriate to compare massages and pedicures however. Foot care is important, but pedicures are primarily cosmetic procedures, while massage offers meaningful health benefits.

If I had a choice, I would probably offer massages to the board of directors rather than yet another reception with food and alcohol. It would be a nice change of pace for most organizations.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit, the thought of getting a massage instead of attending another meeting, answering email, or other work always sounded like a good idea. So, after several days on my feet at our Annual Meeting, I was thrilled to snag one of several massage appointments on the last day of the show that someone had thoughtfully donated for staff working the convention. I met the therapist and was led to a screened privacy area in the conference room we were using as a conference office. Yes, it was a little odd to know my coworkers were just on the other side of the screen attending to business and that thousands of members were busy networking and learning nearby ... but hey, after long nights and miles logged walking the convention center, I was convinced I'd emerge from the massage rejuvenated to help bring energy to the end of meeting, helping to end it on a high note. I settled in for a very professional table massage, and thanks to the skill of the therapist, was able to relax and enjoy the experience despite the background of coworker conversations, radio pages, etc ... that is, until I heard an exchange of someone asking where I was, and the update that I was getting a massage behind the privacy screens. Next thing I know a folded note is dropped on my chest ... right in the middle of the massage! (BTW, the message delivery came from a convention center staffer, not my wonderful coworkers.) So, while I continue to think that massage is a great thing ... count me in the "not at work" camp.

flybymike said...

While not exactly in-office, but in a workplace, our Association has hired a massage therapist to give massages to staff at our Annual Meeting & Convention. The massages were purely optional and behind a private screen, and was simply a back, neck, head, shoulder and arm massage. Given the amount of stress during our Convention, it was well-received by all staff. Those who didn't participate in the massage said they thought was a good idea, they just didn't have the desire to participate. In this economic environment, I wouldn't advocate for our Association to do that in our office, as that might send the wrong message re: our expense management.

Cindy Butts said...

Hi Jeff: I believe there's a BIG difference between massage therapists and the entire pool of people who perform massage. Sort of like all poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles. Massage therapists may provide (as you experience) specific and REGULAR treatments for chronic pain or injuries - and sometimes that's even covered by insurance. I have a friend who's a massage therapist who specializes in "touch treatment" such as adults who weren't touched as children and need to learn to enjoy touch, or those who suffered abuse who need to learn not to be afraid of touch. They have REGULAR and specific massage therapy treatments. I don't remotely consider the person standing in an airport giving a "10 minute massage" or someone walking into an office to perform a fast "stress releasing massage" on any random staff person at their desk to be a therapist, even though it is legitimate massage. So I don't personally equate general massage with massage therapy - even if others (like you) may consider all who give massage to be therapists. I also don't believe the word masseuse is negative (or "masseur").

Unknown said...

I say YES.

I think the "weird" ideas go along way. When you've got a great staff under a lot of pressure these unconventional "back-pats" can build morale that lasts you for years.

Yes, it may look a little strange but these are strange times for businesses/organizations across the board and innovative employee appreciation falls into the "other duties as assigned" category for employers.