Day 7: Water Flows Downhill

Water Flows Downhill

Podcast: Workforce Health Engagement

Author: Jesse Lahey

Episode 31: Building a High-Performance and Health-Driven Culture at Trek Bikes


There are many perks to being the leader. You have greater control over your life, you direct the shots, and you have a team to carry out your vision. Humans have always had an unspoken agreement between teams and leaders, whether it was during tribal days or in companies today: Leaders accept the benefits AND responsibility. 

Leaders direct change from the top. Leaders make the hard choices. Leaders are on the front lines fighting it out with their team. Leaders guide by example, working those late nights and weekends. For any initiative to be successful, leaders need to adopt it themselves.

In this interview with CEO of Trek Bikes, John Burke reveals how Trek Bikes has evolved over the last 40 years. Company culture remains a cornerstone in developing the company from $16 million to over $1 billion in sales. Burke discusses how their old wellness program was your typical offering of benefits and discounts for healthy staff. 13 years ago, Trek Bikes made a drastic revision to their corporate policy by making healthy living a requirement. Burke changed the policy after three employees (1 spouse of employee) suffered obesity related deaths. Trek Bikes made it easy for their employees to get in shape by providing the following:

- Free health center in their offices

- Changing food in the cafeteria

- Bringing healthy snacks to the office

- Annual health assessments

The message was as clear as day. Burke cared about the health of his team and he made sure that the organization reflected his beliefs. Change occurred at the top and flowed downhill. Every year since that revision, his company has performed better on their health assessments. Burke says that if his employees are happier, they perform better and being healthy allows you to get more out of life.