Lead and Learn
Caitlin Garvey, Social Media and Digital Coordinator at Gentle Giant Moving
Feb. 28, 2023
Founded by President Larry O’Toole in 1980, Gentle Giant is an award-winning moving company with over 40 years of experience in local and interstate moving, storage, and packing services. From the beginning, O'Toole had a vision - to create an environment of leadership development “where movers are considered leaders, not laborers.” What began as a man and his moving van in Boston has expanded into a national company with eleven offices across the US, including New England, the Carolinas, Florida, D.C., Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, and Phoenix.
The core of Gentle Giant’s philosophy is the belief that investing in employees’ health and wellness will result in outstanding customer service – and it's working. Gentle Giant boasts an impressive customer repeat rate of approximately 80% and a workforce with longevity. Many of Gentle Giant’s senior employees got their start on our moving trucks. In an industry notorious for high employee turnover, Gentle Giant employees cite workplace satisfaction as a top reason for staying. The key to this is the company’s health and wellness program. “We have had an informal program in place for the better part of the company’s 40+ years of existence. As we have grown over the past twenty years, so have our health and wellness offerings,” says HR Director, Ryan Falvey.
About fifteen years ago, the company began to focus more on developing a formal wellness program to include mental and physical initiatives. “We launched an annual wellness day, provided access to counseling services through the Employee Assistance Program, and hired a meditation firm,'' says Falvey. “During this period, more and more staff have become engaged in the practice of wellness, and learning about the positive impacts these resources have on our people’s lives motivates the team to continuously improve our program.”
Onsite Fitness Centers
As part of Gentle Giant’s health and wellness program, employees can avail of company fitness centers. “When creating the onsite centers, our employees’ fitness priorities were top of mind. We developed centers suitable for all ages by incorporating a mix of high and low-intensity equipment. Many of our younger ‘Giants’ [nickname for employees] tend to focus on activities like powerlifting, bodybuilding, CrossFit, and combat sports, while others prefer low-impact cardio, including rowing and cycling,” says South Carolina Assistant Manager, Joe Guns.
The addition of onsite fitness centers has positively impacted employee activity by removing barriers, including cost and commuting. With the company’s flexible schedule, employees can choose the most convenient time, from an early morning session to a workday break. The centers also provide an opportunity for employees to work out together. It’s not unusual to find 3-5 people from a mix of departments achieving and supporting one another’s goals. “This has been a key factor in increasing employee morale and is a proven motivator towards staying consistent, a true win-win,” says Guns.
Mental Health Initiatives
While the physical health of employees is a top priority, Gentle Giant also recognizes the importance of mental health. The company is proud to offer several mental health initiatives, including monthly cost-free meditation sessions with acclaimed Mindfulness Coach, Amanda Peacock. Additionally, Gentle Giant participates in the Employee Assistance Program provided by Mount Auburn Hospital. This program offers employees and members of their households counseling services on relationship and family issues, emotional stress, alcohol and drug addiction, workplace concerns, and legal and financial issues.
As of 2021, Gentle Giant employees can avail of company-subsidized ClassPass subscriptions. Users have access to hundreds of classes right on their doorstep. "I discovered the HandleBar spinning studio through the ClassPass app and usually attend a class two to three times a week. The positive effect this has on my energy levels, and mental health has been incredible,” says Marketing Director, Danielle Rankin.
As a family-oriented company, Gentle Giant places immense value on a healthy work-life balance. Because of this, staff members have the option of flexible work schedules. Movers can choose which days they wish to work per week by entering their availability into an internal scheduling system. This means they can prioritize their time in a way that’s most convenient for them, enabling them to focus on their interests, spend quality time with family and friends, and care for their mental health. Similarly, the office staff can adjust their work schedules. Whether your kids have a baseball game or it is your grandson’s birthday, employees can alter their work hours so they don’t miss out on these important moments.
“We have witnessed truly exciting and positive outcomes from the various mental health initiatives,” said Ryan Falvey. “The meditation sessions have proven to be a highly popular resource among our people. Many who attend have shared that they now incorporate meditation into their daily lives, which has helped to decrease anxiety and stress levels.”
Additionally, there has been a large uptake in the use of ClassPass subscriptions. Falvey added, “We are seeing a workforce that places health and wellness at its core, thanks to readily available resources. Many Giants have shared stories of trying new classes, like boxing or spinning, that they never considered before. These classes have now become a part of their daily routine.”
The Future of the Workplace
“Going forward, we will also look at remote work and try to understand what the right strategy is for blending remote and office-based work,” says Falvey. The workplace has experienced significant changes since the pandemic, especially when it comes to an understanding what role work-from-home should play. “We believe that we will continue to see companies wrestling with this issue, specifically how they can find a balance between maintaining company culture and supporting the needs of employees.”
Looking to the future, a top priority for Gentle Giant is hiring the right people who share the company’s values of health and wellness, as well as teamwork, honesty, and respect. Gentle Giant has seen big changes in the workplace with the addition of several new regional offices this past year. In September, the company officially opened the doors of its Phoenix office. There are also plans for expansion throughout New England and beyond in 2023. With this exciting growth comes the need to find talented people and discover new ways to keep employees engaged, collaborate, and share a positive work experience.
ABOUT GENTLE GIANT MOVING COMPANY
Gentle Giant Moving Company is a premium independent residential moving company with over 40 years of experience in local and interstate moving, packing, and storage services. The company was founded in 1980 by President Larry O'Toole, and has grown from its one Greater Boston location to twenty-two regions throughout the country.
Gentle Giant Moving Company has earned praise, awards and recognition from a wide variety of locations and publications. At the end of the day, it is clients’ opinions which matter most to us. In fact, they love us so much, their referrals account for 80% of our business. Our 300+ competent, caring movers and moving specialists provide a stress-free move for more than 15,000 customers each year. We guarantee every client’s satisfaction because we know we can deliver, based on 40 years of proven success and an unwavering commitment to put our clients first.