By Natalie Walters
Bonnie Crater, CEO of Full Circle Insights, had been working in the famously competitive Silicon Valley for 25 years before noticing the effect her long days and stressful job were having on her health.
While watching herself in a video presentation at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, she says she "didn't even recognize myself."
"I looked like Tiny Tim and thought, 'What has happened to me?' I looked so terrible."
That was a wake-up call for Crater, who says it inspired her to make significant changes to her life and start her own company in 2010.
She now highly values work-life balance and requires one important thing of each of her employees: "They all must have a hobby they invest time in," she says.
Crater believes having a hobby on the side that you enjoy is essential for staying happy and productive, and she wanted her company to be known for that.
"I wanted to create a company with a different culture to prove that you can start a company that runs well and also encourages a healthy work-life balance," she says.
So for each position, she screens candidates with the question, "What hobby is important to you?"
If a candidate says, "I don't have one," they don't get hired.
So far, all job candidates have had an answer, with about half naming a physical activity, like rock climbing or ballroom dancing — and others naming a community outreach program, like helping on alumni association or volunteering, which is especially popular since employees get 24 hours of paid volunteer work per year. "That means 1% of their work hours per year is spent on volunteering, which is important," she says.
The requirement holds true for the CEO, too. Crater says she loves to play tennis because she enjoys the competition. She also spends her free time working on the Bay Area Lyme foundation, which she started with friends in 2010 and is now the largest private funder of Lyme disease research in the United States.
She says having these outlets to go to after work is not only a healthy way to relax, but it also makes employees more engaged at work. "I've learned that we are all much better and more productive at our jobs when we have a release outside of work," she concludes.
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