Can CEO Leslie Danziger afford to worry about her employees' stress levels when her company, LightPath Technologies, isn't making money yet? For about 10 years LightPath, in Tucson, has been developing a special type of glass. The research recently bore fruit, and LightPath is transforming itself into a real business.
Though most companies at the same stage would be obsessed with sales, Danziger takes time to foster a healthy company culture as well as build revenues. "We have to acknowledge that this is important, too," she says. "In the long run, it will pay off in better teamwork and, yes, in sales."
Danziger encourages everyone to talk about problems at the company and to take responsibility for them. She applies the same philosophy to stress, urging employees not to ignore it and not to pass it along to coworkers but to communicate their frustration. In 1992 she brought in a teacher to lead weekly meditation sessions and to remain on call for individual training. About half of LightPath's 18 employees took part, but eventually, the budget could no longer carry the extra $500 a month the program cost.
But Danziger had sparked interest among LightPath's employees, and on their own, they found a low-cost substitute: a nearby community center with exercise facilities and three weekly classes in yoga. Danziger arranged a corporate membership, which cost the company nothing but guaranteed its employees a reduced rate of about $20 a month. Danziger likes that arrangement better than the on-site classes because there's less pressure to participate. "And it's a social center," she adds, "which is good because we've got a lot of single men working here!"* * *