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Enjoying Massage in the Workplace

Your first reaction to the thought of massage at work may be less than positive for several reasons. As you contemplate the idea, you may come up with some of the following:

  • Can I really handle the thought of my coworkers lining up to get undressed and rubbed with almond oil in the employee lounge?
  • What will my (wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend, and so on) say?
  • Won't the boss think that this kind of massage is a waste of time? Or, if you're the boss: Won't my employees take advantage of this and turn the office into a massage parlor?
  • Will I be in an awkward position on a table or chair and look stupid while receiving a massage at work?
  • How much will the massage cost?
  • Will it mess up my hair?

These concerns are all rational; research and experience can go a long way toward calming your concerns — and helping you appreciate a refreshing, healing power of touch.

Braving the benefits

What does corporate massage look like, anyway? Well, imagine this scenario: It's late on a Friday afternoon. Your whole department has been under intense pressure to wrap up that humongous project you've been working on for months. Nerves are frayed. Happy hour is looming. No one can think about anything but escape. Then right at 4 p.m., in walks a healthy-looking individual toting a strange, padded, chair-like contraption that he proceeds to unfold over in one corner. This is the "corporate massage" that your boss promised.

One brave soul offers to go first, and the rest of you watch while he sits down — fully clothed — on the device, which seems to support all of his weight easily at the knees, elbows, chest, and head. As he leans forward and relaxes, you can feel the pressure on your own limbs start to dissipate, too. The massage therapist begins with some strong kneading of the shoulders and upper back.

"Ahh, this is great!" roars your co-worker through the circular face rest. Quietly, but quickly, people start to drift over to that side of the room, and soon a line begins to form. One after another, everyone is treated to ten minutes of much-needed relief, and a funny thing starts to happen. Happy hour is no longer calling so urgently. As you stand around chatting with newly relaxed colleagues, the ideas begin to flow again, and you end up staying until after 7 p.m., coming up with a few great new concepts that will make this project even better.

Yes, scenarios like this one can actually occur. Massage in the workplace has many such benefits, including the following:

  • Increases employee morale
  • Lowers stress
  • Decreases overuse injuries
  • Provides some high-touch to counterbalance high-tech environments
  • Offers employees something new and different

The benefits of this type of massage quickly outweigh the concerns:

  • Nobody has to undress, and if they really don't want their hair messed up, they just have ask the massage therapist not to massage their head.
  • The massage is usually given in a public space and is very conservative.
  • The boss realizes that happy employees are productive employees.
  • Employees who receive this extra benefit are more likely to feel grateful and be more responsible.

Paying for the privilege

So you're left with one last issue — who pays for all this? Normally, payment is handled in one of three ways:

  • The company pays: This scenario, which is the most common, allows employees to forget about whether or not they can afford the massage, and it makes the boss look great.
  • Everyone contributes to a pool: This scenario is less common, but some companies still choose it. Pulling those few dollars out of your pocket may hurt at first, but what you receive is better for you than the typical office-pool birthday cakes.
  • Everyone pays separately: This scenario is the least common. Though it may prove quite popular, paying separately often leaves people feeling a little at loose ends. Should they pay? Should they not pay?

No matter what the scenario, the massage therapists often appreciate tips, unless everyone is aware that a service charge has been added up front. Either way, the massage more than pays for itself almost immediately. A massage pro brought in once a week or once a month can truly upgrade the total work experience of everyone involved.

Call a local corporate massage provider and ask him to come in for a free "demo-day." With the prospect of potentially gaining a new, ongoing client, he'll probably be eager for the opportunity to prove how good he is with no investment on your part. This approach is also a way to convince your boss that the expense involved is worth the improved morale and productivity. This situation is win-win-win: The massage provider wins new business. Your boss wins happier workers. And you win as the hero who introduced this great new idea to your coworkers.

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