A #SHRM17 Interview with Leo Ranieri, President of Massage at Work



As a longtime believer in the benefits of massage to overall health, I was intrigued to read about SHRM Exhibitor, Massage at Work.  Particularly interesting to me was the correlation drawn between massage and the reduction of absenteeism and stress levels at work.

While I’m lucky enough to be able to fit massage within my budget, the concept of bringing massage into the workplace as an employee benefit resonated with me.

Given my interest, interviewing Leo Ranieri, the President of Massage at Work, was a natural fit for my first #SHRM17 blog.

I started by asking Leo to "tell me a little bit about your background and how it led to your decision to start Massage at Work?"

Here’s what Leo had to say:

I saw first-hand how strongly employee appreciation relates to successful corporate cultures and heightened profitability. I found that the more appreciated employees felt, the less stressed, the more creative and productive they were. It made perfect sense.

I kept thinking about it and searched for a single wellness solution that could address the sometimes divergent needs of employees and companies. After studying the field, I focused on the physical and mental/emotional health benefits of massage, received certification as a Licensed Massage Therapist in New Jersey, New York and nationally and, while practicing, launched Massage At Work, LLC, in 2005.

I feel that my corporate human resources background affords me a rare perspective among providers of corporate chair massage, enabling me to anticipate requirements of organizations of all sizes and partner effectively with executives at all levels.

I feel very blessed to have found a vocation that allows me to do so much to help so many.

I then turned to some particular questions I had about Massages at Work.  Leo’s answers are quite informative. Here are Leo’s answers to my questions:

1.  What’s your favorite story about a client’s employee whose life was changed by the massage treatments provided by one of your therapists? 

I returned to a client’s office after a year and one of their employees told me they are no longer living in pain since I massaged her last year.  She was so grateful and I was so amazed to have helped.

2.  When you talk to potential clients, what is the most difficult hurdle to jump over to close the deal? 

Historically, the issue was that massage in the workplace was seen as a luxury benefit, a warm and fuzzy feel-good frill. But, now that multiple studies have proven massage reduces stress, which companies have come to understand is very destructive both to employee health and their bottom lines, that's not so much an issue. (Massage is now a well-accepted treatment for disorders that drain corporate profitability, such as back and neck pain and repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. It's proven to reduce stress, which boosts immunity, to lessen fatigue and anxiety and to promote employee engagement. Plus, it releases the same kind of feel-good endorphins as an intense work-out – without the work.)

3.  Has the advent of wellness programs made a difference in how difficult it is to convince potential clients to sign up? 

Now that more companies have seen the bottom line benefits of wellness programs, there's less difficulty convincing potential clients to include massage. Once they hear about the low cost of our in-office chair massage programs and understand that on site massage can inspire employees to participate in other healthy lifestyle initiatives, it isn't such a tough sell.

4.  Massage at Work provides custom-tailored chair massage programs.  Does that mean that if employees have, for example, a sore leg, they cannot get therapy? 

It would depend on what was wrong with their leg and whether the therapist thought that it was something that could be helped with massage. The chairs that are used are designed to allow the therapist to work most on the neck, shoulders and back, but they can also reach someone's leg if, say, it was sore from a work-out the day before. 

5.  How do your therapists handle situations when they determine that an employee’s condition is something that needs medical treatment? 

That's a great question. All the therapists we work with are licensed massage professionals with current insurance and licenses. They are trained to be able to discern when a sore leg may indicate a blood clot, rather than simply an overworked muscle from a day-before work-out. In that case, they would definitely refer the person to a physician rather than massaging him or her.

If all of this has not peeked your interest to visit the Massage at Work (Booth #2738) in the #SHRM17 Exhibition Hall, the fact that Leo is bringing two massage therapists with him to the conference should give you some added incentive to meet Leo and his team.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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