Profile: Jennifer Wraith of Sierra Nevada Brewery
“I just thought I would show people how to take care of themselves.”
How do you define the culture at Sierra Nevada?
People have a lot of pride working for the brewery, and a lot of people from Chico try and get jobs here. When they do there is a feeling that they’ve made it and are part of the family. But like any family, there are the challenges of keeping it balanced. For us, it’s the balance between the celebration of making beer, and keeping it in check so our folks can stay healthy.
Sierra Nevada has five values. Which do you feel is most important?
Our values are Quality, Integrity, Sustainability (which we are best known for,) Community, and People. People is the value that I work most closely with. I believe that people want to feel intrinsically motivated by the right things. It’s great to work for a company that is viewed by the community as doing the right thing. As a purpose-driver for our culture, that’s one of the main pillars.
What drives you personally?
My drive is to keep myself healthy. Before this role, I had never had a 40-hour-a week-job. I have been a massage therapist for 17 years. But I was a little bit of a gypsy. I worked at a number of different resort towns. Seattle, Lake Tahoe, I lived in the Big Island of Hawaii for 8 years, I spent 9 months living in Bali. I had a very flexible schedule and so it was much easier to stay healthy. When I first came to the brewery, I just thought I would show people how to take care of themselves. I came in with a little bit of judgment, not really understanding what was so hard. But now, living it and seeing others live it, I understand that jobs, family, day-to-day responsibilities, stress, all make it very challenging to take care of yourself everyday.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I attended the WELCOA (The Wellness Council of America) Summit earlier this year, which was amazing. It was great to get a pulse on the wellness industry is going. We’re moving towards bringing the heart and soul back into programs. Not just focusing on exercise and food, but understanding the stressors in people’s life. Things like relationship, financial problems or caring for an aging parent. These stressors cause many people to do things like eating poorly, or drinking a bottle of wine, or not sleeping well, instead of choosing a buffer like going to yoga or for a run. That conference helped me to come back and look at where we might have holes in our program.
How do you know if you are achieving a culture of wellness?
We don’t run a ton of metrics. We don’t talk about if we are getting a good return on our financial investment in wellness. Wellness is such a huge part of the culture now, that it’s here to stay. It will only grow. The Grossman family (the founders of Sierra Nevada) truly believe that wellness isn’t just about having a HR program that keeps up with what everyone else is doing. It’s much more about taking care of people. The culture of wellness stems from their family’s values. And from the action team of managers on the ground, who model positive behaviors and encourage their teams everyday to get involved in the offerings we have.