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Hyperice CEO: Mental health devices can help ‘1 million individuals’

Hyperice CEO Jim Huether joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the health company's acquisition of a mental wellbeing product.

Video Transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: Mental Health Awareness Month has passed, but more than 100 US companies are keeping the focus on employees' mental health. Hyperice, who makes massage guns, among other products, together with Gatorade, Equinox, PGA TOUR, UFC, and others, formed the Workplace Alliance. Hyperice CEO Jim Huether is here to tell us about that. Jim, it's good to see you. What are you doing to improve mental health in the workplace? And what made you come around to that?

JIM HUETHER: Yeah, thank you for having me on, first off. Happy to be here. This was a big initiative for us. We made an acquisition last year in 2021 around Core, which was a mental wellness and breath training device that was very innovative.

And over the past six to 12 months, as we've seen kind of the post-pandemic era, so to speak, and moving into a new era, we've realized that we could address the workplace in a really meaningful way. There's a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress in the workforce. And we felt like we could make a tangible impact. So we brought on a variety of companies, very progressive companies, that joined this initiative. And our plan is to address over one million individuals and then measurably impact them by 2024.

SEANA SMITH: And how do you do that?

JIM HUETHER: Yeah, so it's a combination. And we have great partners. You mentioned some of them-- Select Medical, Equinox, PGA TOUR, Major League Baseball joining forces. But we start with the device and the technology. And we're actually allowing the workplace environment an opportunity to see dashboards around how it's improving mental strength, how it's improving performance, and how we're reducing stress. So the product actually has biosensors built in that measure your heart rate. And it's using an ECG sensor where we can actually get medical grade data and actually impact the way that somebody is responding to meditation and breath training. So it's never been done before in this capacity, and we've seen unbelievable results.

DAVE BRIGGS: And beyond the device, are you encouraging mental health activities in the workplace?

JIM HUETHER: Yes, yes, so we're working with each individual company to develop kind of an individual platform for their company. So it starts by the onboarding with their HR executive, whoever it might be. And we address different elements within their company that they think they can improve. So some companies might prioritize mental strength. Others might say, hey, we want to reduce anxiety. Others may say, we really want to improve performance or decrease stress.

And it's a combination of things working with them so that we can basically implement something that they feel would be effective for their workplace. And we're also-- I think one of the most important initiatives here, the most important elements is that we're getting more people to be aware of how impactful this can be and how important it is. And when you think about a company and looking at retention numbers and making sure their workplace populations are feeling good in their environment, they see the impact very, very quickly.

SEANA SMITH: Jim, what's the feedback that you're getting from your employees within Hyperice? You're spending more of the time focusing on mental health. What has that been like? And what are you hearing from your employees?

JIM HUETHER: Yeah, and our company, Hyperice, we were the very first to roll out this workplace platform. So we had about 150 employees internally go through the platform. We learned a lot from that platform. But I think this was a big move for us. When we made the acquisition in 2021, it was transformational. A lot of people said at that time, hey, Hyperice, you make physical wellness tools. Like, you don't have the right to go into mental wellness. And we felt the opposite. We felt like because of our distribution, because of our position in the market as being innovative, that physical health and mental health really were synergistic.

And if we could elevate the mental side of things, we could elevate physical. And if we could elevate physical, we could improve mental. So I think it's been received really well with our internal population. A lot of employees have reached out to me personally and said it was one of the most exciting things we've ever done to enter the space in a really meaningful way. And we're just at the beginning of where we really want to go with this.

DAVE BRIGGS: I think that's a major misconception. Yes, physical and mental health go very much hand in hand. One of the big stressors today, in particular, impacting workers' mental health is return to office. And a lot of people talked about Elon Musk, saying, uh-uh, not in my company. If you don't want to return to office, go somewhere else. Why do you think that is stressing out workers so much? And what's your return to office policy?

JIM HUETHER: Yeah, so ours right now, we call it a hybrid, kind of a flexible hybrid remote policy. So right now, it's two days a week. And we may go to three days a week. And there's some flexibility on days that they pick. We do believe that collaboration in office is really important. So we encourage our employees during those days to be more collaborative and have team meetings and to learn and to teach and to motivate. But we also understand that the flexible environment, especially in a period of time where it's been two years since a lot of companies have been back, there needs to be some time for employees to really get comfortable with that change, so to speak.

So I think all of these things really play into the-- people have called it the mental health crisis, so to speak. There's just a lot of change in the environment. And that's one of the reasons that what we're doing in the workplace is so imperative and important. And we believe that we're going to learn more about the individual through this platform. This is what we believe to be the largest biometric study, so to speak.

We're trying to get 500 companies engaged in the next 120 days. And we're going to learn from this, and we're going to share our data for those companies that want data shared. And hopefully, many can learn about what the pandemic has done to individuals, how people are feeling, and how we can dramatically improve stress and anxiety in the workforce.

SEANA SMITH: Jim, just share firsthand what it's been like leading a company like Hyperice through this transition period when we're hearing different feedback from workers. They want more flexibility. You still want to have a strong culture at the core of your company. How have you navigated that?

JIM HUETHER: It's been a challenge. I mean, it's definitely been challenging. Not going to sugarcoat that. I think that you have to, as a CEO or a leader, kind of really identify what you think is important to both the company and the employees in the best place for success. And for us, we do believe strongly, myself and the leadership team, that collaboration is important, young employees learning from managers, growing in the organization. We've always preached that we want this to be a place where you can grow, learn, and expand your career objectives. And so, we do think that that's important.

But I think you really have to think about all elements. You have to think about the business needs, the employee needs. And you just have to think about how people are perceiving different decisions you're making a lot more than you used to, right? Every decision that's made is interpreted in a variety of different ways. So I think we're spending a lot more time making the decisions, return to work, policies, procedures, the way we're positioning mental health, than we would two to three years ago.

DAVE BRIGGS: All right, Hyperice CEO Jim Huether, appreciate you joining us today. Thank you.