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Work hard, play hard: Troy company gets employees dancing, and boosts productivity

Reid McClellan, Digital Media Producer at United Shore
Conga lines, Thriller choreography and lipsync contests have all been part of United Shore's company breaks.

So many people spend their days sitting – and sitting a lot.

People who work desk jobs might spend a minimum of eight hours a day sitting hunched over a desk. I’m doing it now as I write.

Credit Lindsey Scullen/Michigan Radio
United Shore takes dance breaks each week to keep employees happy in their work environment, says Chief People Officer Laura Lawson.

Experts like Rebecca Hasson, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Schools of Kinesiology and Public Health, say this much sitting could increase risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, and even cancer.

So, some companies are taking strides to keep employees moving throughout the day. Some have gyms onsite. Some hand out Fitbits.

And then there’s United Shore, a wholesale mortgage company in Troy. Employees there take a 15-minute dance break every Thursday at three.

Check it out:


It all begins with David Poppe. He’s an engagement specialist at United Shore. His job is to make sure team members collaborate and have fun together.

“You know, I noticed that every day my team would get a little groggy and kind of quiet around three o’clock, so I just got them up for like five minutes and we danced and moved around and kind of got the blood flowing,” Poppe said. “And people around us started getting up too and doing it. It just kind of became a thing – at three o’clock, we just do this.”

"It gets scary to say like 'OK, let's stop production, let's do that.' But totally do it and know that it's not taking away from production, but you're adding into employee satisfaction and happiness, so they're going to get so much from that."

Poppe is on a dance floor in the middle of a big office space. He’s surrounded by desks, a DJ and well-dressed employees.

“You guys can’t hide back there,” he says. “No hiding.”

He’s beckoning people to dance. And soon, they do.

“Sitting all day long is rough on the legs, so getting up, moving the blood around a little bit, especially during the end of the week is nice, definitely nice,” says account executive Evan Martin.

Communications manager Cristin Lazzaro is also in the crowd.

She helps dance break mastermind David Poppe by “dancing at all times and hopefully enticing people to come onto the dance floor.”

“It gets scary to say like OK, 'Let’s stop production, let’s do that,’” she says. “But totally do it and know that it’s not taking away from production but you’re adding into employee satisfaction and happiness, so they’re going to get so much from that.”

Credit Lindsey Scullen/Michigan Radio
David Poppe, the mastermind behind United Shore's dance breaks.

Sales team leader Que Broden is breaking it down when I find her.

“I love United Shore, it’s my favorite place ever to work in life,” Broden says over the music. “Because we get to have a break every Thursday at three o’clock, we know we get to let loose for the entire week.”

Poppe says letting loose – or “getting the blood flowing” – is his favorite part of the dance breaks.

“Your brain’s working again, your mouth is working again, you’re listening to your clients better, you’re listening to each other better,” he says. “It’s a better opportunity to help each other out and make a better experience for everyone.”

Kristen Lazzaro agrees with Poppe – she says these dance breaks make employees more productive by getting them out of their seats.

Plus, she says, “It just feels flippin’ good."