How to Create an Employee Wellness Program to Promote Workplace Health
Some hardworking people prioritize their job over health. They skip lunch and stay up late to get the job done. They don’t have time to exercise because they work all the time. And they never take a sick or personal day.
This is an admiral yet foolish approach to work. Personal health always needs to come first. It’s the key to living a long and fulfilling life.
Being in good physical and mental shape also sets a person up to be great at their job. Many companies understand this and offer their employees a series of benefits and activities that promote health and well-being. This is known as an employee wellness program.
In this business guides, you’ll learn the advantages of a wellness program and the steps for implementing one in your company.
What are the benefits of a wellness program?
It can be hard to see the advantages of an employee wellness program at first glance. But the truth is healthy employees bring an array of benefits to the businesses they work for. Here are a few benefits of having an employee wellness program.
- More productive employees
There are numerous studies that suggest a healthy lifestyle correlates with increased productivity. Don’t believe us? Next time you hit a rut, get your heart rate up and you’ll likely get back in the zone.
- Less office stress
Too many people and companies accept workplace stress as the norm. But it leads to burnout, which can result in higher employee turnover.
- Less colds, flu and other illnesses
Everyone knows healthy practices prevents illness. And business proceeds as usual when less sick days are taken.
- Fewer office-related injuries
Taking a break to exercise or just stretch prevents common office injuries, resulting in fewer worker compensation claims.
- Happier employees
Offering a wellness program leads to happier employees. They’ll appreciate the benefit and be generally positive because they’re leading a healthy life.
What to include in an employee wellness program
Gym membership reimbursements or office yoga classes might come to mind when someone thinks of an employee wellness program. These are great activities to offer but a quality program can include so much more. Here are some activities and benefits you can offer that cover all areas of employee health.
Anyone who works 40+ hours per week in an office setting needs to find time to move around and exercise. Some companies are fortunate enough to have an on-site gym or fitness classes but these perks aren’t feasible for most.
You can instead reimburse employees for fitness-related purchases or encourage your staff to form after-work exercise groups. Another idea is to use Fitbits or other wearable technology to track the activity of your employees and reward the most active people.
General health benefits
Exercise is good for the immune system but there is more you can to do to help your employees fight off illness.
During the winter, you can offer flu shots and make it known that employees are to stay home if they have a bug. It’s also a good idea to have a stocked first aid kit and a private “wellness room” where people can tend to personal health needs.
Mental health & stress-release activities
Stress is a silent killer that can trigger serious health problems. It also goes hand-in-hand with mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
First and foremost, make sure no one is burning the candle on both ends. You can institute an office closing time to ensure everyone leaves at a reasonable hour. You can also require employees to take time off when they’ve incurred a certain number of PTO days.
And you can of course offer activities like yoga classes and massages that help people with mindfulness while working.
Some employees prefer to sweat and blow off steam on their own and that’s totally fine. However, they still may enjoy activities that help them get to know their colleagues better.
Consider offering social activities like an office book club, game nights and whatever else your employee enjoy doing. Smiling and laughing is an important part of health too.
Community service activities
Many people feel good when they help others. Doing good deeds is fulfilling and can help keep things in perspective.
You can organize a volunteer day for your staff to go into the community and help out. You can also encourage your employees to organize groups and fundraisers for causes that mean a lot to them.
Team building activities
One of the secondary benefits of a wellness program is that many of activities strengthen the bonds between team members.
An after work jogging group, a book club and volunteer days will all make your employees closer than they were before.
How to create an employee wellness program
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of a wellness program and what to include, let’s talk about how you can implement a successful program. Here are some basic steps for getting an employee wellness program going in your workplace.
- Set goals that benefit the company & staff
Creating a wellness program is a fun project project but don’t lose sight of why you’re doing it. Make sure every part of your program benefits both the company and staff.
- Form a team to create the employee wellness program
Creating a comprehensive wellness program can take a lot of work and a long time so it’s a good idea to put a team on the project. The team will likely be lead by HR but should also include executives, people from finance and others who are interested in promoting a healthy workplace.
- Get to work planning the program
With your team in place, start planning what your program should look like. Form a budget, research ideas and get input from your employees. When the time is right, call a company-wide meeting to announce the new wellness program and get into the details. Make sure your employees know everything it includes so they can they can get the most out it.
- Get feedback and optimize your wellness program
A successful employee wellness program is never done. Your team should always be open to feedback and new ideas so the program improves and employees get even healthier.
Healthy employees means a healthy business
An employee wellness program is more than just a cool employee perk. It’s an effective way to ensure your employees are in the right shape to do their best work.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out our blog post "Companies Can and Should Take on Employee Stress"