Why Promote Wellness In The Workplace?
With the holiday season well underway, chances are, your employees are feeling the pressure of prioritization. Attempting to balance family, work, and personal health can feel like an impossible task. Needless to say, healthy habits are often the first to go. Social pressure to join in the second-helping holiday festivities, stress over holiday commitments, and broken routines, such as travel or working overtime, can all contribute to the formation of guilt-rendering holiday habits. This can cause dismal aftereffects on company morale, fatigue, and employee productivity, turning holiday merriment sour. For this reason, among many others, employee wellness programs are popping up everywhere, as a tried and true strategy for promoting holiday cheer without the holiday pounds.
Wellness Programs Benefit Companies and Employees
If you don’t already offer your employees a wellness program, you may not be aware of how positively wellness programs impact employees and companies. Wellness programs are surprisingly easy to implement, with the responsibility often shared between various departments, such as HR, or a committee, and are often impactful right from the start. Here are some of the benefits of beginning a company wellness program.
Competitive perks and company savings
In addition to enhancing company values like wellness and employee support, Studies show that wellness programs can generate a savings of anywhere from about $2 to $3.5 for every $1 spent, proving that these programs can be continually beneficial for company budgets.
Offering attractive wellness programs also helps companies stand out when competing for new hires, as only 7% of companies offer comprehensive wellness programs. Because of this, great wellness perks can help companies with lower salary budgets stay competitive. Offering a comprehensive wellness program to new hires can sweeten the deal.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, found that 40% of all employees feel burnt out or pressured to the point of anxiety, depression, and disease. Over the holiday season especially, this number rises. This poses a huge problem to company budget and morale.
While emotional wellbeing and productivity are difficult to quantify, a study called “The Wellness Effect: the Impact of Workplace Programs”, reported that 89% of employees working at companies with wellness programs reported that participation improved their overall happiness and wellbeing. In the same study, 71% of employees also stated that wellness programs had at least a moderate impact on stress reduction.
According to a recent employer survey, more than 90% of business leaders admit that promoting wellness can affect employee productivity and performance. In addition, higher engagement translates to stronger loyalty and greater employee retention over time, saving companies time, money, and resources.
How to Implement a Wellness Program on Any Budget
One of the best qualities of a wellness program is that it doesn’t require a certain budget to start. While some companies develop extravagant wellness programs to provide generous benefits and large-scale employee activities, others stick to the basics, at little to no cost. Whatever the budget, companies can develop impactful employee wellness programs that benefit both companies and employees.
When first implementing a wellness program, it’s important to spend some time finding out what motivates the employees. If unsure, a company can implement low budget activities first to gauge if employees respond best to group goals, individual goals, or group competition (see “Introduce activities into meetings” below for an example of this type of competition).
Here are some ideas on wellness program activities and perks for companies with low, mid, or high budgets.
Low Budget Wellness Plan
A low budget wellness program doesn’t have to be less impactful than a high budget program. Oftentimes, it just requires more creativity. Here are a few tried and true activities for low budget wellness programs.
- Introduce activities into meetings: Turn one meeting a week into a walking-meeting.
- Designate a “safe” space: Give your employees a space where they can maintain their mental health by having alone time when they need it.
- Flexible work schedules: Promote healthy work life balance by giving employees some control over their schedule. This may involve allowing employees the freedom to take long lunches, arrive to work later, or work from home.
- Workplace challenges: Challenge your employees to bike to work or take the stairs in the office.
- Individual goals: Have each employee keep a tally of how many times they use the stairs in a given week. Encourage them to climb more stairs than their last month to set a personal record. Make it interesting by allotting Mondays “Double Stairs Day”.
- Group competition: Split your office into teams and compete on which team can climb the most stairs in any given week. Offer to buy coffee or lunch for the winning team.
- Group goals: Set a goal for total number of stairs climbed. Once the company hits that goal, give them a reward like an office party, gift cards, or a “bring your pet to work” day.
- Provide healthy snacks: Offer healthy snacks like fruit and granola bars for free in the office. Ask local healthy snack companies about discounts for featuring their snacks exclusively.
- Throw an employee/management competition: Purchase basic pedometers (if you can’t afford one for every employee, rotate walkers per week), and host competitions. One example for facilitating connection between the CEO and employees is throwing an “outstep the CEO” competition. Offer gift cards to employees or departments when they complete more recorded steps than the CEO in a given time period.
Mid Budget Wellness Plan
- Play + hooky: Let one department play hooky for an afternoon to engage in a fun, lively, activity. Consider activities like mini-golf, laser tag, or bowling to get people of all skill and fitness levels engaged.
- In-house yoga: Hire a yoga instructor to lead a weekly yoga class in the office, and offer it free to employees.
- Charity rewards: Choose a yearly charity race 5k or 10k to support. Find a race benefitting a charity that resonates with employees, or reinforces company values. Offer free admission to any employee wanting to participate, and/or reward 1 hour of extra PTO for every mile an employee runs in that race. Many charity events offer team discounts and tax breaks.
- Gym memberships: Partner with a gym close to work and offer free or discounted memberships to employees. Most gyms offer corporate discounts.
- Fitness technology: Give employees fit bits as performance bonuses, memberships to fitness tracking programs, or reimbursement or discounts for fitness-related gear.
High budget Wellness Program
- Wellness retreats: Offering corporate wellness retreats to employees can help motivate employees to live healthier, wholesome lives through nutrition education, fitness classes, and active adventures. For more on wellness retreats, here’s a list of some examples.
- Onsite fitness facilities: Build an onsite gym, tennis courts, or provide treadmill desks to employees.
Implementing a Wellness Program
With the evidence to back it up and a list of example activities for every budget, there’s no reason why a company shouldn’t implement a wellness program. Motivating employees to engage in a wellness program isn’t always immediate, especially if wellness programs are new to the company. However, there are a couple ways to improve the odds of success.
When implementing any new program, leadership commitment is key. Before rolling out a wellness program, have a meeting with the leadership and talk about how everyone can support the goals of the wellness program, helping it to be a company-wide success, and making it a part of company culture.
In addition, know that wellness programs are more successful if companies focus on the positive, rather than the negative. For example, instead of throwing a contest encouraging employees to cut back on soda, focus on encouraging employees to drink more water. As a bonus, the formation of positive habits often results in happier healthier better performing employees.
This holiday season; give employees the gift of health and wellness. Encourage leadership involvement to increase the odds of success, and maintain leadership and employee connection during, what can turn out to be, one of the most stressful times of the year. Promote positive company culture and help employees feel empowered in their career by investing in a wellness program.