If you're considering introducing an employee wellness plan, you're undoubtedly wondering if it's something your company can afford and what the benefits are. Although large organizations may have the resources to implement a complete program, small and mid-sized businesses must stretch their budgets further and ensure that every dollar spent on an employee benefit helps the business somehow. Fortunately, employee wellness programs come in various shapes and sizes, so you will definitely find initiatives that suit your organization's needs.
Its common knowledge that happy and healthy employees are more productive, so companies seek innovative methods to engage and motivate their workforce through workplace wellness initiatives.
However, many firms struggle to know where to begin. Companies risk squandering time, money, and resources on wellness initiatives that don't succeed since so many diverse workplace wellness programs, ideas, and techniques are available.
What is an Employee Wellness Program?
Employee wellness programs or wellness plans are a type of health benefit that many organizations offer in addition to health insurance in one form or another. A wellness program is defined as one that assists employees in staying healthy or, in some situations, improving their health. Wellness program ideas can range from concepts with a specific goal in mind, such as assisting employees in quitting smoking or losing weight, onsite gyms or gym memberships, and incentive programs that reward participation or achieve the intended objectives.
11 Examples of Employee Wellness Programs
1. Encourage healthy eating habits
Employees with good nutrition have more energy, productivity, and focus. Healthy snack alternatives such as fruits, veggies, and cereal can be offered. Many employees nibble at their desks throughout the day and normally snack on junk food. Your organization can encourage its employees to eat healthier snacks and drink more water by providing only healthy snacks and water. More nutritious snacks at the office have been shown to enhance concentration.
You might also try less common activities like healthy catered lunches, conducting a cooking class, and inviting staff to contribute their favorite healthy recipes to a workplace cookbook. These activities can help enhance employee engagement and morale and assist employees in making healthier eating choices.
2. Mental Health initiatives
Employee health surveys frequently list mental health issues including stress, anxiety, and depression as top concerns, and they are the second biggest cause of absenteeism at work. Even mild depression or anxiety symptoms might have an impact on work performance.
The majority of employees feel that their mental and personal issues cross over into their work lives and directly impact their productivity. Addressing mental health as part of a wellness program should be prioritized by organizations.
Employers can demonstrate their interest in mental wellness at work by providing free or discounted therapy sessions and mindfulness or meditation programs. Consider holding a wellness session to help staff relax and bond with one another. Organizations should also raise awareness of mental illness prevention, suicide prevention, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
3. Fitness Activities
Exercise is a terrific approach for employees to relieve stress, and it should be included in every company's wellness program. Whether it's organizing a 5-a-side football team or offering yoga sessions in the office, encouraging employees to engage in physical activity at work is an effective method to boost mental wellness. You can also promote physical fitness at work by having walking meetings and hosting regular fitness competitions. Plus, it doesn't have to be expensive - one of your employees can even organize a lunchtime wellness activity at work.
Fitness activities should not be boring but fun. Here are a few examples of fun fitness activities:
- Cycle to work challenge
- Workplace walkathon challenge
- 7-minute workout challenge
- Stair climbing challenge
4. Ergonomic Office Environment
An ergonomic workplace can help employees feel more at ease while reducing discomfort and injuries. It also helps in preventing Repetitive Strain Injuries. Provide ergonomic chairs, workstations, office equipment such as raised keyboards, and ergonomic training to your employees to create an ergonomic working atmosphere. Natural light should also be considered in the workplace as it helps in improving a healthy workplace.
5. Flexible working hours
Flexible work hours might help your staff feel less stressed and achieve a better work-life balance. Why are you forcing your employee to work long hours if their job doesn't require them to? Let's face it: many jobs are no longer bound by the old 40-hour workweek standard. And when your staff are working with children, sharing a vehicle, or scheduling college courses, that timetable is likely to be a headache.
Allowing flexible working hours when suitable might help relieve some of your team's everyday stress and focus on employee wellness. Allowing an employee to change their schedule by just one hour could have a huge effect. You could even give them the option of working four days each week. Which employee is more productive: one who arrives at work flustered or calm and eager to get down to business?
Why not provide your team with the option of working remotely in addition to flexible working hours? While it is not appropriate for every case (or every employee), most companies have at least some responsibilities that can be performed remotely, making this an excellent choice for an employee wellness program. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that remote work may be effective. Employees who have the opportunity to work from home — even if only occasionally – are happier, according to statistics. Think about how many calls you get during flu season (or worse yet, people who come to work sick.) How often does bad weather delay people from going to work?
Furthermore, lack of flexibility toward work-from-home arrangements is one of the main reasons employees leave their employers during the Great Resignation. According to a FlexJobs survey, 58 percent of respondents said they would "definitely" hunt for a new job if they could not continue working remotely in their current position.
6. Social Events
Social activities can inspire employees to develop friendships with their co-workers and peers, which has been shown to improve workplace well-being. Companies of all sizes can host social events such as guest lecturers, movie evenings, and networking events; these don't have to be related to your industry. Workplace emotional well-being is sometimes overlooked, and social events can significantly increase employee connections and engagement.
7. Community Service Activities
Many people feel good and fulfilled when they do nice things and help others. Employers can plan a day for their employees to volunteer in the community. Employees might organize fundraisers and support groups for subjects they care about. These kinds of activities also help employees form closer bonds.
Take advice from individuals who have already volunteered within your organization. They can assist you in making this employee wellness initiative a success. Learn about the different organizations in your region and collaborate with them to arrange a volunteer opportunity for your company.
8. Financial and Non-financial Incentives
Employee involvement in your employee wellness program is critical to getting the most out of your investment. Offering incentives to encourage employees to participate in various aspects of your employee wellness program is one method to accomplish this. Bonuses, gift cards, and an extra vacation day are all examples of incentives you might provide.
9. Celebrate employee success
No matter how big or small, meeting company objectives should be celebrated. Humans naturally want to be recognized when they make an achievement. Failure to acknowledge one's good deeds will lack of motivation when the next task or project is assigned.
Celebrating employee success will show your staff that you care about them and value their hard work. Trips, local outings, in-office parties, or even a simple mention in the monthly newsletter can all help
Do not forget to brag about your team's achievements outside of the office. You can make a press release, an article, or a video to let everyone know.
10. Parent coaching and support
Parenting is difficult. Working parents face unique problems, particularly in the digital era, when work follows you everywhere. Every organization should provide this type of employee wellness program.
Parent coaching can help your employees achieve a better work-life balance while enhancing their relationships with their families. Employees with a positive home life are more engaged and motivated at work.
You may also consider forming a working parent employee resource group, (ERG). Culture Amp, has an ERG called Camp Carebears, which is focused on helping employees with caregiving duties to be more successful in the long run.
11. Financial Education
Everyone experiences financial stress at some point. Financial stress can affect every aspect of your life, including your career. If an employee is stressed out about money, there's a significant possibility they're not engaged at work and don't have time to focus on their health.
Financial education for your staff can help ease this stress while also giving them valuable life skills, which they will enjoy. Employees can benefit from learning about budgeting, investing, and retirement planning.
Remember that your organization is likely made up of people from many walks of life, from recent college graduates to seasoned employees nearing retirement. Customize your financial education and employee wellness programs to reflect this.
What are the benefits of an employee wellness program?
You are now equipped with employee wellness program ideas. How then will your organization benefit from such initiatives? Here are some of the advantages:
- Increased productivity: Employees who eat well and exercise regularly are more likely to be productive than those who do not. Poor health habits are frequently linked to high levels of inefficiency, leading to increased health risks and chronic diseases. Nowadays, sitting is the new smoking and a back muscles workout can do wonders for preventing the famous Office Syndrome.
- Improved recruitment and retention of employees: Good wellness initiatives will assist businesses in hiring and retaining the best staff. When it comes to choosing a job, many people are swayed by the presence of health and other benefits. Employee wellness programs also help to keep employees loyal.
- High employee morale: Employees feel appreciated and valued when participating in wellness programs. When employees feel appreciated and respected by their employers, they are happy. Employees are frequently more enthusiastic at work when wellness programs are available.
- Reduction in absenteeism: Workplaces with comprehensive wellness programs have lower absenteeism rates because their employees are healthier and less stressed, resulting in cost savings.
- Reduced health risk: Helping employees develop healthy habits like eating well, exercising regularly, and not smoking reduces health risks. Healthcare expenditures are lowered when health risks are low.
Management must lead and advocate health and wellness initiatives in the workplace to be successful. Managers and team leaders must work together to foster a company culture that prioritizes employee wellness by encouraging their employees to engage in mental health and well-being activities at work.
To ensure that corporate wellness programs are successful, management must also lead by example, participating in staff health initiatives such as lunchtime meditation sessions and after-work yoga courses.
Nicole Chimwamafuku is a Finance, Strategy and Performance Management Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
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