Employee wellness program ideas:
- Create healthy competition
- Let people build their own employee wellness program
- Provide seasonal wellness programs
- Expand the definition of wellness
- Remove barriers to wellness
In recent years, wellness programs have been a common part of the business world, with 73% of organizations offering one.
But with more than a quarter of staff members working from home and flexible scheduling becoming more common, fresh employee wellness program ideas that include every employee—both in and out of the office—are a must.
We’ve assembled a few simple program ideas that can be built around your business needs. Bonus: We’ve also included wellness giveaways to encourage participation.
Create healthy competition
Sometimes the best way to build engagement is to include a little “healthy” competition. Staff members can compete in areas like consistency (walking four times a week for a month) or other measures of achievement (walking 100 miles by the end of the month).
Better yet, encourage staff to benchmark themselves at the start of the challenge and at the end, reminding them to celebrate every small victory. This can inspire them to keep going, even after the initial challenge has ended.
Meal planning challenges
When people feel drained, they tend to eat whatever is easiest, even if it isn’t the healthiest option. Meal planning can help encourage better choices.
Challenges you can suggest might include:
- Cook one elaborate meal over the weekend (or whenever there’s time) and then enjoy leftovers during the week.
- Cook and eat at home three, five or seven times in a week.
- Prepare or purchase only healthy snacks.
Give everyone who participates a portion control container set to help with the preparation process.
Set routines for success
We all know it’s important to sleep seven to nine hours nightly, but many people struggle to reach that goal. Having employees establish morning and nighttime routines can help them feel rested and ready for each workday.
Ask each employee to determine what is the best time for them to go to sleep each night and then challenge them to:
- Turn off all electronics 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Create a bedtime routine that involves reading, meditation or another calming way to relax and stick to it.
- Have them set a ‘no-snooze’ rule. A wireless charging clock makes a great gift for employees who take on and conquer eliminating the snooze button from their morning routine.
Get (and stay) organized
While a clean desk might seem like an unusual choice for an employee wellness challenge, it has many benefits. A study revealed that office workers with a tidy desk are 52% more productive and 48% happier.
Motivate employees to organize by handing out desk caddies to help them get started. Hold a fun contest with prizes for “most organized,” “best use of space” and “most improved.” Winners get something fun for their desk, like a wireless charging catch-all or bottle of paper clips.
Let people build their own employee wellness program
It can be difficult to find wellness challenges that appeal to every staff member. Make choosing challenges fun by playing wellness Bingo! Let employees play for their favorites and add wellness giveaways to encourage participation. Examples might include:
- Meditate five minutes daily with Lavender Zen Essential Oil to promote calmness.
- Take a walk or participate in an in-house dance break each day for two weeks. A Rumble Bottle with Bluetooth® Speaker can get employees moving and hydrated.
- Try a yoga video or class using a Fitness Mat with Carrying Case.
- Step away from their desk for lunch with a Lunch Tote Cooler.
- Call a friend they haven’t talked to in a while with Dino Ear Buds with Case so they can be hands-free.
Provide seasonal wellness programs
Let’s face it: The outdoor hike that sounds amazing in the spring and fall is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Likewise, a salad challenge that helps people get their fresh veggies in the summer doesn’t sound as delicious during the fall and winter, when soup and stew sound more appealing.
Instead, encourage trying different wellness ideas based on the season and geography (for example, if your part of the country is prone to harsh winters or a rainy season). Try some of these employee wellness program ideas on for size.
Take an indoor stroll
Even when the snow is falling and wind is blowing, employees can get steps in. Hallways, nearby malls or a church gymnasium make perfect makeshift tracks.
Promote workplace wellness activities with organized group walks during lunch, or before or after work. Throw in a Tap & Track Pedometer Watch to help employees track their progress. You can even hold a drawing for those who consistently meet their 10,000-step goal. A pair of high-end wireless headphones make a great incentive.
Rake or shovel
Yard work can be excellent exercise. According to WebMD®, raking and bagging leaves burns 350 to 450 calories per hour and shoveling burns 400 to 600 calories per hour.
Put these employee wellness activities into overdrive by organizing a team service day. Gather volunteers to complete yard cleanup for your community’s elderly or disabled. Provide participants with logoed beanies or scarves that serve both as a thank you and to give your group a unified look.
Make movement imminent
Let’s face it, it can be hard to stay active during the colder months. Put movement on the agenda by moving frequently used equipment in the office. Things like a trip to the printer can help them get up from their desks and move around.
Want to take it to the next level? Try a team-wide boycott of elevators and front-row parking spaces to promote additional physical activity. And instead of calling, texting, emailing or messaging an internal teammate, encourage walking to their office and having the conversation in person instead.
Organize winter wellness activities
If your team gets together for activities outside of work, offer to host the next one at your neighborhood ice skating or roller rink, sledding hill, or snowshoeing or hiking trail. Provide free or discounted admission to promote participation.
You can even top the night off with a small parting gift—perhaps a tumbler filled with hot cocoa or another favorite beverage.
Employee wellness program ideas that expand the definition of wellness
When many people hear the word “wellness,” their first thought is physical, whether it’s drinking more water or taking a walk. But wellness can take many forms—providing you with unique ways to help your staff help themselves.
In addition to physical wellness, the wheel of wellness offers seven more spokes to build monthly employee wellness program ideas around.
Just how important is mental health? People who have depression are 40% more likely to develop cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Create a simple mental health program by having employees pick two or three items to perform daily and offer wellness giveaways to help them accomplish their goals. Ideas include:
- Remembering to enjoy the small things. Whether it’s fall colors outdoors, a child’s first word or that first cup of coffee in the morning, provide a journal so they can write down what brought them joy each day.
- Doing a good deed. Whether it’s volunteering at a local food bank, helping at a child’s school or just putting extra change in a parking meter that’s about to expire, encourage workers to try to find ways to give back on a regular basis. A planner can help them track their volunteerism and good deeds.
- Spending some time with their pet. A leash will be a daily reminder to get outdoors and get a few steps in. Plus, studies have shown that spending time with animals helps reduce stress. If they don’t have a pet of their own, volunteering at a local shelter can be the next best thing.
This is also an excellent opportunity to remind staff members of the mental health help available to them through your organization.
Environmental wellness programs provide an incentive to clean up areas both personal and communal. Staff members can:
- Declutter their workspace or one or more rooms at home or the office.
- Find ways to reduce their environmental impact, whether they’re finding ways to recycle more things at home or just remembering to take reusable tote bags with them when they go shopping.
- Get involved with a local cleanup opportunity, like an adopt-a-highway program.
With 73% of people stating that money is their number one source of stress, financial wellness is critical.
To help them on their wellness journey, considering holding weekly online classes with personal finance experts. Or arrange for them to meet one-on-one with a financial counselor. And be sure to check with HR and make sure employees are aware of any and all financial programs available through your company, like retirement accounts or healthcare savings.
Intellectual stimulation and a curious mindset are what drive people to learn new things, take on new challenges and progress within your organization.
To help better their intellectual wellness, consider:
- Creating a book club. Whether everyone is reading business books or just the latest bestseller, reading books has been shown to reduce stress and help people live longer.
- Offering classes. Whether you offer internal learning opportunities, an online class or monthly lunch-and-learns, your staff will stretch their brains and learn new skills.
- Encouraging staff to pursue hobbies. Help your staff expand their mental capacity and abilities by encouraging activities from learning how to paint, to cooking a seven-course meal from scratch.
The same way wellness can take many forms, occupational health has many potential areas to consider. Beyond safety measures, this also includes how your staff feels about the work they do and their fellow employees.
Potential points of focus could include:
- Encouraging work/life balance by working with staff to set schedules that prevent them from being “at work” all the time. This can be especially important for staff members working from home.
- Building connections with coworkers through scheduled one-on-one meetings or office events.
- Process updates. Examining how work gets “done” and searching for new and better ways to achieve results.
- Providing training and equipment that improves the ergonomics of the office or factory setting to reduce musculoskeletal injuries.
- Health and safety on the factory floor. This could consist of everything from updating safety measures to offering safety training.
- Focus on the future. Offering manager-staff one-on-one meetings to discuss how employees see themselves progressing in the organization.
One of the biggest lessons COVID-19 has taught us is that maintaining social connections is critical for health and wellness. In fact, studies show that loneliness and social isolation can damage your health as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Promote connections with your team by hosting a virtual social hour once a week or encouraging family game nights. Give everyone playing cards along with instructions for classic card games.
Offer a “friend connection challenge,” where once a week people are encouraged to call an old friend to catch up. Pass out push pop bubble games, which they can use to reduce stress even as they chat.
While spiritual wellness can be very personal, there are still ways that your organization can be encouraging and helpful. Spiritual wellness programs can promote behavior like prayer and meditation. Encourage those who are active at their place of worship to take on a leadership role. Or turn your focus to appreciating the Earth and encouraging mindfulness.
Find creative ways to remove barriers to wellness
Although your staff members might be excited for wellness programs, work—and life—can get in the way. Discover which obstacles are affecting your staff and provide your team with methods that will help ensure their wellness stays a top priority.
Make employees aware of your wellness programs
While studies show that 89 percent of employees think their company supports their health and wellness goals, it’s possible staff may not be aware of all the wellness benefits your organization has to offer.
Here are some ways you can remind them of your program offerings:
- Offer an online wellness portal where associates can track earned incentives and learn about new programs.
- Send out monthly wellness newsletters or periodic email reminders highlighting your program offerings. Or use a wellness giveaway like a heart sticky note imprinted with a link to view details about your wellness program.
- If there’s an insurance incentive for using a wellness program, remind staff when they’re choosing their insurance plans for the year.
Make participation part of everyday work
If you’re unable to offer work time to go to the gym or take a walking break, try adding creative ways to incorporate wellness throughout the day. It can be simple, like starting daily meetings with a mindfulness exercise or stretch break or setting up notifications to remind employees to drink more water and step away from their desks for a few minutes.
Or you can go a step above and do away with traditional meetings. Instead, get everyone moving by hosting walking meetings or brainstorming sessions. This works well for both onsite and remote staff. If your budget allows, consider offering standing desks to your employees. Those who work from home could be offered a stipend to get a standing or walking desk of their own.
Offer larger incentives
While wellness giveaways are a tried-and-true method of helping get people on the right health track, you can also boost motivation by offering bigger prizes for healthy accomplishments.
A prize that encourages wellness is a great investment, with one study showing that wellness programs can result in health savings of $136 per month, per person.
Here are some ideas to get people excited to participate:
- Offer people who want to spend more time hiking and walking an ultra-warm jacket to ensure they keep it up during the colder months.
- Hand out massage certificates or a massage and recovery kit to destress and work out sore muscles from their renewed physical activity.
- Provide a meal kit with healthier or even vegetarian options to encourage them to cook at home and eat healthier.
- Hold monthly meetings with a personal trainer.
You can also offer a grand prize raffle to everyone who participates, with prizes like a weekend getaway to a local resort or a spa day complete with essential oils for relaxing aromatherapy.
A warm hat and passes for a local ski resort can leave a lasting impression of how your brand prioritizes health. Or consider a set of workout equipment, golf course passes or a top-of-the-line bike to encourage daily activity.
Healthy lifestyles make a healthy office
When you encourage your employees to participate by offering one or more of these employee wellness program ideas, there are benefits for them and you. And when you offer wellness giveaways, fun challenges and time to take care of themselves, you help create a happier, healthier office.