8 Things to Include in Your Workplace Wellness Program
Providing your employees the support and resources they need to be healthier and happier is a great step to improve worker satisfaction, increase productivity, and reduce burnout.
According to a U.S. government report, 80% of American businesses already have a wellness program in place. This is no surprise, since providing support to improve the health of your working can have countless business benefits, including attracting top talent and outpacing the competition.
This is about more than the business side of your company, however. It's also about your people. A wellness program can be vital to your staff, providing a much needed lifeline when things get tough. Moreover, there is compelling evidence that work culture and work experiences are becoming critical determinants of employee health and well-being.
But where do you begin?
If you’re looking for clarity on the wellness front, we’ve put together some key considerations and recommendations to include in your program. Implementing these will help you create a healthier, happier workforce.
1. A Clear Outline of Support Routes
Much of your wellness program will center around preventing issues like burnout and stress, but sometimes mental health issues are unavoidable. In these cases, employees need to know exactly what to do and where to seek help.
Your program should outline key steps they can take when they’re feeling stressed at work or experiencing issues outside the workplace that may impact their performance. For example, staff may first need to bring up the topic with a team leader or member of management staff. If you have specific employees trained to handle mental health issues, these individuals should be named in your mental health plan.
The key here is to make accessing support as easy as possible. Your employees shouldn't have to jump through hoops to receive help - a clear outline is a must.
2. Mental Health Support
Detail how staff can access company-sponsored and community mental health services and the support they can expect. Additionally, many companies now have links to mental health treatment centers, such as specialist rehab programs for burnout or therapists trained to deal with chronic stress in the workplace. Include information about discounts and whether your organization's health insurance program covers therapy sessions.
In-house support for mental health is also becoming more common. Aside from having trained mental health staff or first aiders, you could host meditation and mindfulness classes and team events to help staff unwind and de-stress. Make it clear that these are designed to boost wellness and can be attended by anyone interested.
(Learn more in 9 Strategies to Promote Workplace Mental Health)
3. Exercise Programs
Physical exercise is an effective wellness booster, with a wide range of physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits - from improved sleep to reduced cortisol levels.
Promoting movement throughout the day is a staple of any wellness program. This can be achieved by encouraging walking meetings and stretch breaks, paying for classes at a local gym, programs that encourage exercise like the Bicycle Subsidy Benefit Program, or simply raising awareness of the benefits of staying active.
4. Healthy Eating Options
Encouraging and supporting healthy eating is also a must for boosting employee wellness. A well-balanced diet can improve concentration and productivity and reduce the risk of illness and sick days. Prioritize healthy eating in your wellness program, stocking your workplace with nutritious treats for employees to snack on.
A great idea for a multi-pronged approach to wellness is an optional breakfast club. Set up a team breakfast before the work day starts and provide lots of healthy foods for anyone who wants to join.
(Learn about 7 Basic Hydration Facts Every Worker Should Be Aware Of)
5. Flexible Hours and Remote Work
Out of necessity, many organizations experimented with remote work and flexible hours at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there are good reasons to continue offering these arrangements indefinitely.
Giving your employees more control over how they work can drastically reduce their stress levels, foster autonomy and empowerment, and optimize performance and productivity. In addition, remote work opportunities can provide freedom and flexibility that can be a lifesaver for staff members already struggling with mental health issues.
Be sure to include remote workers in your wellness initiatives. For instance, you can set up a designated wellness section in your communication channel and encourage teams to support each other and share tips on how to get through low days.
6. Pet-Friendly Office Spaces
Allowing pets in the office certainly isn’t traditional, but it could be just what your team needs. Several recent studies cite the benefits of bringing furry friends to work, including reduced stress levels, increased job satisfaction, and higher morale. A dog in the office can even improve workplace relationships - what better way to bond than over a playful puppy?
Of course, this is a step that has to be taken with care. Introducing pets to the office also introduces some health and safety issues. Please do your research before making this part of your wellness program, but don't underestimate its potential.
7. Advancement Opportunities
Burnout is a serious issue, and it's on the rise in the United States. It can lead to an array of additional problems, including anxiety and depression. Your wellness program should address it by educating employees on the signs of burnout and critical steps to help prevent or mitigate it when feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Other ways to combat work-related burnout are to offer peer mentoring or coaching programs and set realistic and achievable expectations for advancement.
Giving your employees clear pathways to progress within the organization can be a motivation booster and a burnout buster, going a long way to improving staff wellness. Often, this starts by providing in-house training or other professional development opportunities (such as time off to study or funding for certification programs). Prioritizing in-house hiring will also help your people feel supported and more secure in their position.
(Learn more in Managing Employee Burnout to Reduce Deadly Accidents)
8. Additional Well-Being Resources
Documenting additional well-being resources that could improve the health of your staff isn't just useful - it also shows them that you care. These resources could include meditation apps, self-help books, and recommendations for wellness-prompting activities. Make the list easily available, share it with your team, and post it around the office.
You could even set up a monthly wellness newsletter with resources your employees could benefit from. Include employee stories and wellness achievements - getting everyone involved is a fantastic way to open up the conversation and improve staff relationships.
Employee well-being programs are are vital business imperatives and integral to workplace health and safety. However, a successful program will require organizational commitment and responsive, holistic, and multi-dimensional wellness offerings.
Sourcing, creating, and facilitating dynamic wellness programs that excite and engage requires an inclusive approach and the involvement of leadership, wellness committees, wellness champions, and employee resource groups.
Providing employees with support and activities to help optimize their well-being and feel happier in day-to-day life should be the mission of all organizations. Creating a comprehensive wellness program is a great place to begin and can make a real difference for your workforce and your organization's growth and success.