wellness program ideas

How to Create and Implement New Wellness Program ideas

Fifty years ago, if you had spoken the phrase “corporate wellness” or “wellness in the workplace,” no one would have had any idea what you were talking about. In fact, fifty years ago, people not only still smoked in offices, but it was the rare boss who didn’t keep a bottle of scotch in his bottom desk drawer.

Now, wellness is all the rage. But it’s not just a trend. More and more companies are realizing that fostering an atmosphere of wellness is about more than just keeping employees healthy. Doing so provides a host of benefits, not least of which is improved productivity.

As much as you may want to incorporate wellness program ideas into the day-to-day of office life, however, it can be difficult to know how. We’ve put together this guide to help!

Putting the Wheels In Motion

A good first step? Enlist the help of some passionate folks.

There are likely employees who are known around the office for being fitness fanatics, or particularly healthy eaters. Maybe that one guy in sales who built his own standing desk out of boxes he snagged from the recycling bin.

In addition to being smart delegation, asking for volunteers to head up a Wellness Committee is a good way to get employees invested. It will also help ensure that this initiative isn’t seen as a top-down mandate.

Once your committee is in place, it’s important to communicate with them. Before anything else happens, provide a budget so they know how much money they’ll have to work with.

Assessing the Value of Employee Wellness

Remember that wellness program ideas can directly impact your bottom line –positively! It’s hard to calculate the ROI of such investments, but one meta-analysis of over 40 business wellness studies revealed a 25% reduction in absenteeism and sick days.

That doesn’t even take into account such intangible benefits as morale, improved productivity, reduced turnover, and easier recruitment efforts. All of these will occur when your corporate culture places a high value on wellness.

If possible, be generous with the budget you give your Wellness Committee, but also encourage them to get creative. There are tons of wellness program ideas that are inexpensive or even free to implement.

Make Fitness Part of the Daily Routine

Offering credits for gym memberships is fairly standard with most companies’ insurance plans, but so few employees take advantage of this perk that it barely counts as one of your wellness program ideas. Instead, make your office environment conducive to small bursts of daily activity.

Install bike racks, if your building doesn’t already have them. Organize daily lunchtime walks or short bike rides. If you have a conference space that’s not being utilized, convert it into a yoga or fitness room, complete with a big-screen monitor for viewing fitness videos. Invest in a handful of mats, and check Craigslist for low-priced treadmills, ellipticals, and free weights.

Another low-cost wellness idea is to provide all employees with pedometers. Encourage them to walk to one another’s office rather than communicating via email or chat. Walking meetings are another of the wellness program ideas that are gaining favor.

Food, Glorious Food

Let’s face it — employees love free food. But if your office is typical, refreshments likely consists of birthday cake, potato chips and beer at the office happy hour, and maybe a pizza lunch when the sales team hits a big goal.

A better option? Provide fresh fruit for workers to snack on. Order in lunch from a vegan cafe. Offer to kick in for shares in a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. If enough employees sign up, the farm may actually deliver directly to the office!

Since office potlucks are always popular, try turning the next one into a healthy cooking contest, with prizes for the best good-and-good-for-you meals.

You probably already have an office water cooler, but if not, get one pronto.

It’s probably not wise to interrupt the steady stream of caffeine that some employees rely on, but consider augmenting the java with green tea. Offer unrefined sugar or honey as sweeteners rather than those pastel packets. Stocking some non-dairy milk for the vegans isn’t a bad idea, either.

Don’t Forget About Emotional Wellness

Taking steps to boost employees’ physical health is great, but don’t ignore their mental and emotional health, either. The best wellness program ideas take body and mind into consideration.

One thing workers really value? Flexibility in their schedules or their work location. If it’s feasible, implement a work-from-home policy one day, or even one afternoon, a week. Or think outside the 9-6 box, and let folks come in early or work late.

Other wellness program ideas include morale boosters like hosting “Spirit Week,” paying employees for volunteering in the community, and even offering nap spaces. Getting just a little shut-eye midday can really boost employees’ productivity, as well as their morale.

If many of your workers are dog owners, it might be worthwhile to become a dog-friendly office. Employees will be in less of a rush to leave if their dogs are right there with them, rather than waiting at home. And even those who don’t bring their own dog get the stress relief of playing with and petting pups.

Cube-decoration contests, paper-plate awards, spontaneous dance parties, or monthly lunchtime trivia games are fun ways to improve employee engagement while reducing the tension that can erode wellness. Screen a movie in the conference room every once in a while (don’t forget the popcorn!). Have a frozen-smoothie party when the hot weather’s getting everyone down.

Help Your Wellness Program Ideas Really Succeed

This isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it initiative. Periodically, you’ll need to reassess. Maybe your employees would rather form a kickball team than having an in-house yoga room. They might prefer occasional chair massages to having a ping-pong table available seven days a week.

You’ll rely on your Wellness Committee to take the pulse of the office, of course, but using anonymous online surveys is another way to gauge how well-received your wellness program ideas really are.

Need more ideas, or assistance in getting your office on the proverbial road to Wellville? Give us a jingle!

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