The Best Workplace Wellness Programs... Workplace wellness programs are the current employer’s approach to improving the health and wellness of employees. Not only does it serve the company’s profitability but it helps them resolve any health-related issues in the workforce. Wellness programs include activities such as on-site yoga classes, fitness workouts, health services, naps, healthy nutrition, wellness challenges, assistance programs, transit options, and more.
In today’s fast-paced work environments, finding the right work-life balance can be tough. Which is why many companies offer wellness programs that go the extra mile to promote the health and happiness of their employees. Taking care of employees is one of the key factors for a successful company.
The list of the benefits of wellness programs can be quite long. However, creating an effective wellness program is a process that needs the extensive planning of each component and the feedback of each participant. Outlining the goals to be achieved and calculating the needed budget to implement requires a company’s best observation and cost-benefit analysis. An employer that is aware of the necessity of a wellness program and who can fit all the different pieces into practice can be rare, but now increasingly common.
To help you in making the right choice we made a selection of 10 best workplace wellness programs that offer a fun, engaging, and holistic approach. These can pose as a great inspiration for creating your own program.
1. Yoga Classes
2. On-site fitness center
3. On-site healthcare services
5. Healthy lunch and snacks
6. Assistance programs
7. Transit options
8. Office wellness challenges
9. Programs for smoking cessation
10. Combination of several elements
Since most employees are faced with tight deadlines, overtime, and other work-related stressors, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are proven to be very effective stress relievers.
By offering yoga classes a couple of times a day and in a week, you will be encouraging your employees to practice self-care while being at work. This coordinates according to the employee's needs and work schedule.
For instance, one of the most important requirement for incorporating yoga classes is finding the best available space on-site. Space must be big enough to fit a certain number of mats and employees at the same time. Many companies are adapting their break rooms or conference rooms. Another important consideration is whether to hire an in-house certified yoga instructor or bring instructors from a yoga studio in the designated time.
In the case of the company, Mobify, when the weather is good, their rooftop is adapted for practicing yoga while offering an amazing view of Vancouver’s ocean and mountains. Intuit is another company that offers mindfulness and meditation classes as well as promoting other stress-relieving activities, such as listening to calming music, taking walks, learning breathing exercises, etc. As an addition, encouraging mindfulness tips and quotes around the workspace can be quite inspiring.
Having an on-site fitness center might be one of the oldest and most expensive solutions for a corporate wellness program. However, the benefits outweigh the costs. On-site fitness facilities can help employees change their scenery during their workday and improve their physical and mental health, without having to lose time running to the nearest fitness center.
There are several considerations to have in mind while creating a wellness fitness program for your employees. First, establish a dedicated space. This space doesn't have to be strictly dedicated to fitness equipment. It can also be used for different types of cardiovascular training, functional training, conditioning, and more. Offering on-site daily or weekly workouts with certified fitness trainers can keep employees healthy and energized.
Second, do research on what is the best floor and wall structure, ceiling height, acoustic properties, facilities maintenance, etc. Having a preventative maintenance plan will ensure the long life of the equipment and maintain the common space.
Third, plan a budget. Even though not all companies can afford to have a top-notch fitness center at their premises, there are a lot of options on the market. Acquiring commercial grade equipment and different setups that can meet your employees’ needs can also meet your budget. You can even hire a consultant to help you make the right equipment-related decision and help you gain the required knowledge.
Fourth, create a team of fitness enthusiasts that will help fitness newbies to create their own daily workout plans without having to wonder what and how to start first. Having someone to introduce them to exercise basics can boost their morale and meet important safety precautions.
Companies such as Nike and Chesapeake Energy are offering impressive fitness centers to their employees, including weight rooms, cross-training rooms, access to personal trainers, and even an Olympic sized swimming pool and rock-climbing walls.
There is definitely a reason why Google has been rated as the best place to work in, so why not learn from the best? In the myriad of wellness programs they offer, one particularly caught our eye:
Access to on-site massage services, physical therapy, chiropractic service, and many more healthcare services. After all, a calm and relaxed coworker is a pleasure to work with.
Even a 20-min massage can help reduce work-related stress and pressure, injuries, and improve workplace culture.
As part of the massage program, the company must decide whether to hire an in-house massage therapist, invite massage companies in your workplace regularly or offer vouchers to employees to visit certain massage companies.
Some of the massaging services can include:
Workstation massage, where employees can receive a 10-min massage session on their desk, mainly focusing on their neck and shoulders and without being away from the desk for a long time. This type is best suited for companies with a large number of employees.
Office massage chair, where employees can receive a 20-min massage session, mainly focusing on the head, neck, shoulders, back, and arms. This option can be a perfect solution for taking a break.
Massage table, where employees can receive a 30-60-min massage session whether it is relaxation or medicinal massage.
If there isn’t a possibility to have an in-house massage therapist, installing free massage chairs around the workplace can also do the trick.
We all know how an after-lunch nap can help refresh one completely. For this reason, several innovative companies, such as Zappos, Facebook, and Asana have specialized nap rooms. Most of the companies that incorporate this wellness program offer flexible work schedules, so employees can return to their tasks after having a power nap with renewed energy.
It’s very important to find the ways in which people can recharge and de-stress and naps have been clinically proven to have a great impact on productivity.
When building a nap room, there are three essentials to consider: comfortable beds and chairs to lie in, less noisy location away from the office traffic, and dim lights. Additionally, make sure to
- Have a lounge room with different furniture setups and cushions that can accomodate several people at once
- When using nap chairs, they should be ergonomically fitted to allow people to properly rest their back and neck.
- Install ambient, dim lights that will create a calming environment.
- Offer sleep masks to your employees to block any unwanted light.
- Layout rules and terms regarding using the nap rooms. Employees need to be aware to tidy and clean the room after their use.
Many companies have an only 30-min lunch break, which is why many employees feel that they need to eat something fast so they can go back to their workstation as soon as possible. Usually, that something is unhealthy snacks and fast food.
Promoting a healthy lunch and snack program in the office has numerous benefits. Starting, healthy food options form healthy employees and creates less absenteeism due to sick leave. Even better interaction between people of different departments in the cafeteria are part of a healthier work community.
Companies such as Facebook are offering catered lunches and healthy snacks for their employees throughout the day. If there isn’t a possibility of having a well-stocked kitchen or cafeteria in the workplace, there are a lot of services that will deliver healthy foods right to your doorstep.
Another option is to have an in-house culinary team. This way, employees will have the opportunity to eat several nutritious meals per day made by fresh ingredients from local organic farms, thus supporting the local community.
Your program can also offer free coaching via weekly or monthly workshops on different ways to prepare healthy meals at home. After all, with the right direction everybody can turn into their own chef.
Employee assistance programs are a vital institution in every company and have existed for decades as a requirement. These programs address many issues of personal or of a work-related nature, which affect the emotional and mental well-being of the employees.
These issues may be related to stress, anxiety, depression, substance use, workplace violence and trauma, family problems, financial problems, grief, and many more. The employees need to rest assured that this program will offer them a free and confidential assessment, guided support, follow-up services, referrals for child/elderly care, stress management, etc.
Accenture is one of the companies that realized that the support for their people doesn’t end when they leave the workplace. On the contrary, by providing additional assistance options outside of work, the company is showing its support and boosts the employees’ confidence and satisfaction.
- Start by doing research on the assistance program available. There are many companies on the market that offer these types of services.
- Compare the different programs based on the cost and range of services. Make sure that the selected program best fits the needs of your company.
- Have in-house EAP professionals hire the services of an EAP company that will closely work with HR and teach them to recognize troubled employees.
- Promote the program among the employees. Have an informational meeting about what the assistance program will offer in terms of services, how the employees can access them, all of the confidentiality and privacy protection, and encourage them to use these services whenever necessary.
For employees to use alternative transportation methods, either through public transportation or bike-sharing, there are programs that encourage its practicality.
For instance, bike-sharing is a program in which multiple bicycle stations are set up around the city and people can rent them out to use for a certain period of time and park them at a different docking station. These bikes are usually comfortable, have the needed gearing, lights, cargo baskets, and integrated locks, which makes them very safe to use. They can be accessed through a mobile app. This app will also show you where the nearest bicycle station is. The rent can be done through membership or credit cards.
The company can jump in by providing free membership passes, bicycle docking stations right in front of the offices, or provide opportunities to rent the company’s bikes.
However, not every employee can be a regular bike user since some of them live far from work, may have to cross dangerous roads, or could not at all due to harsh weather conditions. So, reimbursing the employees for their public transport passes is one way of encouraging them to use it.
This type of program is very appealing to employees who value environmental responsibility, emission reduction, financial savings, and more.
A very effective way of promoting healthy life-choices amongst employees is to start addressing office wellness challenges. Through gamifying, these challenges can become great incentives for employees to keep their wellness and health goals.
These challenges should be created in a way that will cover different areas which employees are most eager to improve. Here are some examples:
Drink more water- Lots of us don’t drink enough water, even though we know how important it is to have proper hydration. So, the challenge can include tracking how much water every participant drinks per day, and give small prizes for those who exceed or meet the recommended 8 glasses of water per day.
Take the stairs - Invite employees to use the stairs instead of the elevator for a certain period of time. This could be particularly challenging for people working on the 5th floor and above. How this challenge works: Keep a board at the top of the stairs with the names of every participant, where all of them can put a checkmark for every day they use the stairs. For people who use the stairs the most, at the end of the challenge reward them with an interesting prize.
Bring your home-made lunch - Invite employees to choose for how many days they will bring their home-made healthy lunches to work. You can reward the ones that fulfilled their healthy eating goals with gift cards or coupons to local organic grocery stores.
Many health problems are as a result of smoking, which is why smoking cessation programs are one of the oldest wellness programs. Smoking can be a very hard habit to quit, so having a program to help employees quit smoking is very important.
Have a challenge system where people who make it to 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year without smoking receive different rewards. You can even include their family members who smoke in the challenge. Usually, people stick to their new habits if they are not tempted by their surroundings.
Another option is to issue a smoke-free policy with no designated smoking areas. Additionally, providing the employees with different cessation materials at their disposal may help in their battle.
It’s very important not to force this program on smokers but have it available when they are ready to quit.
The workplace wellness program can contain many different elements that tightly connect with each other. The idea is to offer multiple ways in which the employees can get energized.
- Unlimited PTO - This will allow the employees to achieve better work-life balance by taking as much time off as they like for a vacation, sick days, or some other type of days off without interfering with important tasks and operations. Even though this is not exactly a wellness program, it can certainly be very useful employee perk
- Offer cool classes to attend, such as guitar lessons, cooking lessons, etc.
- Built-in sauna- after all what is a better way to blow off some steam than in a sauna?!
- No-meetings policy on Fridays
- Weight management program with custom meal-plans and workout routines according to any participant.
- If possible, an opportunity to have a longer break at the end of the year, especially around the holidays. This program will help prevent employee burnout and stress.
- Offer special discounts to employees for gyms memberships, fitness apparel, fitness-related equipment, or online fitness programs and classes for working out at home
- Health screenings on a regular basis for employees and their immediate family for early detection of heart disease, high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and many more.
1. Conduct surveys and obtain information on employees’ health through health risk assessments, willingness for participation in certain wellness programs, and choosing which types of programs will best fit the needs of the employees;
2. Obtain support from all management levels
3. Create a wellness committee that will create a positive wellness culture in the workplace
4. Define what goals and objectives should be achieved with the program, based on previous employee health assessments
5. Set a budget for successfully implementing the program
6. Define the components of the program
7. Promote the program among the employees
8. Make an evaluation of the success of the wellness program.
Implementing ergonomics in the workplace can lower workplace injuries, reduce any physical discomfort such as headaches and neck pains, and improve posture. This results in better employee performance and productivity. The goal of wellness programs is also to improve employee health and improve employee productivity which is why having proper ergonomics should also be considered in every wellness program.
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