How to create an employee wellness program

A woman at work taking a break with a yoga pose with an employee wellness program

A healthy and happy workforce is the backbone of a successful organization. That's why most organizations are embracing employee wellness programs. Around 83% of large companies—or companies with 200 or more employees—offer these. Even 58% of small companies—or companies with three to 199 employees —offer the same programs.

With a wellness program, you nurture each employee and empower them to thrive in the workplace.

In this article, we'll show you how to create an employee wellness program that yields results.

Table of contents
What is an employee wellness program?
Why create an employee wellness program and why is it important right now?
11 ways to create a physical employee wellness program
16 ideas to create a mental employee wellness program
7 ideas to create a career employee wellness program
6 ideas to create a personal employee wellness program
Frequently asked questions

What is an employee wellness program?

It's an initiative designed to promote the wellbeing and health of employees.

An effective wellness program will go beyond a healthy workplace. It encompasses various aspects of wellness, including physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing.

Why create an employee wellness program and why is it important right now?

A well-thought-out wellness program is a game-changer for any business looking to succeed. So, let’s look at how much impact a successful wellness program can have in today’s work environment.

  • Enhancing employee productivity: A well-designed wellness program promotes better physical and mental health. Healthy and motivated employees perform at their best. In fact, research shows happy employees are 13% more productive. This enables them to achieve their personal and organizational goals faster.
  • Attracting and retaining top talent: Wellness programs give organizations a competitive edge. This makes talent acquisition easier. More employees today consider wellness initiatives to be a vital factor.
  • Employee retention: A great program reduces employee turnover and helps attract valuable talent. When you support and value your employees they turn into advocates for your business. Research shows that 71% of employees are willing to advocate for caring organizations.
  • Improving employee morale: An employee wellness program shows that your organization cares. This can boost employee morale and increase employee engagement. As a result, employees are more likely to be loyal and committed to their work.
  • Reducing absenteeism and presenteeism: A successful employee wellness program reduces absenteeism. It does this by addressing health issues and promoting preventative measures. By focusing on mental health support, the programs also fight presenteeism, where employees show up for work but are not productive.
  • Controlling healthcare costs: The program promotes preventative health measures, which reduce healthcare costs. By encouraging healthy eating habits and preventing employee burnout, a larger majority of employees will stay healthy. It's also easier to manage health issues before they escalate and become costly.

Wellness programs help employees adopt healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices leading to greater organizational success. The average return on investment for employee wellness programs is 6:1.

11 ways to create a physical employee wellness program

Promoting physical wellbeing is a vital aspect of any comprehensive employee wellness program. Physically healthy employees with an active lifestyle equal high productivity.

Here are some employee wellness program ideas you can implement to keep your employees physically fit:

Launch improved nutrition programs. You can host healthy cooking contests and nutrition challenges.

You can even complement these programs with SMS or email marketing. For instance, you can send employees the healthy recipes they learned during the contests.

Set up medical reminder email campaigns. Send employees messages to emphasize the need for medical check-ups. You can also send them emails about specific diseases. This idea is proactive. It encourages early detection and preventative care, ensuring employees stay healthy. Use automation and generative AI tools to craft effective and quick messages.

Invite guest speakers. Guest speakers can provide valuable insights and tips on healthy lifestyles. For example, a chef demo day that focuses on healthy food is a great idea. The chef can teach nutritious meal preparation, and inspire employees to make healthy recipes.

Incorporate lifestyle benefits. Consider offering free or discounted gym memberships to benefit employees’ physical health. Partnering with health insurance providers to create corporate wellness programs for employees is another option.

Provide facilities to support alternative commuting methods. Show that you promote healthy lifestyles by providing the facilities employees need. For instance, install bike racks outside your office buildings. Cycling to work promotes physical activity and also reduces their carbon footprint.

Set up wellness days. Your efforts may be in vain if employees don't take part. So, to nurture a vibrant physical wellness culture, choose a specific day. For instance, say you go with Wellness Wednesday. All Wednesdays will be a reminder for employees to focus on physical fitness. On this day, organize wellness activities, workshops, and team-building activities.

Implement office ergonomics. This also affects employees’ physical wellbeing. Most employees sit for prolonged periods. To counter this, get height-adjustable standing desks for your workplace. Companies like Google and Apple use them to encourage better posture and encourage activity throughout the day.

Hold walking meetings. You can hold meetings while walking in local parks or outdoor areas. These meetings provide a change of scenery and relaxed environment, which fosters creativity. They also help employees incorporate exercise into their work routines.

Set up local farm co-ops. Create group buying initiatives through work by setting these up. The initiatives allow employees to access fresh produce, sourced from local producers. It can help encourage healthy eating and strengthens the relationship between the company and community.

Hold regular wellness challenges. Encourage and organize fitness challenges such as running, dance and yoga classes to enhance employee health and boost energy levels. Guest personal trainers or yoga instructors can encourage participation of all fitness levels.

You can leverage the use of fitness tracking technology for your fitness classes, such as wearable blood pressure and heart rate tracking smartwatch. This adds a fun and competitive element that encourages participation in physical exercises.

You can also use the watch to help employees avoid issues like headaches, eye strain, and heart disease. For instance, Apple encourages its office and remote teams to use Apple watches. The watch taps the employees if they sit for too long, and reminds them to take breaks 10 minutes before the hour.

Run contests for a greener work environment. You can ask employees to make their own workspaces as green as they can be. So, they can have plants on their tables, for instance. Plants don’t only add an aesthetic appeal. They also help clean the air. This improves indoor air quality and creates a more pleasant and productive atmosphere.

Remember to extend the same support to your hybrid and remote employees.

16 ideas to create a mental employee wellness program

Promoting mental wellness is crucial for creating a supportive and thriving work environment. Here are some ideas to create a mental employee wellness program. Each one fosters psychological wellbeing and supports your employees' mental health needs.

Develop a safe culture. You want employees to feel comfortable to express their thoughts and concerns. You can achieve this by promoting open communication and empathy in the workplace.

Have dedicated employee mental health champions. You can appoint a dedicated team to drive the employee wellness programs. They will be responsible for organizing corporate wellness initiatives and curating resources. They'll advocate for mental and emotional health support within the organization. Ensure they always have a budget. This will show the organization's commitment to employee mental wellbeing.

Involve employees in shaping the program. You can do this by inviting them to share their ideas for wellness through surveys or focus groups. This approach ensures the program addresses your employees' specific challenges and requirements.

This way, you also create a sense of ownership and engagement among employees. You can supplement your findings by using Fingerprint for Success’ Culture Map feature. It provides further insight into your team’s work and culture.

F4S people analytics shows your company or team culture map

Have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs provide counseling and support services for employees facing personal or work-related challenges. Through voluntary counseling sessions and referrals, you help employees navigate mental health issues.

Use people analytics to inform your talent acquisition process. This helps you hire a qualified team who are likely to get along with each other. The team will work well together, and, therefore, contribute to a healthier work environment. The Fingerprint for Success platform provides this feature.

Leverage recruitment marketing. You can only attract the right people who are likely to get along with each other if you screen your marketing messages from the get-go. That’s why recruitment marketing is so important. Additionally, ensure that the hiring process emphasizes the importance of mental wellness.

Offer a ‘How to Create Your Work Blueprint’ program. The program focuses on nurturing positive work habits for all employees – from C-suite level down to entry-level employees. The blueprint emphasizes daily healthy habits and work-life balance. It provides practical tools and strategies to manage workload and set boundaries.

Create a ‘ways of working’ program. It encourages healthy habits, such as time management, and ensures a healthy work-life balance.

Introduce activities that promote mental relaxation. So, you can have meditation groups or spa sessions. These help employees relax and reduce stress levels. As a result, they improve their mental well-being and overall employee health.

Offer free vital wellbeing coaching programs. These can help provide personalized guidance on holistic wellbeing. These programs can cover stress management, resilience building, and work-life balance. Fingerprint for Success has a free AI coaching feature. It will help your employees receive individualized support to enhance their mental wellbeing.

F4S coach marlee AI coaching for employee wellness program

Promote social rituals in the office. These can foster connections and a sense of community. These rituals can include birthdays and other themed celebrations. Since they provide opportunities for employees to connect and build relationships, you also reduce feelings of isolation. This helps enhance their mental wellbeing.

Encourage employee volunteerism. You can do this by offering paid volunteer programs. Allowing employees to engage in community work boosts their sense of purpose.

Offer time off. If you’re not doing this yet, offer your employees a paid  day off on their birthday.

Have a pet-friendly office. You can encourage employees to bring their well-behaved pets to work. This helps reduce stress levels and increases social interaction, creating a positive work environment.

Google’s popular Dooglers is a great example of such a wellness program.

Image source: google Author: google

The Mountain View campus even has a dog park called The Doogleplex.

Organize off-site activities for employees. These can help them build connections and strengthen the company culture. The activities can range from team-building exercises to recreational outings.

Create safe spaces. Set up spaces in your workplace or in your virtual spaces for employees experiencing sensory overload or needing a break. These spaces provide quiet and calm, helping employees retreat to recharge or regroup.

For instance, Google provides nap rooms, lego stations, and ping-pong tables. Offering these safe spaces shows your commitment to supporting employees' mental wellbeing.

7 ideas to create a career employee wellness program

Creating a career-focused employee wellness program is essential for fostering professional growth. Here are useful ideas to create employee wellness programs that support career journeys.

Reinforce your brand's vision, mission, values, and goals. Doing this creates a sense of purpose and direction within the organization. Employees are able to align their work with the broader organizational objectives. It also enhances their value and sense of belonging, which boosts career satisfaction.

Set up rewards programs and incentives. Recognizing and rewarding hard-working employees boosts morale and reinforces a positive work culture. Create a structured rewards system that acknowledges both individual and entire team achievements. This motivates employees to work hard on all levels.

Commemorate work anniversaries. Recognizing employees' commitment to the organization promotes a sense of belonging and loyalty.

Have a flexible working hours program. This supports parents, caregivers, and other individuals with personal commitments. Flexible work options, such as remote work and flexible work hours, facilitates work-life balance. They promote the wellbeing of employees in their personal lives. As a result, they boost the employees' performance in their jobs9.

Offer personal and professional development opportunities. Start by inviting employees to take the free assessment by Fingerprint for Success. Not only will this give you an understanding of the unique motivational traits of every individual in your business, each employee who takes part will have instant access to a free coaching program to enhance their skills and help them achieve their professional and personal goals.

Create a corporate culture that promotes communication and collaboration. Learning how to best lead your team is vital in a productive and thriving workplace. Did you know there are 10 different styles of leadership that affect how you manage, direct, and influence others? Or that team members have preferred ways of communication, and that you can adapt the words you use to optimize how motivated they feel?  F4S measures all this and more, giving you and your team the tools you need to collaborate and communicate smoothly and effectively.

Establish a mentorship program. Mentorship programs ease knowledge sharing and learning from senior employees to junior colleagues. Hence, pairing experienced employees with mentees encourages professional growth. This fosters a healthy culture of learning and development within the organization.

Mentorship relationships also provide valuable guidance, helping employees navigate their careers.

6 ideas to create a personal employee wellness program

A personal employee wellness program supports employees in their personal lives. It helps employees foster meaningful connections, in and out of the office. Here are some ideas to create employee wellness programs that prioritize individual needs.

Host fun social rituals beyond work-related activities. For instance, host happy hours, team lunches, trivia nights, and birthday parties. These social events provide opportunities for employees to connect on a personal level. This then leads to great friendships that lead to a happier workplace.

It's important to ensure that these activities are inclusive. So, if there are people who don't want to consume alcohol and snacks, you can provide alternatives – healthy snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, for example.

Host family values workshops and relationship development programs. These can help strengthen employees' personal relationships10. They can include hosting coaching sessions on goal-setting. After all, at the end of the day, setting smart goals ensures a work-life balance.

Offer paid parental leave to support employees. Doing this shows that the organization values the wellbeing of its employees and boosts employee satisfaction and loyalty, which reflects in their output.

Launch a ridesharing program. You can build deep employee connections beyond the workplace with this program. This is when two or more people commute to and from work in the same private car. Ride-sharing encourages interaction and contributes to a more connected and sustainable work environment.

Use incentives like gift vouchers for employees who achieve their personal goals. The achievement could be, say, reaching a fitness milestone. By recognizing such moments, the organization shows support for employees' success and happiness.

Share personal wellness resources. The resources give employees healthier and more fulfilling lives beyond their professional responsibilities. Some of the resources include insightful self-care articles and videos. You can also organize workshops on topics like self-management and stress management.

By providing such resources, the organization helps employees maintain balanced and healthier lifestyles.

Frequently asked questions

How does an employee wellness program boost workplace productivity?

An employee wellness program boosts workplace productivity in several ways. By prioritizing employee wellbeing, the program reduces absenteeism and stress. It also boosts morale, engagement, and job satisfaction10.

What are the key components of an effective employee wellness program?

The key components include health assessments, fitness activities, and nutrition education. Also, mental health support, ergonomic improvements, and work-life balance initiatives.

How can organizations encourage employee participation in wellness programs?

Organizations can encourage participation in wellness programs by offering incentives. Additionally, they need to provide flexible scheduling, fostering a supportive and inclusive culture. They also need to communicate the benefits of the program to employees.

Give your team a wellness advantage

A healthy team is a productive team. Answer the questions in our assessment to learn about your team’s motivations and preferences and compare their results on our real-time dashboard. Then, use those insights to support a healthy culture and greater sense of wellbeing within your valued team.

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1. (2022) ‘Happy Employees Are More Productive: Facts, Data, Trends’. Available at: https://www.zippia.com/employer/happy-employees-are-more-productive/

2.  (2023) ‘What Is Employee Well-Being and Why Does It Matter’. Available at: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/404105/importance-of-employee-wellbeing.aspx.aspx#

3. (2010) ‘Workness Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings’. Available at: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0626

4. (2022) ‘How to Build an Email Marketing List for Your Small Business’. Available at: https://www.eurodns.com/blog/how-to-build-an-email-marketing-list-small-business

5. (2023) ‘Generative AI Explained: A Field Guide for CMOs’. Available at: https://writer.com/guides/generative-ai/

6. (2022) ‘The Ultimate Guide to Recruitment Marketing’. Available at: https://sixgun.com.au/the-ultimate-guide-to-recruitment-marketing/

7.  (2022) ‘How to Hire Employees for Your Small Business’. Available at: https://www.spoton.com/blog/hiring-employees-for-small-business/

8.  (2022) ‘Employee Performance Management: How to Handle Issues in a Remote Team’. Available at: https://zipboard.co/employee-performance-management/

9.  (2021) 6 Tips to Build a Healthy Work Relationship Among Employees.’ Available at:  https://hrnews.co.uk/6-tips-to-build-a-healthy-work-relationship-among-employees/

10. (2022) ‘6 Human Resource Skills that Boost Employee Engagement’. Available at: https://www.hrcloud.com/blog/6-human-resource-skills-that-boost-employee-engagement

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