How to Expand Corporate Wellness Programs Beyond Diet & Exercise
If spending on workplace wellness programs tells us anything, it’s that they aren’t going away anytime soon. In the US alone, corporate wellness programs are a nearly $8 billion dollar industry, projected to grow at a rate of 7.8% through 2021.
They go beyond insurance benefits to offer health and wellness incentives to employees, but often still fall short in terms of total wellness. The key to solving that problem: corporate wellness programs that encompass total quality of life.
From work-life balance and mental health, to social, financial and physical well being, employers can do more to engage their workforce.
Simple — by creating corporate wellness programs that are engaging, social, fun and integrated into the day-to-day lives of all employees.
19 Ways to Promote Total Wellness at Work
While events like health fairs and wellness screenings are great, they only account for employees’ physical wellbeing. And employees often participate solely because they are told to, without understanding the underlying benefits.
When you focus on total wellness, the ‘why’ becomes clear to both employees and employers— people who focus on wellness in all aspects of their lives are happier, less stressed and more productive. Employees will feel the improvements and you’ll reap the rewards… making workplace wellness a win-win!
From socializing with peers to fulfilling their philanthropic desires, there are many ways you can contribute to employees’ social wellbeing through your corporate wellness program:
- Implement a quarterly “do good” day, allowing employees to volunteer during business hours.
- Recognize acts of kindness in monthly meetings to show employee appreciation.
- Gather the company for an outdoor picnic or allow department leads to take their teams to work-free lunches on a regular basis. Make it clear these are social events — leave work and any convos about it at the door.
- Make other components of wellness social — create challenges for weight loss, nutrition, reading, saving money… the list goes on. Keep it fun and don’t just focus on weight, as not everyone wants or needs to shed pounds. Encourage employees to check in with one another to gain the support of their work fam.
- Appreciate the diversity of your workforce by encouraging employees with a unique background, interest or hobby to present or lead a discussion. Your team will become closer and you’ll reinforce emotional wellness too!
From the 401(k) your company offers to their personal savings accounts, 53 percent of employees report feeling stressed about their finances. Empower them in a few simple ways:
- Hold quarterly or biannual lunch-n-learns about your company’s 401(k) offering and how it works. Employees should understand what a 401(k) is, how to select investments and how to make adjustments specifically within your company’s system.
- Schedule time for one-on-one meetings with a financial advisor to help employees plan for retirement, health costs and other large purchases like buying a home.
- Similar to understanding their 401(k) options, ensure employees actively understand their health insurance benefits and are encouraged to use them.
- From entry-level employees to CEOs-in-the-making, encourage leaders to discuss career development with their direct reports.
- Professional development activities like networking events or industry-specific certifications are another great way to support the growth of your team members.
Emotional health is often overlooked by corporate wellness programs, but is a key factor in developing employees who are less stressed, more productive and even happy at work.
- Provide employees with adequate vacation days and ensure they use them. This doesn’t mean you have to offer unlimited vacation days (this policy has actually been shown to reduce the number of days off employees take), but employees should feel free to take time off as needed.
- Implement time for team recognition or better yet, train department leaders on effective leadership strategies so that employees continually receive the praise and constructive feedback that helps them feel valued at work.
- Allow employees to continue developing their minds by holding quarterly learning sessions whether they be job-related or totally fun (like an origami or presentation on how coffee is made).
- Provide onsite childcare or financial assistance to employees with families. This lightens the financial and mental burden of ensuring one’s children are properly cared for while parents are at work.
Exercise and nutrition remain a focus in developing total wellness. There are several things you can do to make it easier (and more fun) for employees to make healthy choices:
- Make cafeteria options healthier
- Have fruit and other healthy snacks delivered weekly
- Open a gym onsite or provide a stipend for monthly gym memberships
- Rather than focusing on cutting out certain foods to be healthy or lose weight, consider bringing in a nutritionist to educate employees on moderation and/or a chef to show teammates how to prepare healthy meals at home.
- Hold an onsite health fair where employees can receive screenings and education on what a healthy lifestyle looks like.
Making strides in any facet of wellness won’t happen overnight. Implement changes to your corporate wellness programs gradually and ensure support from higher ups and department leads. When employees understand the benefits of total wellness, they’ll slowly start to get onboard.
Once employees see personal results from a wellness-focused workplace (weight loss, a fatter bank account, kicking a bad habit), they’ll be motivated to continue taking action. Just like that, you’ll have created a workforce that’s more productive, engaged and creative.
Does your company take a unique approach to workplace wellness? Tell us what they’re doing to support total wellness in the comments!