2023 Employee Wellness Ideas & Activities for the Workplace
Employee wellbeing is essential for any workplace. It involves creating a healthy and safe working environment where employees can thrive. With the right initiatives in place, you can encourage employees to be productive and engaged, improving overall morale.
This article explores the various wellness tips and ways employers can create an effective employee wellness program by providing ideas and tips to get started. From promoting physical activity like fitness classes to offering mental health support, this list of employee wellness ideas will help you create a positive work environment that encourages healthy habits and boosts morale.
Table of Contents
Why organizations and teams should care about wellness
Before we dive into how managers and team leaders in organizations can promote employee wellness, let’s go over why they would want to do that in the first place.
Aside from it being the morale thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do. After all, employees spend approximately 1/3 of their lives working, so it only makes sense that organizations should support employees on their wellness journey.
But that’s not the only smart reason to invest in employee wellness! A high level of employee wellness can benefit a company in many ways, including the below examples:
Besides good employee morale, another reason why you should encourage employees to embrace health and wellbeing has to do with productivity. There’s plenty of research stating that the physical and mental health of a company’s employees is a major determining factor in how productive they will be.
That’s because employees who are encouraged to take the time and space to care for their physical and mental health tend to feel empowered and respected.
In fact, Workhuman’s Employee Experience Index, which surveyed more than 23,000 employees across 45 countries, found that performance increased 23% thanks to happy and healthy employees.
Dr. Sgroi, a researcher from the Social Market Foundation, noted: “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”
Cuts health insurance costs
In today’s business climate, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a company that doesn’t provide its employees with health insurance.
Not all health insurance is created equal though. Insuring employees that have significant health issues will cost an organization much more than insurance for healthy employees. Based on a 2010 study by Baicker, Cutler, and Song, “medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs.”
That’s why creating an environment that promotes mental and physical wellness and encourages employees to take action is a key step in the financial health of a company.
Workplace wellness programs also help companies by drastically decreasing the number of days in which their employees are absent from work.
That same 2010 study by Baicker, Cutler, and Song found that, “absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent.”
This seems pretty straight forward. This seems pretty straight forward. If you improve employee health, they’ll be less likely to miss a day of work due to being sick or for any other health reasons.
Additionally, your employees’ healthy lifestyle is likely to rub off on their loved ones. Therefore, the likelihood of them missing work to attend to a sick family member is also reduced.
Increases trust and psychological safety
Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford University, said that one of the best ways to promote wellness within the organization is to simply, “encourage people to care for each other.” When you promote trust and goodwill throughout the organization, it builds a community, binds people together, and increases their psychological safety.
Psychological safety is linked to several metrics HR leaders will care about. According to Gallup research, improving psychological safety can reduce turnover by 27%, reduce safety incidents by 40%, and increase productivity by 12%.
Enhanced company reputation
Let’s face it, people employed in different companies definitely talk to each other about the cultures of their respective workplaces.
If you’ve created a workplace environment that makes employee health and wellness a priority, the word is going to get out. This will do wonders for your company’s reputation and for attracting top talent.
Not only is this going to reduce employee turnover and cut your costs, but it’s also going to make prospective employees want to work in your organization.
In fact, 67% of employees who work for organizations with wellness programs like their jobs more, and they are just as likely to recommend the company to others.
An important note on wellness programs
When implementing wellness programs, organizations need to keep a few things in mind to ensure they are creating equitable and beneficial programs. First, the wellness programs must be optional. And second, make sure not to leave any employees out. Any employee who wants to participate should be able to in some way.
For example, some wellness programs are focused on physical goals, like walking 10,000 steps a day. And within those programs, if you walk 10,000 steps a day for some period of time, you are rewarded. What happens when a single parent can’t participate because they are caring for children? Or an employee who uses a wheelchair? Employers need to be thoughtful about wellness ideas and initiatives or else they run the risk of inadvertent discrimination – which hurts employees and the company alike.
12 best employee wellness ideas
Ideas for wellness programs: HR leaders
Here are some great ideas for employee wellness activities an HR team can implement to yield excellent results:
Sports and games
One terrific idea for an initiative to boost physical health is organizing team outings revolving around sports and games.
This can involve taking the team out for a fun game of paintball or a competitive game of dodgeball. It can also include hitting the alley for a night of bowling or the local recreation center for a game of volleyball.
Notice that all of these ideas have a key factor in common, they’re all team activities, not individual ones.
This is important because not only do these types of activities help employees to get some movement in, but they also prioritize teamwork, which can build and strengthen the bonds between team members. This can lead to better chemistry and collaboration when it’s time to get back to work.
Another excellent way to promote wellness is to bring in a yoga instructor once a week to give classes. Or, if it’s a remote workplace, schedule an ongoing online class.
If you bring wellness to your employees, it will increase participation by reducing the number of roadblocks they might encounter like scheduling conflicts or childcare needs. Plus, yoga can work wonders for your employees’ health, both mentally and physically.
This idea is especially useful for organizations in which employees are constantly in high-pressure situations due to the nature of their jobs. By allowing them to zen out and let go, you’ll give your employees the chance to release any pent-up stress they may have.
Massage therapy is another great option when attempting to reduce the stress levels of your employees and improve their mental health. It’s also highly effective in releasing any tension in your employees’ muscles, which may help with stress or muscle aches.
Many companies give their employees coupons to get free massages at the local massage therapy center. If you want to go the extra mile, you can hire a massage therapist to come onsite and provide massages at the office.
That way relief is only a few steps away from their desk.
Ideas for wellness activities: team leaders
When managing a team of employees, you’ll want to keep them healthy and in high spirits. Here are some examples of how you can do so:
Dancing is scientifically proven to be a way of major stress relief that can be used to improve a person’s mood significantly. Which is why incorporating dance breaks into your team meetings and everyday workplace routine is a fun and unique way to boost employee wellness.
Book the office’s break room for 15 minutes and let your team members shake off some of the stress. All you need to do is pick songs that you know your employees will vibe with.
Here, and with all wellness initiatives, make sure you are considering your team’s circumstances and personalities. Some employees may not feel comfortable dancing in front of others, or others may have health reasons that cause them to avoid dancing. Wellness activities should never make employees feel alienated or othered.
Wall of gratitude
As the title suggests, this idea revolves around shifting your employees’ focus away from the negative aspects of their lives and directing it toward the things that they’re thankful for.
Establish a bulletin board where your employees can post about something in their life that they feel blessed to have. You can make this part of the workplace tradition by dedicating a day of the week for people to put their notes of gratitude up on the wall.
This activity leads to a heightened sense of optimism and enhanced wellness in the workplace. It does so because it creates a sense of collective positivity among your team members when they look up at the wall of gratitude with all of the uplifting notes on it. And if your employee base is dispersed, you can use your company’s online employee recognition platform as a forum to post gratitude notes.
This idea can also improve your team members’ relationships with one another as they learn more about what makes each of them happy.
Egg drop challenge
Another fun-packed wellness activity you can try with your employees is the egg drop challenge. You may have heard of this one before, but for those who haven’t, this is what it involves:
First, divide your employees into teams, possibly pairing up those of them who aren’t that familiar with each other to allow them to bond. Then, give each team some materials you can easily find around the office. These materials can be anything from cardboard boxes to bubble wrap.
Each team should then be given 20 minutes or so to create a protective enclosure that’ll prevent an egg from breaking when dropped from a window.
While this may feel like a trivial activity, it’s an excellent way to break the ice between your team members and gives them a chance to show off their creativity and problem-solving skills.
Companywide wellness challenges or event ideas
Here are some ideas for corporate wellness initiatives that can be implemented on a company-wide scale to promote a healthy lifestyle for employees:
A commonly used company-wide wellness initiative is a walking challenge. This idea is widespread for a reason, that reason being that it’s incredibly effective!
Walking is scientifically and statistically proven to improve an individual’s health and reduce the risks of them suffering from illnesses.
Therefore, walking challenges are a great way to encourage your employees to lead a more active lifestyle without making them have to do something that’s overly difficult.
You can implement this by giving each employee a wearable fitness tracker that counts their steps. This may seem like a large expense, but in reality, these devices are inexpensive and widely available. You’ll also more than make up for the cash outlay in future saved costs related to insurance and health benefit payouts.
Again, when putting these initiatives in place, please consider all of your employees and ensure they are able to participate if they choose to.
Another great idea for a wellness program to implement on a company-wide scale is a nutrition challenge. As the saying goes: “you are what you eat.” Therefore, encouraging your employees to eat right is a highly effective method of making them healthier, both physically and mentally.
The first step in implementing a program like this is to educate your employees on the importance of nutrition habits and how they can improve theirs. You can do this by bringing in a nutrition specialist to give seminars.
Another measure you can take is to provide your employees with healthy food in the company cafeteria.
Virtual/Remote wellness ideas
Implementing employee wellness activities can be a challenge when your employees work remotely. Here are a couple of ideas you can try out:
The first remote employee wellness idea you can try is a trivia challenge. You can pepper these into your team’s Zoom meetings periodically, giving your employees a fun, light-hearted change of pace.
You can even make it a tradition of sorts, having a “Trivia Tuesday” each week is a great way to give your employees something to look forward to.
Trivia challenges are also a great way to get your employees to know each other better. If one of them does very well on questions on a certain topic, their colleagues will know that this topic is a passion of theirs. It may even stem a friendship between two employees that didn’t know they had an affinity for the same topic.
Employee of the week/month
Another great way to promote employee wellness is to let your team members know that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. This makes your employees less likely to feel that they’re just cogs in a machine.
One way to go about this is to instate an employee of the week (or month) program. The person deciding on the winner could be the team leader, or you could go for the more democratic path of letting your employees nominate each other for the award.
Either way, making your employees feel that their work matters is bound to make them more productive.
Mental health online seminars
Sure, working remotely can be more efficient and cut costs. However, it does have its downsides.
Employees working remotely don’t get to see and mingle with their co-workers every day. Therefore, they may feel like they’re alone in dealing with the stress and hardships that can come with work.
This is why giving remote employees access to online mental health seminars can be highly beneficial. It can allow them to learn from experts how to better manage their work and their social life. Additionally, it gives them the chance to discuss what they’re going through with fellow employees.
Online book clubs
Another great way to get your remote employees to feel more that they’re not working in isolation and are part of a collective is to organize online book clubs.
Doing this can be a great help in allowing such employees to find common ground to connect on. What starts as a weekly discussion of a book they’re reading can develop into blossoming friendships between these employees.
One thing to keep in mind when doing this is to diversify the genres of the books being read. This will allow employees with all types of interests to get in on the fun.
Frequently asked questions
Having workplace wellness programs allows companies to pay less for their employees’ health insurance. It also increases the productivity of the company’s employees and makes them less likely to miss work.
It also enhances the company’s reputation in terms of its culture. This makes it easier for the company to recruit new employees and makes current ones less likely to leave.
The primary reason why some employee wellness programs fail is that employees feel that the incentives offered aren’t worth their participation in the program.
Additionally, employees are less likely to feel engaged with a wellness program if it doesn’t revolve around something that they feel affects them, or if they feel like it wasn’t designed for them. This is especially true when they don’t see management leading by example and participating in the program.
The seven main aspects of employee wellness are:
A wellness package is an assortment of products or services that a company may provide its employees with for free. Such packages typically include discounts and coupons to facilities such as gyms, fitness centers, and massage therapy centers.
They can also include educational material such as books on nutrition and how to relieve stress and improve mental health.
A wellness program can be implemented on a team level or even on a company-wide scale.
An example of a wellness initiative implemented by a team leader is an employee recognition program or something more light-hearted such as an egg drop challenge.
On a company scale, wellness programs are more along the lines of a walking or nutrition challenge.
Promoting the health and wellness of employees is highly important for all types of organizations. This is because it makes employees more productive and less likely to be searching for a change in scenery.
Some employee wellness ideas you could try implementing in your organization include walking challenges, nutrition challenges, and mental health online seminars for remote employees.
By incorporating some of the ideas mentioned in this guide into your workplace, you’re bound to see a boost in productivity and the pleasantness of the work environment.
Employee Wellbeing Tips and Guides
Most recent articles