Today, many companies realize the benefits of employee wellness programs, and it’s not hard to see why.
Employees are a company’s most valuable asset. So investing in their physical and mental well-being can help them achieve a work-life balance and set them up to perform at their best.
In this article, we’ll highlight the five main benefits of employee wellness programs and ten excellent programs you can implement in your company. We’ll also discuss three challenges associated with employee wellness initiatives and offer four tips to overcome them.
This article contains:
(Click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
- 5 Major Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs
- 10 Best Employee Wellness Programs
- 3 Challenges Associated with Wellness Programs
- 4 Practical Tips to Improve Employee Wellness
Let’s get started.
5 major benefits of employee wellness programs
Employee wellness programs are workplace initiatives to improve employee health and wellbeing. These programs benefit both employers and their teams.
Here are five main benefits of employee wellness programs:
1. Improved employee health behavior
A good employee wellness program can promote healthier behavior in employees. In other words, these programs encourage employees to make healthier choices that should improve employees’ physical, mental and emotional health.
They also provide your team with the adequate skills, motivation, tools, and support to change unhealthy behaviors and adopt healthy habits.
Healthier employee behaviors and a healthy lifestyle lead to lower health risks and minimize chronic disease risk.
An added benefit is that healthier employees stay off work less, their medical costs are lower, and they’re generally happier, positively impacting their work and productivity.
2. Reduced stress
The key to a happy and healthy employee is the ability to manage job pressures efficiently, and wellness programs can help you do this.
The right wellness initiative can reduce stress among employees.
Why does this matter?
Excessive stress is the cause of a host of problems, including physical and emotional distress, absenteeism, and so on.
In the worst-case scenario, work stress can lead to elevated blood pressure and anxiety in employees. These risk factors are associated with coronary heart disease, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.
Thankfully, workplace stress is preventable.
Workplace wellness programs, like afternoon naps, yoga classes, etc., can help employees manage unavoidable stress factors and improve your company’s worksite wellness.
3. Improved relationships
Employee wellness programs have the potential to improve employee relationships.
For instance, one of the significant threats to employee wellbeing is bullying. The right employee wellness plans can help address workplace bullying.
Wellness programs help employees reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety, and other conditions that contribute to conflict and bullying in the work environment.
Not only does this type of employee assistance program positively impact employees’ emotional and mental wellbeing, but it also boosts productivity and has a positive effect on team collaboration.
4. Increased morale
Wellness programs demonstrate goodwill from an employer towards employees, which has a positive effect on employee morale. When employers take the time to invest in wellness programs, employees feel valued.
Employees are more likely to stay with an employer who cares for them. They are also more likely to give their best when they feel appreciated by their employer, which can have a massive impact on productivity.
Increased morale also boosts job satisfaction and increases employee engagement. If you have a high employee turnover, this can help with employee retention and attracting top talent.
You’ll also notice a reduced absenteeism rate among your team because healthy employees take fewer sick days.
5. Healthcare cost savings
Lack of physical activity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption are major contributors to chronic diseases. Diseases like heart disease and cancer have the highest overall health insurance and healthcare costs.
If your employee wellness program addresses these factors, you can improve the overall health of your employees and minimize healthcare costs. In the long run, it will also positively impact your company’s bottom line.
According to the Harvard Business Review, every dollar invested in health interventions yields $6 in health care savings.
10 best employee wellness programs
If you’re convinced about the benefits of employee wellness programs but don’t know where to begin, we’ve got you covered.
Here are ten tried and trusted employee wellness programs for a healthy workforce:
1. On-site fitness center
Although it’s one of the oldest corporate wellness initiatives companies began implementing, on-site fitness centers can still be part of an effective employee wellbeing program.
Employees can work out or go for a swim on their lunch breaks before or after work. Its convenient location means that employees don’t have to drive to the gym after work.
Additionally, employees are more likely to work out if it’s a free perk. Paying expensive private gym membership fees will deter many employees from working out.
If your employees work from home, you could consider sponsoring membership to an online workout regime or fitness app.
2. Quit smoking programs
According to the American Cancer Society, smoking damages your cardiovascular system and increases heart disease and stroke risk. Experts have also linked it to lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
So a workplace wellness program that assists employees to stop smoking is in their best interest both ethically and economically.
A corporate smoking cessation program can include offering coaching from experts, pharmacological assistance such as nicotine patches, etc.
3. Transit options
Employers can encourage employees to take alternative transportation methods such as cycling to work instead of driving.
Walking or cycling to work is better for the employee’s health because they’re getting some exercise. It not only promotes healthy behavior but is also good for the environment.
Employers can offer shared bikes to their employees or subsidize those who want to purchase their own bikes. You could also arrange carpooling groups, company-sponsored taxis, or bus services so that employees can avoid the stress of driving in traffic.
4. Alternative health services
Some companies like Google offer their employees alternative health services like massage therapy while at work.
While you don’t need full-time massage therapists on your staff as Google has, you could have a therapist visit once a week or monthly. This could help employees destress and relax, which improves their health and productivity in the workplace.
5. Yoga classes
Yoga and meditation is a known stress reliever and a low-intensity way to get fit.
If your team is dealing with tight deadlines and working overtime, offering yoga or mindfulness meditation classes as part of your wellness plan is an effective way to help them manage stress.
You could offer classes during the workday in your company conference room or breakroom.
6. Free meals and healthy snacks
Employees have a limited amount of time for lunch and may feel like buying unhealthy fast food is the best option. On the other hand, employees with healthy eating habits could go out of their way to cook for themselves or spend extra on more nutritious options.
But there are ways employers can encourage healthy eating.
If you have a workplace cafeteria, ensure it serves healthy meal options. Some companies either offer free healthy lunches or subsidize healthy lunches.
You could also hire a catering service to deliver healthy snacks and meals to your office or for your employees working from home.
You could also send employees care packages full of healthy snacks and drinks to boost their morale.
7. Therapist services
Employee wellness involves physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. That’s why companies must address employees’ emotional needs as well.
Providing the services of licensed therapists will ensure employees can get support for issues like substance abuse, depression, family problems, etc.
Not all stress is work-induced, and having a therapist visiting regularly will let employees confide in a professional about their problems.
You could also consider offering employees consultations with a life coach to help them achieve their career and wellness goals. Employees that work remotely can easily have their therapist consultations over a video call.
8. Breaks and naps
Changing workplace attitudes towards napping should be part of your corporate wellness drive.
Although you may be hesitant to embrace this wellness activity, allowing employees to nap at work can be beneficial.
A short nap during the day will leave employees feeling refreshed, boost their mood and increase their focus. Companies like Facebook have been taking advantage of the health benefits of afternoon naps by providing nap pods for employees.
If employees don’t want to nap at work, allow them to take regular breaks to relax. This goes a long way in preventing employee burnout.
9. Wellness challenges
Wellness challenges are significant short-term initiatives that can help improve employee wellbeing.
For example, a digital detox challenge or online workout tournament, where employees compete. You could sponsor prizes for the winners as added motivation.
Whatever challenge you choose, it’s good to have a way to track employee progress and recognize the winner. You could also provide wearable fitness trackers for employees to track their progress.
10. Wellness adventures
Wellness adventures are great for companies that want to motivate their employees and have them socialize at company-sponsored events, outside of the work environment.
Here are some events you could host:
- Fun runs, marathons, and triathlons.
- Sports days with football matches, golf tournaments, etc.
- Bowling, laser tag, etc.
These wellness activities also double as team-building events because they allow employees to relax and bond, promoting cooperation and collaboration.
For employees who can’t participate in any physical activity or work remotely, you could host quiz nights, games evenings, etc.
These virtual team-building activities not only promote teamwork but also lift morale and relieve stress.
By combining one, two, or more of these wellness activities, you can foster a healthier company culture.
3 challenges associated with wellness programs
Before implementing any of these employee wellness programs, it’s important to recognize some of the challenges that may arise:
1. Compromised employee health privacy
Employee wellness programs bring health privacy concerns to the forefront if employers adopt a heavy-handed approach to wellness programs.
Participation in these programs should be voluntary.
Additionally, if employees cannot participate in a corporate wellness program due to health reasons, employers shouldn’t expect their employees to disclose their specific conditions.
Forcing employees to disclose personal health information may cause them to adopt a negative attitude towards health initiatives in the future.
2. Lack of engagement
Convincing employees to participate in wellness programs is another challenge employers may face.
According to a study by United Healthcare Consulting, 63% of employees are unwilling to devote more than one hour daily to improve their health.
To improve engagement, one employee benefit you could consider is to offer time during their work hours for self-care or physical activity. They’re more likely to participate if it doesn’t take away from their personal time.
3. Single-dimensional focus
A corporate wellness program shouldn’t focus on just one aspect of employee health, like physical health.
A well-rounded approach is the best one, incorporating activities that address employees’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
In addition to physical, emotional, and mental health, employees are also increasingly concerned about their financial health. This aspect can impact others; for example, if an employee is in economic turmoil, this can affect their mental health, leading to depression.
Since these factors are linked, it’s best to provide a holistic support program to your team.
But how can you promote a culture of health among your employees?
4 practical tips to improve employee wellness
Here are a few tips to help make your employee wellness program successful:
1. Offer incentives
One of the greatest motivators for employees is incentives, including time off and financial incentives. You could reward employees for participating in wellness programs with gift cards, cash bonuses, additional paid time off, etc.
2. Gather biometric data
Most individuals overestimate the amount of exercise they do. They also underestimate the amount of time that they’re sedentary (sitting at their desks).
That’s why offering biometric screenings to employees can provide them with a better understanding of their current health.
Biometric screenings provide employees with information such as body mass index and blood glucose levels which can help motivate them to prioritize their health.
3. Get employee input
Ask your team what corporate wellness initiatives they would appreciate. If employees have input as to what programs you implement, they are more likely to participate actively.
Additionally, this gets your team invested in their collective health and wellbeing. It also presents an opportunity for you to get in touch with your employees’ needs personally.
4. Provide time management solutions
One of the most significant stress factors for employees is a lack of time management. Employees have to manage their workloads while maintaining a high quality of work.
That’s why even the best wellness program won’t help if employees don’t have the time to participate.
Fortunately, you can help alleviate some of this stress by introducing a time management solution like Time Doctor.
Time Doctor provides employees with the right tools and data they need to become more self-reliant, accountable, and productive.
For instance, employees can track how long they spend on tasks and use real-time reports to gain detailed insights into their productivity. Managers can also use these features to analyze employee performance with ease.
Additionally, employers and managers can use Time Doctor’s Work-Life Balance Widget to determine potential work-life balance issues in advance and step in to prevent employee burnout.
You can use the widget to see:
- Which employees are working outside of their scheduled shifts.
- Which employees are working too many hours daily.
- Which employees are working on weekends.
- Which employees are working late hours.
Check out the complete list of Time Doctor features for more information.
Although employee wellness programs have become buzzwords these days, a well-thought-out and carefully implemented employee wellness program can transform your employees’ lives for the better.
From reducing stress to increasing morale, wellness programs offer tons of benefits.
If you want to enjoy these benefits with your team, feel free to use the employee wellness programs and tips we covered above to get started right away.
Vaishali Badgujar is a Content and SEO specialist at Time Doctor, an employee-friendly time-tracking system that boosts productivity.