Corporate wellness programs, whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, can be quite impactful when they are done right. However, they need to be handled carefully, or they can do more harm that good.
On the bright side, a well-integrated, comprehensive corporate wellness program can bring a lot of good to your company and your employees as individuals. A review of 62 studies by the American Journal of Health Promotion found a 25% reduction in costs in sick leave, health plans, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance for companies with comprehensive wellness programs.
Picking the best corporate wellness program that will work for your office will come down to a combination of budget, individual employees, office culture, and current working conditions. As noted by the Harvard Business Review, creating a corporate wellness program needs to be more than one-time events pretending to be a comprehensive program. Activities that are not integrated into a larger structure are likely to fail.
When drawing up the best corporate wellness program for your organization, there are a few universal practices that will be helpful to keep in mind.
- Corporate wellness programs should be accessible. Each employee will have a unique health concern or goal so creating a program that can target sleep hygiene, healthy eating, quitting smoking, and other health goals is ideal.
- The office culture should support the wellness program. It is hard to stay on a program when temptations abound. Offering health snack options in the break room or vending machines, offering sit/stand desks, subsidizing gym memberships, and more can all go a long way to ensure your employees stay on track.
Fig. 1 shows wellness programs offered by companies
- The wellness program is tied into working conditions. The best corporate wellness program is one that is not disparate from the working conditions of your organization – that is, it is important to tackle factors that could contribute negatively to your employees’ health before rolling out a wellness program. If your employees are eating processed foods or smoking to blow off steam because they are stressed at work, even the best wellness program will make no gains until the underlying cause is targeted.
We’ve compiled 7 corporate wellness program ideas that you can begin to integrate into your workspace. In our experience, beginning with steps that will begin to weave healthfulness into the fabric of your organization are great foundation steps before investing in flashy or expensive wellness experiences, seminars, or gadgets.
1. Water is the essence of life.
Our first idea of the best corporate wellness program for your organization is water. Drinking water can do so many wonderful things for you from reducing stress levels to improving sleep quality to clearing breakouts. Your employees should be drinking at least eight glasses a day and to encourage this, ensure that you have a water cooler available at all times.
2. Offering flexible work schedules or remote options.
This might not be possible for every organization (hello, emergency doctors!). But if your organization can swing it, offering flexible or remote work options is a free way to immediately reduce stress in your employees’ lives. While this is an especially great perk for those who have children, this can improve any employee’s stress level by letting them come in early or work late to meet their work/life balance needs.
3. Ergonomic workstations.
For office workers that sit in chairs all day, a sit/stand desk can change the game. But you can think even bigger than that. Comfortable chairs, easy-on-the-hands keyboards, and even plants will also make an impact on your employees’ mental health. For example, in the winter, many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder so offering as much natural lighting as possible can be a major mood and productivity booster.
4. Reduce noise pollution.
Studies have shown that exposure to loud noises like road traffic, aircraft noise, and modern appliances can increase the chance of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Additionally, noise pollution can cause noise annoyance – feelings of irritation, dissatisfaction, and nuisance. Reducing noise pollution with white noise makers or creating a “quiet space” where employees can go to work silently or recharge are both good options.
5. Have walking meetings.
I don’t know about you, but I have had entire days eaten up in meetings. Not only do meetings reduce an employees’ (or yours) ability to stretch and move around. Walking meetings can get employees outside and moving. Exercise has been shown to increase productivity and being outside will likely give your employees a brain boost. A 2015 study found that walking for just half an hour a day helps employees feel less tense, more enthusiastic, and more relaxed.
6. Volunteer days.
There’s a couple of different ways you can create company-sponsored volunteer days. You can either offer paid ‘days off’ to allow your employees to take a few days each quarter or year to volunteer their time to a cause that matters to them. On the flipside, you can designate a day each quarter to be Staff Volunteer. All of your employees can contribute together to clean up a park or beach or meet some other community need. This does double duty because it can also be a great team building exercise.
7. Have a pet or dog-friendly office.
The research is in and it’s clear that having animals around improves mental health. In fact, just petting a dog can release feel-good hormones that reduce blood pressure and improve mood. If creating a dog-friendly workplace is out of the question, this suggestion still isn’t out of reach for you. Allowing employees to bring in fish can also have positive impacts.
A corporate wellness program can have long-lasting impacts both for your organization as well as your employees. The journey to health is one step forward each day. Integrating aspects of health into everyday working life is the first step toward health, productive employees now and in the future.
Do you have any suggestions for the best corporate wellness program? Let us know in the comments below!