How to Create Wellness Programs That Your Employees Will Love

How to Create Wellness Programs That Your Employees Will Love

In the last few years, I’ve watched the structure of the workplace change radically. Before the pandemic, individuals commuted hours via train and car. A small percentage had the benefit of flexible hours to make that commute and/or the ability to work from home a few days per week.

Once companies were ordered to close down, they scrambled to get the Work From Home (WFH) model up and running. Zoom and makeshift home offices became commonplace almost overnight. Initially, it was hailed as a revolution, as less commuting led to lower environmental emissions, as well as what many thought to be an improved work-life balance.

But as the restrictions on COVID have eased, companies have called workers back to the office, and the environmental gains we saw have returned to pre-pandemic levels. The WHF Hybrid Work models are proving to be highly effective for some individuals,  showing extremely positive results.  But for others, they have led to increased stress levels due to the blurring of the lines between work and home. WFH has led to a decrease in job satisfaction, as well as a drastic rise in feelings of loneliness.

In 2022, the World Health Organization showed a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide, and a study from Mind Share Partners disclosed that approximately 76% of full-time U.S. workers reported experiencing at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the past year.

Employee well-being is something companies can’t ignore because it’s the people within the company that drive a company forward. Your people are the life’s blood of your ability to operate –– and thrive. Many companies have begun to invest in wellness programs to support the physical and mental health of their workforce.

But creating programs your employees actually want to participate in is an entirely different matter. In this article, I’m going to take you through how to create wellness programs for your company, but also challenge you to think differently about them.

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Introduction to Wellness Programs

In the traditional sense, a wellness program is a strategy implemented by companies to help promote the health and well-being of their employees. It’s an investment in the people that work for the company, to create a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce.

Wellness programs can include activities such as yoga classes, gym memberships, nutrition counseling, healthy lifestyle seminars, and more. Companies can also provide access to mental health support, such as counseling, online therapy, and stress management courses.

Workplace wellness programs are often designed to support a company’s workplace culture, attract and retain high-quality staff, as well as reduce the costs associated with absenteeism, medical bills, and employee turnover.


The Benefits and Limitations of Wellness Programs

The benefits of wellness programs are far-reaching. They can help improve employee morale and create a sense of community among staff. Wellness programs can also help to reduce stress levels, promote physical activity, and encourage healthy eating habits.

Additionally, wellness programs can help to increase productivity in the workplace, and reduce the costs associated with absenteeism and medical bills. By investing in the health of your employees, your company can also benefit from improved morale and better job satisfaction. Studies have also shown that wellness programs can help to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

But here’s the kicker, wellness programs are often expensive, and their wide-scale effectiveness is questionable, often because of the lack of incentivization for employees to actively participate in them.

Wellness programs only work if the people participating in them want to make changes in their lives. Changing a behavior, and creating new habits, is one the hardest things anyone can do. And often, there has to be a very good reason to attempt it.


Wellness Program Ideas

So how do you create workplace wellness programs that will help your employees?

First, start by asking them what they want. Give them a choice.

Send out a company survey to whoever works for you and simply ask them what they would find most valuable. This survey can include:

  • Yoga and meditation classes
  • Gym memberships or virtual fitness memberships
  • Health and Nutrition counseling
  • Counseling or coaching reimbursements
  • Subscriptions to apps such as Calm or Headspace
  • Lifestyle challenges powered by a platform such as Wellbeing
  • Personal development/education reimbursement
  • Yearly wellness budgets that allow them to choose how they spend.
  • Mindfulness programs
  • Outdoor and nature experiences


You can even ask them how they would respond to concepts like:

  • Wellness Away Days: Ask your people how they would feel about your company providing vacation days specifically to be used for wellness-related activities such as yoga classes, spa treatments, or outdoor excursions.
  • Wellness Rooms: If you’re asking your people to come back to the office, the environment matters. Ask your people if they would like wellness spaces. Companies can create a room in the workplace that is designed to help employees relax and recharge during the workday. These rooms may include amenities such as massage chairs, natural light, and calming music.
  • Mental Health Days: Ask your people how they would feel about your company allowing them to take time off from work to focus on their mental health. This may include activities such as meditation, therapy, reading, or no-tech days.

If you ask your people what they want, they’re far more likely to use the benefits and take the time to take care of their emotional and physical needs.


How to Implement a Wellness Program

To implement a successful corporate wellness program, it’s important to ensure that the program is tailored to the needs of your employees. Once you’ve gathered feedback from your employees, you can begin to craft the program. It’s important to make sure that the program is well-rounded, and includes activities and services that cater to the physical, mental, and emotional health of your employees.

When crafting the program, it’s important to remember that wellness is a journey, not a destination. As such, it’s important to create a program that is flexible and can be adapted as needs change.

  • Start with an organizational assessment. Gather information on the organization’s needs, your wellness program's desired outcomes, and the available resources.
  • Identify the best approach. Consider which type of wellness program would be most effective at meeting the organization’s objectives.
  • Choose an implementation team. Select a team of individuals who will be responsible for the implementation of the program. This should include representatives from management, human resources, and other stakeholders.
  • Develop an implementation plan. Establish a timeline and budget for the program and decide on any additional resources needed to make it successful.
  • Create a program curriculum. Develop a program curriculum incorporating wellness practices and activities you selected.
  • Create a feedback and evaluation process. Develop a system for gathering feedback and evaluating the program to measure its success.
  • Market the program. Promote the program to your employees so they know what’s available and encourage them to participate. This shouldn’t be hard if they were included in choosing what’s offered within it.


How to Measure the Effectiveness of a Wellness Program

Creating a corporate wellness program is a great way to show your employees that you care about their health and well-being by investing in the physical, mental, and emotional health of your people. It’s important to remember that wellness is a journey, not a destination. As such, it’s important to create a program that is flexible and can be adapted as needs change. By leveraging the available resources  and tracking progress, your company can create a wellness program that your employees will love.

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