15 Wellness Activity Ideas to Incorporate Into Your Workplace Wellness Program
Engagement 15 minute read

15 Wellness Activity Ideas to Incorporate Into Your Workplace Wellness Program

Rise | April 18, 2024

In the modern workplace, corporate wellness programs are becoming more important for retaining top talent and improving employee performance. From offering healthy snacks and fitness classes to providing mental health resources and facilitating physical health, there are plenty of choices for what wellness activities to include.

Supporting your employees in maintaining happiness and health not only reduces absenteeism and enhances performance but also fosters a more engaged and productive workforce. It’ll help your bottom line as well. Research shows that "The Canadian government’s Workplace Wellness Plan return on investment (ROI) was $1.95-$3.75 per employee per dollar spent".

If you want to reap the myriad of benefits presented by workplace wellness programs, you need to start implementing them today. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the advantages of wellness programs and give you our favorite activities to inspire wellness programs for your company. 

What is an Employee Wellness Program?

An employee wellness program is a structured initiative implemented by organizations to promote and support the overall health and well-being of their employees. These programs typically encompass a wide range of activities, resources, and benefits designed to address various aspects of wellness, including physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being.

Examples may include fitness challenges, mindfulness sessions, health screenings, nutrition workshops, mental health support services, and flexible work arrangements. By investing in employee wellness, organizations aim to improve morale, enhance productivity, reduce healthcare costs, and foster a positive workplace culture. Overall, employee wellness programs play a crucial role in supporting employees' holistic health and happiness.

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What Are The Key Elements of a Wellness Program?

10 key elements can manifest in a comprehensive wellness program. Whilst your company's program does not need to encompass all 10 aspects, focusing on one or two elements at the core of your activities will ensure you are successful in meeting the needs of your employees:

  • Physical Wellness: Activities promoting physical health, such as fitness challenges, exercise classes, health screenings, and access to gym facilities or fitness reimbursement programs.
  • Mental Health Support: Resources for managing stress, anxiety, and depression, including counseling services, mental health workshops, mindfulness training, and employee assistance programs.
  • Nutritional Support: Education on healthy eating habits, nutrition workshops, access to healthy food options, and initiatives promoting hydration and balanced meals.
  • Emotional Well-Being: Strategies for managing emotions and building resilience, such as stress management workshops, emotional intelligence training, and support groups.
  • Social Connections: Opportunities for building social connections and fostering a sense of community, such as team-building activities, social events, and volunteer opportunities.
  • Work-Life Balance: Policies and programs promoting work-life balance, including flexible work arrangements, telecommuting options, and support for caregiving responsibilities.
  • Preventive Health Care: Initiatives encouraging preventive health measures, such as immunizations, health screenings, and wellness exams.
  • Financial Wellness: Resources for financial planning, budgeting, and debt management, as well as retirement planning workshops and access to financial counseling services.
  • Environmental Wellness: Initiatives promoting a healthy work environment, such as ergonomic assessments, access to natural light and green spaces, and programs supporting sustainability efforts.
  • Holistic Wellness: Integration of holistic approaches to wellness, including complementary and alternative medicine therapies, relaxation techniques, and access to massage therapy or acupuncture services.

What are the Benefits of an Employee Wellness Program?

Implementing employee wellness programs within your company will not only benefit the success of your company but will encourage a positive company culture that has wide-reaching effects on employees.:

  • Improved Employee Morale: Workplace wellness programs improve mental health and boost morale by promoting a culture of care and support, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and motivation among employees.
  • Enhanced Employee Engagement: These programs engage employees by providing opportunities for them to participate in activities that promote physical health, mental well-being, and work-life balance, fostering a sense of belonging and commitment.
  • Reduced Workplace Stress Levels: By offering stress management techniques, such as mindfulness sessions or counseling services, wellness programs help employees cope with workplace stressors, leading to a more productive, resilient, and content workforce.
  • Promotion of Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Wellness programs encourage employees to adopt healthier lifestyles through activities like fitness challenges, nutritional education, and smoking cessation programs, contributing to improved physical health and overall well-being.
  • Increased Employee Retention: Investing in workplace wellness demonstrates a company's commitment to its employees' well-being, leading to decreased employee turnover as individuals feel valued and supported, regardless of whether they work in-office or remotely.

 10 Examples of Health and Wellness Programs in the Workplace

Top 15 Employee Wellness Program Ideas

The key to a successful workplace is to ensure you have happy and healthy employees. Your workers are at the center of your business, so it is important to put in the time and effort to increase employee satisfaction, and one of the most effective ways to achieve that is through running dedicated worksite wellness programs. To help you tap into the various dimensions of wellness, we have collated some of our favorite wellness programs that are guaranteed to improve the employee experience in your business. 

1. Walking Meetings

Even if you have a standing desk, it pays to get moving during the work day. Incorporating walking meetings into your workplace wellness program is a novel way to ensure everyone gets up and moving throughout the day. A little fresh air might even help stimulate your creativity and will definitely improve physical wellness and employee health. 

Whether it's for a 1:1 or a team meeting, getting moving can be a great way to get ideas flowing. Research shows that "walking enhances people's creativity and productivity. If walking meetings aren't a good fit for your team, you can still encourage employees to step away from their desks, take a break, and go for a walk on their own to clear their heads and reach their health goals.

Breaking Routine and Addressing Working From Home Fatigue

2. Meditation breaks

Stress management should be an important part of any workplace wellness program. Taking a ten-minute break for meditation or implementing “no-talk times” during the day can help employees de-stress and refocus their energies for improved productivity. The benefits of meditation are plentiful, with the Mayo Clinic listing reduced stress, increased focus, improved sleep quality, and a lowered resting heart rate and blood pressure as some of the many benefits.

3. Mid-Day Fitness

Encourage employees to get some physical activity during the workday by offering on-site fitness classes during breaks or lunch hours. Many workplaces offer weekly yoga classes at lunch, or at Rise, we plan semi-regular group walks over lunch in Burnaby's beautiful Central Park.

Some workplaces—including Rise—offer fitness subsidies to their employees as well. The subsidies allow employees to pick a fitness benefit of their choosing—whether a gym membership, yoga pass, boxing, or whatever—and get a certain amount reimbursed by the company. It's a great way to support employee wellness activities without actually having to organize them, particularly if you have remote employees.

4. Cooking Classes

Healthy eating is just as important as fitness for maintaining employee wellness. Something as simple as introducing healthy foods into the workplace canteen can greatly influence employee health and mental clarity. Healthier food options on lunch breaks are a simple switch that can make a huge difference, but hiring a chef to offer a healthy cooking class can be a fun way to mix things up and get everyone engaged. You can also use MasterClass to support online cooking classes and utilize the opportunity to teach workers about the benefits of healthier food choices. 

5. Flu Shots

Not the most exciting of activities for employees, but a great way to support employee wellness—with the bonus of also helping prevent the spread of illness in your workplace. Prevention is the name of the game when it comes to health and wellness activities at work, and providing vaccinations during flu season is a great way to emphasize that. If you can, bring a nurse on-site to administer the shots and don’t forget to provide reminders for employees to opt in.

6. Socialising Events 

Socializing events are a vital component of any successful employee wellness program, offering workers opportunities to connect and bond outside of work duties. These events provide a wide range of benefits, fostering stronger relationships among colleagues and improving communication channels within the organization.

Whether it's through organized activities like board games or informal gatherings like happy hours, these events promote stress reduction and create a more positive work environment. By prioritizing social interactions, companies can cultivate a sense of belonging and camaraderie among employees, contributing to a successful employee wellness program.

7. Wellness Challenges

Health challenges and wellness challenges are fun ways to help improve employee well-being and performance. Examples from Snacknation include the eight-glasses-of-water-a-day challenge and the 7-hours-of-sleep-per-night challenge (whoever does the task for the most days during 30 days wins a prize).

A smoking cessation challenge could be another option for employees who smoke. Alternatively, “wellness” could relate to financial wellness, too. Challenging employees to cook more meals at home rather than eating out not only improves dietary health, but it also helps save money and improve financial health—the opportunities are endless!

 16 Workplace Wellness Challenge Ideas to Try at the Office

 8. Mental Health Resources

Mental health resources play a crucial role in corporate wellness programs, demonstrating a commitment to employee health and well-being. Especially relevant for remote employees and office workers alike, these resources aim to alleviate stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.

By offering counseling services, stress management workshops, and access to mental health professionals, companies create a supportive environment where employees feel valued and supported. Ultimately, integrating mental health resources into workplace wellness programs helps foster resilience, improve productivity, and enhance overall employee satisfaction and retention.

9. Mind-Body and Soul Activities

Mind-body and soul activities encompass practices like yoga, meditation, Thai chi, and mindfulness, offering holistic benefits for employee wellness. These activities promote stress reduction, mental clarity, and emotional resilience, fostering a positive work environment. Engaging in such practices enhances physical health, improves concentration, and boosts creativity, leading to higher productivity and job satisfaction.

Additionally, incorporating activities like massages or holistic therapies can alleviate physical tension and promote relaxation. By addressing the interconnectedness of mind, body, and soul, these programs empower employees to achieve greater balance, resilience, and overall well-being, contributing to a healthier and more vibrant workplace culture.

10. Flexible Work Arrangements

Something as simple as implementing flexible working arrangements, such as flexible working hours, can significantly enhance employee well-being. This approach acknowledges and accommodates diverse personal needs and responsibilities, reducing stress associated with rigid schedules. Employees gain autonomy over their work-life balance, leading to decreased burnout, improved mental health, and increased job satisfaction.

With the freedom to manage their time effectively, individuals can pursue personal interests, attend to family obligations, and prioritize self-care. Flexible arrangements also foster trust and loyalty, boosting morale and retention rates. Ultimately, this simple yet impactful wellness program promotes a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce.

11. Team Building Activities 

Team building activities serve as a valuable addition to any employee wellness program by fostering camaraderie, communication, and collaboration among team members. These activities create opportunities for employees to bond outside of their usual work tasks, strengthening relationships and building trust.

By promoting a sense of belonging and teamwork, team-building activities contribute to a positive work culture and enhance employee morale. Moreover, they provide a break from routine, reducing stress and boosting overall well-being, ultimately contributing to a more engaged and cohesive workforce.

Team-Building Icebreakers to Foster Connection and Engagement 

12. Smoking Cessation Initiative 

A Smoking Cessation Initiative within an employee wellness program is vital for promoting healthier lifestyles and addressing substance abuse concerns. By offering resources such as counseling, nicotine replacement therapy, or support groups, organizations demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being and align with core values of health and safety.

This initiative not only assists individuals in overcoming addiction but also contributes to a smoke-free workplace environment. As a cornerstone of workplace wellness activities, it empowers employees to make positive choices for their health, fostering a culture of wellness and resilience.

13. Financial Planning Workshops

A financial planning workshop is a valuable wellness program idea as it empowers employees to take control of their financial futures, reducing stress and promoting overall well-being. By providing practical guidance on budgeting, saving, and investing, it equips individuals with the tools to achieve financial security and peace of mind.

Improved financial literacy fosters responsible financial habits, reducing the likelihood of debt-related stressors. Moreover, understanding long-term financial planning fosters a sense of stability, enhancing mental health and productivity at work. Ultimately, investing in employees' financial wellness cultivates a supportive and resilient workplace environment conducive to personal and professional growth.

14. Improve Workspaces

Enhancing the aesthetics of a workplace is a crucial wellness initiative, as it directly impacts employees' physical and mental well-being. Involving employees in the process fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment, leading to increased engagement and satisfaction. A visually appealing environment promotes positive mood, creativity, and productivity while reducing stress and fatigue.

Employees feel more motivated and inspired in a well-designed space, leading to higher morale and retention rates. Moreover, collaborative efforts in beautifying the workplace strengthen teamwork and communication, fostering a supportive and cohesive work culture. Ultimately, prioritizing aesthetics creates a welcoming and harmonious atmosphere that contributes to overall employee happiness and success.

 15. Community Garden Initiatives

Community garden initiatives as workplace wellness programs offer numerous benefits. Employees engage in physical activity, fostering health and well-being through gardening whilst also gaining access to fresh produce, promoting healthy eating habits, and nutrition awareness. Participation in garden activities encourages teamwork, communication, and bonding among colleagues, enhancing workplace relationships.

Employees develop a sense of pride and ownership in nurturing the garden, boosting morale and satisfaction. Additionally, the garden serves as a green space for relaxation and stress relief, improving mental health. Overall, community garden initiatives not only promote physical wellness but also create a vibrant and supportive workplace environment conducive to employee happiness and productivity.

How To Track The Success of an Employee Wellness Program

Organizing yoga classes and health initiatives is all well and good, but pointless if you are not measuring their success. Different businesses and different teams will all respond differently to varying wellness programs, so team leaders or a dedicated wellness committee need to assess if the company is responding well to them or if they need to take a different approach.  Here are some of the most effective ways to track the success of your employee wellness programs:

Organize Regular Check-Ins

Regular check-ins provide valuable opportunities to assess employee engagement, satisfaction, and the effectiveness of wellness initiatives. By fostering open communication, addressing concerns promptly, and gathering feedback, check-ins enable organizations to tailor wellness programs to meet employees' evolving needs, ultimately contributing to their overall success and well-being. Rise's people management platform seamlessly facilitates regular check-ins which will provide employers with the opportunity to gauge the success of their wellness program. 

Utilize Surveys and Feedback Mechanisms

Regularly collect feedback from employees through surveys or feedback mechanisms. These could be anonymous surveys sent via email or conducted through platforms like Slack channels. Feedback can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of the wellness program, employee satisfaction levels, and areas for improvement.

Monitor Employee Retention Rates

Employee retention is a key indicator of the success of a wellness program. High employee turnover can be costly for companies and may indicate dissatisfaction or disengagement among employees. Track retention rates before and after implementing the wellness program to assess its impact on employee satisfaction.

Analyzing Data and Metrics

Collect and analyze data related to the wellness program's impact on employee health, productivity, and overall well-being. Look at metrics such as changes in healthcare utilization, participation rates in wellness activities, or improvements in health outcomes like reduced stress levels or increased physical activity. Regularly reviewing these metrics can help you gauge the effectiveness of the program and make data-driven decisions for improvement.

Is Implementing an Employee Wellness Program Worth It?

Yes, an employee wellness program is unequivocally worth it. These programs prioritize employee health and well-being, offering resources, support, and opportunities for personal growth. By promoting healthier lifestyles and providing access to wellness activities, employees experience improved physical fitness, reduced stress, and enhanced mental health.

Moreover, wellness programs demonstrate that employers value their employees beyond their work contributions, fostering loyalty and job satisfaction. With increased morale and job satisfaction, employees are more engaged, productive, and motivated, leading to a fulfilling work experience and ultimately contributing to a better quality of life and a successful business.

Improve Employee Wellness With Rise's People Management Platform

Rise's people management software stands out as a transformative tool designed with employees at the center. By prioritizing employee wellness with Rise's people management platform, you can foster a culture of engagement, accountability, and success in your organization

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