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 adding scooters and mini trampolines to your office, there are plenty of choices for what wellness activities to include. It’s important to note that your program doesn’t have to be all about fitness. Allowing flexible employee scheduling or hybrid work options can work wonders for employee wellness, too.
Helping your employees stay happy and healthy can not only reduce absenteesim and improve performance, but can also lead to 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".
Whatever you choose, you’ll be sure to reap the benefits of implementing your workplace wellness program. Here are eight fun wellness activities at work to add into your corporate health program.
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 make sure that everyone gets up and moving throughout the day. A little fresh air might even help stimulate your creativity.
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. According to neuroscientists, walking increases blood flow to the brain, which helps people to express ideas more fluently". If walking meetings aren't a good fit for your team, you can still encourage employees to step away from their desk, take a break, and go for a walk on their own to clear their heads.
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 in during the workday by offering on-site fitness classes during breaks or lunch hours. Many workplaces offer weekly yoga 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 own choosing—whether a gym membership, yoga pass, boxing, whatever—and get a certain amount if it reimbursed by the company. It's a great way to support employee wellness activities without actually having to do any work, particularly if your team is remote or hybrid.
4. Cooking classes
Healthy eating is just as important as fitness for maintaining employee wellness. Nutritious snacks are almost a given for any wellness program, 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.
5. Flu shots
Not everyone’s favourite activity, 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. Fitness challenges
A bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone. Workplace fitness challenges can be as simple as tracking the number of steps taken with pedometers, or as ambitious as clocking how many miles everyone runs in a week. Don’t forget to provide a healthy prize for the winner.
7. Wellness challenges
In addition to fitness 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 a 30-day period 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 helps save money as well—the opportunities are endless!
8. Employee surveys
No matter what you include in your employee wellness program, feedback should be a key element. It’s important to know what’s working and what needs to be changed, and opening channels for employees to have a say can be key to program engagement.
Monthly surveys, suggestion boxes, or idea boards can be helpful. Town-hall style meetings are also an effective way to get employee feedback, depending on your company culture.
On top of all these healthy offerings, making sure you have a competitive and generous benefits plan can go a long way towards ensuring your workforce is healthy.
Benefits like Flexible Spending Accounts or subsidized gym passes can help employees get access to the resources they need to stay fit. Further, regular massages, dietary consultations, and wellness counselling can help ensure that your team—and your business—are healthy for the long term.