Developing a fitness habit or a health habit can take considerable effort, with estimates ranging “anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic”. Considering the improvements made to the health and well-being of a workplace, and the amount of time we spend at our workplaces, it makes sense to foster workplace wellness programs. Not only does it affect the productivity output of team members, but it makes them feel good in all areas of life—including work.
As the world of work progresses, one of the signs of a top-notch employer will be the quality of their workplace wellness program in recruiting and retaining talent. Big or small, all businesses can benefit from some form of a wellness initiative at work.
Workplace wellness programs that emphasize employee wellbeing, in and out of the office
1. On-site fitness centres
This might be considered the granddaddy of all corporate wellness program examples. Not everyone can provide their team members with a 72,000 square foot fitness centre, but Chesapeake Energy considers it a completely justified expense for recruiting and retaining healthy team members. The fitness centre offers team members an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a rock climbing wall, and access to personal trainers.
The fitness centre is just one part of the company's 'Living Well' program, which offers cash incentives for team members who participate and meet their goals in various areas of the program. Chesapeake Energy clearly cares about their team members' well-being and has provided them with as much support as possible to help them reach their goals.
2. Smoking cessation programs
It's no secret that, on average, team members who smoke cigarettes cost their employers more money due to health issues compared to non-smokers. Some workplaces have found it in their best interest, both ethically and economically, to offer smoking cessation programs to their team members.
Union Pacific offers a smoking cessation program that consists of lifestyle coaching, as well as pharmacological assistance, to their team members. Their program has helped reduced the number of their team members who smoke from 40% in the 1990s down to 17% in 2007.
Union Pacific understands that pharmaceuticals alone may not work for all team members. The addition of coaching for team members trying to quit smoking may make the difference between success and failure.
3. Transit options
Encouraging alternative methods of transportation, such as bike sharing or public transit incentives, are beneficial to the workplace and the future of the environment. Facebook's campus in Palo Alto offers a bike-sharing program for team members to cycle to places around campus rather than driving. At Rise, we encourage our team members to take public transportation by reimbursing employees for their transit passes.
These types of workplace wellness programs appeal to current and potential employees who value environmental responsibility.
4. Paramedical services
Google offers paramedical services, like massage therapy, to their team members while they're at work. In fact, Google employs a massage program manager, as just one of 35 massage therapists employed in their United States offices. Massage therapists go through an interview process at the company as well, where they demonstrate their skills (which sounds great for the interviewer).
There's a reason why Google is consistently rated one of the best workplaces in the world. Going above and beyond what team members expect from their employer is a great way to encourage a reciprocal effort. A relaxed and calm team member is a joy to have in the workplace, which is likely the main reason that Google offers the service.
5. Yoga classes
Mobify offers their team members yoga classes twice per week, which, weather permitting, is moved to their rooftop boasting stunning views of Vancouver's ocean and mountains. The most important requirement for practising yoga is the space to do it, and many companies are using their conference or break rooms to provide yoga classes for team members throughout the workday.
Yoga and meditation is an extremely effective stress reliever. Team members at startups or PR agencies often have to deal with tight deadlines and overtime. Yoga is an effective way to incorporate self-care into work, so that team members don't have to feel guilty about neglecting work.
6. Lunch and healthy snacks
With only 30 minutes for lunch, many team members may feel that they have to eat fast food when buying their lunch. Bandwidth offers a 90-minute Fitness Lunch to their team members—enough time to play a sport, hit the gym, or to head home for a healthy homemade lunch. Again, Google sets the bar high with their cafeterias, offering catered lunches and snacks to team members throughout the day. Services have popped up recently that will deliver healthy snacks to your office, like Natural Source and Mindful Snacks.
A lunch and snack program will appeal to all of your team members—since everyone has to eat! Promoting healthy eating in the workplace benefits everyone in the office. Healthy and communal eating programs encourage interaction between people from different teams, and the cafeteria provides one such place where a large and diverse workforce can mingle and connect.
7. Employee assistance programs
Wellness not only means taking care of the body but the mind as well. Accenture provides confidential support for issues like stress, substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. Accenture knows a lot of work-related stress can be addressed outside of the workplace through guided support programs, so they provide access to programs, such as financial assistance, for all of their employees. Employees are also rewarded for setting wellness goals and accomplishing them.
Employees who need extra assistance outside the workplace get the help they need to perform their best. Companies like Accenture realize that support for their employees shouldn't end once they leave the building. By providing extra support initiatives, organizations can communicate a certain level of empathy and support for their people, thus boosting satisfaction and confidence between the employer and the employee.
How does an after-lunch snooze sound? Professional or not, there's no argument that a good nap always leaves one feeling completely refreshed. That's why innovative companies like Zappos, Facebook, and Asana provide specialized nap rooms for employees looking to catch some afternoon rest. Due to the flexible work schedules, employees can catch a quick nap and return to their projects with renewed energy.
While simply having a dedicated nap room isn't technically a "program", naps have clinically proven benefits when it comes to productivity. We've all felt that afternoon lull after lunch. But we're not telling you to let Steve from the accounting department hibernate under his desk. We're telling you to let employees recharge in ways that suit them best. Maybe it's allowing employees extra time to go outside for a walk or having a quiet area for staff members to read. The idea is to not be so rigid in the ways employees spend their off time. Everyone gets energized in different ways and finding out what those are can improve mental wellness and productivity.
9. Wellness challenges
Workplace challenges related to wellness, from health challenges to fitness challenges, are effective in promoting healthy lifestyles within your workforce. At Rise, we've designed and ran workplace wellness challenges that encouraged our team members to engage in workouts of their choosing and drink more water at the office. By tracking their progress, their team would be eligible to win a health-related prize at the month's end.
Our monthly fitness challenges and water challenges were successful in promoting regular physical exercise and daily hydration amongst our people. It's become a core part of our company culture, motivating our teams to reach goals, interact with their colleagues, and improve their wellness habits.
10. Wellness adventures
Like many companies, Zappos offers fitness subsidies, health benefits, and wellness reimbursements. According to their wellness coordinators, physical activity is important but shouldn't be made mandatory. As a part of their wellness efforts, the Zappos team schedules optional wellness adventures for their employees with the goal of getting away from their desks for a little while. This could look like a one hour golf lesson or even laser tag. The wellness adventures are kept broad to appeal to a wide range of people, and most importantly, are focused on having fun.
Hosting wellness adventures is great fun for everyone. Remember, not everyone is able to participate in all physically active events. Scheduling a wide range of monthly events can let those who get their exercise elsewhere, or who aren't very active at all, join in. It appeals to more people because it focuses on fun first rather than exercise.