Employee wellness programs have been known to benefit the employees immensely. Right from an improved quality of life to a positive change in employee behavior, research suggests that wellness programs have several benefits. Not only does it help increase the overall productivity, but it also saves money for employers.  

Wellness programs result in employees’ better health behavior, an increase in overall engagement, improved work culture, and many benefits that help drive the employees’ personal and professional growth.

Despite such benefits, there seems to be a gap in these wellness programs. Several findings suggest that corporate wellness programs fail to take off. According to a survey, around 60% of nonparticipant employees don’t participate in a wellness program even if they want to.

These stats point to one thing. Having a wellness program is not enough. You need to ensure that you have the right wellness program. Only the right program can benefit your employees and improve job satisfaction, attrition rates, reduce your health costs, and more. 

Do You Need a Wellness Program?

Source: Mercer

An employee wellness program is your way of showing that you care about your employees’ health and wellbeing, and 70% of employees feel that way too. A well-designed wellness program takes care of the employee’s health as well as your bottom-line. 

To add to that, rising healthcare costs make it all the more important to include the right elements in your employee wellness program. But how do you decide? Let us help you with that.

How to Build the Right Employee Wellness Program 101

1. Do Your Research

You must do your research about the health and wellness needs of your employees before creating a program. Even with the best of intentions, if your wellness programs fail to address your employees’ needs, they won’t participate in them.

You should start by conducting a wellness survey. This survey should cover points about fitness levels, goals, etc. For instance, if your findings suggest that 30% of your employees work out 1-3 times a week and 70% of your employees lead a sedentary lifestyle, it becomes easier to create a roadmap. 

Based on this survey, you could create a wellness program that promotes physical activity and motivates your employees to lead a more active lifestyle. However, you should carry out these surveys in an anonymous way to protect the employees’ privacy.

Similarly, you can look at other companies that have amazing employee wellness programs. One such company is Zappos. They’ve curated their wellness program to include off-site activities like golf and laser tag, which encourage voluntary participation and keep things fun at the same time. 

2. Fitness Activities and Incentives

Your employees must lead a healthy lifestyle to prevent chronic diseases and any long-term illnesses. Spending 8+ hours slouching over our laptops is not doing our body any favors. With a busy work schedule and an ‘I’ll start next Monday’ phenomenon, finding motivation is a challenge for many. To add to that, people are often burdened with stress about deadlines, taking care of their family, and countless other factors.

A good employee wellness program should focus on both physical and mental fitness. This holistic approach is what makes any wellness program successful. Providing fitness incentives such as ‘corporate discounts’ at gyms and fitness clubs is a great way to promote fitness. Likewise, you could also make fitness activities like football evenings or cricket matches a part of your work culture.

While you are including in-office activities, it’s crucial to give your employees several options to allow them the opportunity to participate in something that interests them.

3. Gamify Your Goals

Can you imagine what would happen if you made fitness into a fun activity? This is where gamification comes in. You can introduce healthy competition (quite literally) amongst your employees to motivate them and make fitness fun at the same time.

Adding rewards is a great way to motivate employees to participate in the employee wellness program and lead a healthy lifestyle. For instance, Houston Methodist has a ‘CEO Challenge’ where the employees have to ‘over-step’ the CEO by walking more steps than them. The winners are selected for a lucky draw which gives them the chance to win $150 monthly and even yearly rewards ranging from $200 to $15,000.

Challenges like these give employees a ‘goal’ that they can achieve, but they also involve the managers and leaders to participate and bring the whole team together.

4. Focus on Nutrition

Fitness and food go hand-in-hand. To lead a healthy lifestyle, employees have to consume the right nutrients regularly. As employees spend a good chunk of their day in an office, paying attention to their nutrition is a good way to boost their health.

For instance, you can introduce catered lunches as a part of your employee wellness program and arrange seminars by nutritionists to increase awareness about health and nutrition. 

Similarly, the wellness program can include rewards for participation in the nutrition plan to motivate the employees further. However, it’s important to tread carefully here as this can be a sensitive subject for many. 

While you are conveying the message about nutrition and offering rewards, you must ensure that it is strictly about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle and not about weight loss. Further, you should make sure that you do not punish the employees in any way if they choose to not participate in this program.

5. Mental Health and Mindfulness

Any employee wellness program is incomplete without a focus on mental health and mindfulness. It becomes even more critical when you realize that 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems (14.7%) in the workplace.

Source: HR Executive

You can start by removing the stigma around mental health.  As a celebration of World Mental Health Day, MPL dedicated the entire month of October to raising awareness and driving conversations around mental wellbeing through their ‘Talktober’ program.

By hosting workshops on mental health and anxiety topics, you will assure your employees that you are there for them if they need any help. 

You can look at the mental wellness program of EY called ‘r u okay?’ They noticed an increase of 30% in their mental health assistance number after this program was introduced. The program focuses on addressing the stigma of mental health and normalizing the conversations that surround it, especially in the workplace.

The ‘r u okay’ program gave employees access to a 24-hour hotline, management consultation, counseling, legal assistance, etc. and by doing so, facilitated the normalization of mental wellbeing in the workplace.

While you do implement such policies and plans, you have to remember that mental health is an extremely sensitive topic. You must ensure and assure your employees that there’s complete confidentiality and discretion regarding these programs.

In Conclusion

Employee wellness programs are based on employee needs and your goals. A wellness program should introduce a healthier way of living to improve the employees’ overall lifestyle. You can use the points above to start planning your wellness programs that are best suited for your company’s needs. 

To help facilitate an increase in your employees’ overall wellness, you can reach out to Plum. We offer health benefits that go beyond insurance. Services like unlimited consultations, access to personal therapists, and fitness centers are just a few of the benefits that will add to your efforts to improve your employees’ wellness.