How to start an employee wellness initiative?

employee wellness initiative

If its people are its greatest asset, then it’s not hard to see why investing in the health and wellbeing of your employees makes excellent business sense. Aside from increasing productivity and efficiency while reducing absenteeism, simply showing that you care about your staff outside of their job descriptions can have a dramatic impact on morale. Kickstart your employee wellness initiative with these simple steps: assess needs, set goals, plan activities, promote participation, and measure success.

Whether you run a small team or a growing enterprise, we examine some simple tips to transform your employees’ working environment into a happier, healthier space.

Make healthy eating easy

In the morning madness rush (especially for employees who have a long commute ahead of them) finding the time to pack a healthy lunch is too often the last thing on the agenda. Once you’ve fallen into the habit of grabbing some fast food on your lunch break, or piecing together a ‘meal’ from the vending machine, it’s a difficult habit to break.

This is where you can help. Scout around for the companies which offer the healthiest options for delivery, and offer to subsidize your employees’ costs if they order from them. Keep healthy, easy to grab snacks available for free in the kitchen – ready-sliced fruit and veggies, and whole wheat rolls staff can use to make up their own sandwiches with are a perfect (and affordable) place to start. Swap out those Friday afternoon pizza parties for something healthy and a little more exotic – giving your staff the chance to try cuisine they might never have experienced before. 

Do something totally different – combat stress with virtual reality!

Around the globe, there are a surprising number of health and wellness use cases for virtual reality emerging; from the treatment of PTSD to helping people quit smoking. Another intriguing application for businesses is the use of VR headsets for guided meditation and relaxation to help combat stress – one of the workplace’s biggest productivity killers.

If you’ve got limited space at your premises, then this might be an excellent option to look into – especially seeing virtual reality (VR) equipment hire means you don’t actually have to purchase headsets to run an immersive program over a few weeks or months. Companies sometimes struggle to rustle up much enthusiasm from their employees around wellness initiatives, but give something like this a go, and the sheer novelty factor will have your staff lining up to participate! 

Exercise – Use what you’ve got

Some companies are lucky enough to be situated in a location that naturally lends itself to outdoor activities, but most are not so fortunate. Start with what is available in your area. If there’s a local park, starting an office lunchtime walking group is a great idea to encourage light physical activity, and create an opportunity for employees to de-stress.

If you’re carting your staff off for a team-building exercise, try to pick something that gets them outdoors. If you or one of your employees is a keen yogi, clear some space every now and then for an office session with them as the ‘teacher’. If the budget allows, have some kind of dance or fitness instructor come in every now and then to get your employees moving with a beginners’ lesson.

Offer a secure spot for employees who’re able to cycle into work to stash their bikes. Encourage use of the stairs rather than the lift. Investigate the possibility of offering standing desks, or simply a few raised stations, so staff members aren’t forced to sit for hours on end if they don’t want to. Switching to standing meetings can be beneficial both for your employees’ health, and to hurry these notorious time-suckers along!

Incentivize healthy choices

The best way to get anyone to do anything? Make it worth their while! Whether it’s running a contest between departments to instigate some healthy competition, or offering an individual prize for most improved (even if it’s just a free personal day), offering incentives always spices things up.

Inform and educate

Most offices have at least one ‘health nut’. If you’ve got your own, ask if they’d like to become the company’s official Employee Wellness Champion. Once a month, have them select a short YouTube clip or talk to share with the office. They could also put together a monthly wellness newsletter, with links to interesting articles or reviews of any health documentaries currently streaming.     

Make it clear to all your employees that their health is important to you, and that you’re open to any suggestions. If a number of your employees have similar concerns around a particular subject or illness, such as diabetes or heart disease, take the time to educate yourself about it. And finally – lead by example. Your employees look to you for guidance in a lot of things, and balancing work with a healthy lifestyle is definitely one them.

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