Integrating a wellness program in your workplace - A step-by-step guide

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The corporate culture encourages hard work, which leads many to put their work before their health. And while staying up late to complete tasks or showing up at work when you are sick show your commitment to your job, personal health should always come first.

Along with improving quality of life, mental and physical health also makes people better employees. In today’s blog, I provide a step-by-step guide on how to start a corporate wellness program.

Why Invest in Employee Wellness?

Introducing an employee wellness program provides companies with a host of benefits:

  • Lower healthcare costs
  • A safer workplace
  • Improved employee productivity, morale and loyalty
  • Reduced absenteeism

As an employee, providing health insurance is a significant expense. You can reduce these costs by investing in a corporate wellness program. Healthier employees take fewer sick days and will be more productive.

All of this will improve your bottom line while improving the quality of life for your employees.

Here’s how to launch a wellness program at your company:

1. Determine the needs of employees

The first step is to research and survey the needs of your employees.

The best corporate wellness programs are those that take these needs into account so start by creating a workplace survey.

Present ideas for wellness 'perks' to get feedback on whether these perks would be valuable to your employees.

  • Flexible work hours
  • Company-sponsored lunches (preferably healthy options)
  • Leisure areas within the workplace (TV room, games room)
  • Fitness area at the workplace
  • Better work incentives
  • Paid time off
  • Pets at work
  • Work from home availability

2. Make it easy for employees

There are several barriers to better health and wellbeing, most commonly, the lack of time, money or planning. This is why it's critical that employers make it easy for employees to get started with their health goals.

Providing planning tools, such as fitness plans or organizing group coaching sessions, will make it easy for employees to create milestones and reach their fitness goals.

Offering paid time off is also something that you can introduce to help employees focus on their health without losing a paycheck. Likewise, flexible working hours can help employees to incorporate gym time or yoga, Zumba, aerobics etc. in their daily schedules.

Better still, you can consider providing fitness and wellness facilities at the workplace itself. With a 40-hour workweek, employees are always running short of time. Adding a small gym at the office allows employees to stay fit whilst not adding any additional travel to their daily routine, it will also save them money on gym fees.

Alternatively, a ping-pong or pool table will give employees a chance to socialize and stretch their legs while enjoying a game.

All of these ideas make it easy for employees to focus on wellness as part of their daily schedule, which should be a key focus of your wellness programme.

3. Create a healthy company culture

Along with providing wellness perks, you can also work towards integrating health into the company culture. We have listed some ideas for how to achieve this below:

  • Provide healthy snacks. How about a free fruit bowl?
  • Add healthier menu options in the canteen. Clearly identify which menu options are considered healthy.
  • Have scheduled visits from medical professionals to the office so employees can discuss any issues they're facing. Think doctors, chiropractors, physiotherapists, counsellors ...
  • Participate in tax efficient healthy living schemes such as the CycleScheme in the UK
  • Offer flu vaccinations at the office
  • Encourage smokers to quit by subsidising aids for quitting
  • Install undercover racks in the car park to give cyclists a safe and dry place to store their bikes
  • Install a shower in the office to allow workers to run or cycle to work, or exercise during the day.
  • Create a mental health plan, including education, regular communications, and processes for employees who feel their mental health is suffering.
  • Set team challenges where people need to work together to cover a certain distance. How many stairs would you have to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. Can you cycle across America?
  • Organise regular group exercise sessions such as yoga, walking clubs, sporting teams. Even a 'game of rounders in the park' gets people together outside having fun.

There should also be clear guidelines on employee wellness in the company policy as laid out in the employee handbook. This way, new employees will automatically get on board with the wellness program.

4. Host wellness events

A great way to launch your wellness program is to hold an event, like a wellness fair. You can work with local wellness providers and offer a selection of wellness-based activities and incentives to increase the interest of employees. It is also a good way of determining the future success of the actual wellness program.

Of course, this should not be a one-time thing. You should conduct ongoing educational and promotional activities from time to time to keep employees focused on their wellness objectives.

5. Be patient

Last but not least, you need to give your wellness program some time. Wellness is a process, not something that happens overnight. That is why you need to set realistic targets with the understanding that change takes time.

This also means that you should measure the outcome of the program. So you can measure productivity, absenteeism and the overall mood of the workplace. Use your initial survey to provide a baseline for this, and resurvey after 6 months and 1 year to check the effectiveness of the program.

An employee wellness program will positively impact your organisation in many ways, from recruitment to company culture, as well as your bottom line. Using the steps and ideas given in this article will help you implement a successful wellness program in your company.