How Do You Promote Wellness In The Workplace? (Why Employee Wellness Matters)


Employees are the most important asset for any organization and the way they are treated will determine their productivity and overall profitability of the company. Putting together wellness programs encourages teamwork, reduces absenteeism due to illnesses and increases productivity in the end. 

But how do you promote employee wellness in the organization? Promote wellness in the workplace is by putting together wellness programs like health screenings, company-sponsored exercises, educational seminars, encouraging breaks and doing everything you can to alleviate stress among your employees.  There are so many ways of promoting wellness but what they all come down to is that the good health of employees translates to the overall good of the company. 

When you invest in the health of your employees, it makes a great difference in both the teams and the company. Recent studies have it that workplace wellness programs work and 61 percent of employees agree that such programs have forced them to make healthier lifestyle choices.

While many companies would want to put in place wellness programs, budget is always a main issue of concern. However, you can still implement such programs even with a limited budget by starting small.

Why Employee Wellness?

April is usually Stress Awareness Month and is dedicated to creating awareness around the globe on the causes of stress and its effects on the overall health of a person. Work-relatedOpens in a new tab. stress has been shown to lead to all manner of health issues including depression and as such, it would be in everyone’s best interest if companies were to embrace wellness programs aimed at reducing work-related stress. By why bother about employee wellness in the first place?

Work is One of the Leading Causes of Stress

According to the American Institute of Stress, 75 to 90 percent of all visits to physicians are stress related and various studies conclude that occupation related fears and pressure are the leading causes of stress among the working population. 

Currently, 40 percent of the working population say that their jobs are extremely stressful with 26 percent saying that they always feel stressed when at work. (We have written a related article – 15 emotional signs of stress in the workplaceOpens in a new tab.)

Work Related Stress Are Costly to Companies

Since a majority of employee experience some level of stress when at work or experience stress due to other factors in their jobs, this costs companies big.

It is estimated that companies end up spending $300 billion every year due to absenteeism and health care that results from work-related stress and this figure doesn’t include the money that a company spends from lowered productivity due to disengaged employees.

What to Include in the Wellness Program?

Gym membership and yoga classes are some of the things that come in mind when one talks about office wellness programs. While these are great activities that can promote the health and wellness of employees, there is so much more than you can include in the wellness program.

1. Fitness Activities

Chances are that most of your employees spend about 40 hours every week in the office. Such employees need to have some spare time to get away from their desks and exercise if they are to be productive.

With the right budget, there are companies that have already set up on-site gyms and fitness classes but for small companies, such perks are not possible. So what can you do?

Instead of setting up a gym, you could reimburse employees for purchases that are related to fitness or encourage them to form exercise groups for after work hours.

2. Health Benefits

Exercise not only boosts the immune system but is a great way of fighting conditions like stress, heart disease, obesity, and the likes.

During cold weather, employers can do more for their employees by offering flu shots and encouraging those who are sick to stay at home. Another good strategy is to ensure that there is always a fully stocked first aid kit to cater to health-related emergencies or having a dedicated wellness roomOpens in a new tab. where employees can tend to their health needs. 

3. Mental Health Activities

Stress is one of the silent killers that can trigger serious health problems like depression and anxiety if not treated. The reason why stress is dangerous is that it is hard to tell that someone is stressed. The mental health of your employees should be at the top of the list of concerns aimed at building a healthy and productive workforce.

The first way of preventing stress is to ensure that everyone works at the stipulated time. Encourage your employees to take a break and proceed with work when they are well rested. While it may seem like your employees are giving you their best when they burn candles, in the long run, it will have severe effects on their health which will affect the profitability of the company.

You can ensure that the office is closed at a reasonable hour so that everyone gets a well-deserved rest. Additionally, you can encourage your employee to take some time off and utilize their leave days and that they don’t just take leave when they have other matters to attend to. (We have written a related article – 25 top stress relief productsOpens in a new tab.)

4. Social Activities

There are employees who prefer to take a break on their own and blow off steam in their own ways. However, from time to time, encourage group activities like socializing and getting to know each other better. For instance, you could plan game nights after work, office book clubs or any other activity that they may enjoy.

5. CSR Activities

There is a certain feeling that comes from doing good and helping others and maybe this is what your employees need to relax and distress. Every now and then organize volunteer activities where staff members can go out of their way to help those in need within the community. It is not only a way to reduce stress but helps them socialize outside the office walls.

6. Team Building

Contrary to popular belief, team building shouldn’t just be something that you do every end of the year. Strengthen the team by organizing team building activities either quarterly or half yearly. Through team building activities they are able to socialize which ends up reducing stress and anxiety.

Why Employee Wellness Matters

To have a healthy and productive workforce, the wellness of your employees is paramount. Here are a few reasons why you should put together an employee wellness program.

1. The Success of the Company

Today more and more people are becoming health conscious but due to stress, multitasking and long work days, it has become difficult to find the time to work on their wellness goals. It is up to the company, therefore, to ensure that there are wellness programs in place since an employee will spend the majority of their time at work.

2. Prevent Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases make up 75 percent of total healthcare costs. Compared to other diseases, chronic disease like stroke, heart disease, obesity, and cancer are also way more preventable by taking steps to stop their progression.

However, since habits are formed gradually and become a part of us, behavior change will not happen in a day. With commitment, however, progress is possible. When putting together an employee wellness program, these are some of the things that you need to consider and ensure that you address so that the program will work for the good of the employees and the company at large.

3. Reduce Rising Costs of Healthcare

Year after year, health care costs continue to rise and some employers especially those at small companies can no longer afford to deal with these costs. So what do they do?

Most of them pass the burden of healthcare to their employees in terms of higher deductibles which only adds to the problems they already have. What employers can do is lower the contribution of an employee if they participate in a wellness program.

4. Workplace Wellness Is Long Term

The success of any wellness program in an organization is determined by the strategy behind it. It involves creating a framework that includes both short and long term goals of the employer and the employee. For such programs to work there is a need for leadership, support as well as commitment from both parties. 

A successful corporate wellness program will take time and will evolve over time and it doesn’t have one solution. It is a combination of solutions all working together under a single strategy and involves communication, education, and incentives to work.

5. Improves Employee Behavior

The goal of every wellness program is to encourage change in behavior but behavior change is not that easy. However, with the right motivation, skills, social support, education, it is possible. Wellness programs are all about helping employees adopt healthy behaviors and it is one of the major benefits of any wellness program. By adopting healthy behavior there is a reduced risk of chronic diseases which translates to a more productive workforce.

6. Increased Productivity

Productivity decreases when employees are disengaged at work and this could be caused by several factors including stress. Putting in place wellness programs that encourage employees to take some time off can lead to more productivity.

Ensure that every employee works within the stipulated hours so that they can have another life outside the office which increases morale. Employees are more likely to appreciate an employer who cares about their well-being than delivering results at the expense of their health. (Find out more about – how do you motivate staff to improve productivityOpens in a new tab.)

Ways of Promoting Wellness at Work

If your company has no wellness programs in place, it may be about time that you made that happen regardless of the size of the company. Even small companies can create their own wellness programs with the right strategy.

At the end of the day, each and every employee is important from the manger to the interns because whatever they do in their own capacities translates to the overall good of the company. While perks like a good salary and insurance can make employees happy, there are other factors like long hours of work and job-related stress that go unnoticed and may lead to disengaged employees.

Most companies today use financial rewards as well as penalties to encourage their employees to exercise, lose weight and lower their blood sugar and cholesterol. Such programs are being created to lower healthcare costs which are most of the time passed to employees and to increase performance by reducing absenteeism. Here are a few ways you can create a wellness program that helps employees like healthy lives.

1. Motivation

Motivation is a very powerful tool that you can use to encourage your employees to achieve their wellness goals. You can start by creating healthy competition among them as well as across different teams and departments. Encourage teams to work together to achieve certain goals like seeing who can lose the most weight.

Today there are also fitness wearables to help track progress and make it easy to hit performance goals at work. Employers must also do whatever it takes to encourage employees to support the different wellness programs put in place. You can even bring in an expert to provide some insights on the importance of better health within the team setting. According to various studies, we make decisions based on emotions rather than research and as such ensure that you can impact people on a personal level.

2. Encourage Holistic Health

One of the mistakes that most companies make when implementing wellness programs is assuming that employee health is just about one aspect. They forget that it’s not just about their physical health and fitness but all aspects of their lives as well.

Stress, as mentioned, is a silent killer and if it is not dealt with could lead to serious issues like depression and anxiety. As an employer, encourage the managers to check in with employees from time to time individually to assess whether the company is meeting their emotional needs and that they are not overly stressed when at work.

3. Encourage a Healthy Culture

A healthy work culture doesn’t just mean providing gym memberships or adding healthy foods in the cafeteria although this is important. It goes beyond that where morale and productivity are encouraged. A healthy work culture means little company politics and low employee turnover rates.

Employees who feel good about what they do, where they work, who they work for and collaborate with are more likely to accept wellness programs than those who don’t. A healthy work culture promotes better interpersonal relationships and implementation of leadership strategies aimed at encouraging rather than scaring and intimidating employees.  In such a culture, employees will go above and beyond their call of duty to see to the success of the company and are likely to derive happiness from what they do.

4. Multi-level Leadership

Wellness programs usually involve group data about the health of employees which makes it hard for managers to assess individual results and address underlying problems. When you are creating a wellness program, encourage managers to focus on the quality and relevance of the program to an individual rather than a group.

Naturally, those who hold higher positions in the company may refuse to participate in the program may be because they don’t see any value from it or are too busy dealing with other issues. Multi-level leadership is all about everyone including the top ranking officials in the company, leading by example by participating in wellness programs put in place.

5. Review Your Program

A good wellness program should respond to the needs of the employees by including feedback. As such, don’t punish anyone who doesn’t participate in the program but find out the reasons behind their not participating so that you can modify the program such that they can also participate. All the feedback you get from employees will help you change the wellness program to be more engaging and relevant so that it can work for everyone.

Creating an Employee Wellness Program

Since you are already aware of all the benefits of employee programs and what to include to ensure that they work for everyone, the next thing that remains is how to implement a successful wellness program. Here are steps to follow to get the program going at work.

1. Set Beneficial Goals

Creating a wellness program is enjoyable and the mistake that most employers make is losing sight of why the program is necessary in the first place. Ensure that the program you create is beneficial to not only the company but employees as well after all, without them the company wouldn’t exist. And while at it, ensure that the wellness programs don’t just benefit a few members of staff but are holistic for everyone from line managers, supervisors to even interns.

2. Form a Team

Creating a wellness program will take more than a day and will involve a lot of people for it to be successful. As such, create a team that can oversee the creation as well as the implementation of such a program.

3. Plan the Program

When you have a team in place, start planning the program by forming a budget, researching ideas and seeking input from other employees. When you have a plan in place, you can then announce the wellness program to the rest of the employees and give details of what the program involves and why it is being implemented.

4. Get Feedback

A successful program will take a lot including fine-tuning the ideas. Get feedback regularly to determine if the program is working and the changes that need to be made to make it even better.

Related Questions

How do you measure the success of a wellness program? The success of a wellness program will depend on the objectives set in place at the start. How well such objectives have been met, will tell you exactly how successful the program is and if there are aspects that need to be changed.

How does employee wellness benefit a company? Wellness programs have so many benefits like boosting morale, lowering healthcare costs, reducing absenteeism, decreasing the compensation claims of workers, attracting and retaining top talent, and improving productivity which all lead to better profitability of the company.   

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