Employee wellness is sometimes thought of as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have — something you worry about when you already have all your other ducks in a row.
But the reality is that if you put off employee wellness initiatives until you’re “big enough” or “ready for them,” it will already be too late.
That’s because employee wellness and employee performance are linked. A culture of wellness actually drives results by helping to create an engaged workforce.
The connection between engagement and performance is well-established. Engaged teams have been shown to outperform competitors in categories like productivity, profit, and employee retention.
But not all employee wellness initiatives are equally effective. While there’s a seemingly endless supply of employee wellness ideas, there are far fewer good employee wellness ideas. These are initiatives that not only have been proven to work, but that your team will also want to participate in.
Remember, a well-intention-ed wellness idea with zero participation is a waste of everyone’s time — and your company’s money.
So here are 10 employee wellness ideas that will get your team members excited, make a positive impact on their health, and help you develop a more engaged team.
1. Provide Healthy Office Snacks
We are increasingly a snacking culture. According to recent data, 91 percent of people snack multiple times a day.
Unfortunately, most employers offer traditional, low-quality vending machine fare: candy, soda, and other snacks loaded with sugar, saturated fat, and chemicals. These are snacks that not only derail productivity with energy crashes, but that will also seriously impact employee health in the long run.
So what better way to impact your team’s overall nutrition — and, therefore, wellness — than by providing easy access to healthier snack choices throughout the workday?
2. Launch a Step Competition
A little healthy competition can be just what your team needs to help make exercise a daily practice. Hand out gift cards for the most consecutive gym sessions logged or yoga classes attended. Better yet, provide employees with wearable fitness trackers to launch a group walking challenge.
Because your team likely consists of people with varying ages and fitness levels, the key is to create both individual and team goals to keep everyone motivated.
3. Practice Gratitude
Remember that wellness isn’t just about physical well-being; it’s about your team’s mental health, too. The daily practice of being grateful has been found to ease depression, curb appetite, and enhance nighttime sleep.
Try this at your company: Create a shared doc where team members across the organization record one thing for which they are grateful every day. Challenge your team to do it for three weeks straight. At the end of the three weeks, have your team reflect on their mood and productivity.
4. Sponsor Guided Meditation
Stress is the silent killer lurking in your office. Researchers found that stressful jobs might lower one’s life expectancy.
The good news? Meditation and other mindfulness techniques have been shown to help reduce stress.
Popular meditation app Headspace has enterprise pricing, enabling your entire office to benefit.
5. Host a Cooking Class
One easy and fun way to increase your team’s understanding of nutrition is to host a cooking class after work. When it comes to food, abstract concepts and nutritional facts are never as convincing as a delicious meal made by hand.
6. Bring the Outdoors Inside
Multiple studies have shown that access to nature can relieve stress, increase sociability, make us more active, and even help soothe mental illness.
Mere proximity to green space can even have a positive impact, and potted plants in offices have been shown to do everything from lowering blood pressure to boosting job satisfaction.
Schaduf helps companies bring the outdoors inside with its lush vertical gardens.
7. Host an Anxiety Workshop
For too long, the stigma around mental health has left victims to suffer in silence. The best way to alleviate the stigma surrounding mental health issues is simply to talk about them.
Try hosting a workshop on the most common mental health disorder, anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety is exceedingly common. Approximately 40 million adults suffer from anxiety in the U.S., and nearly half of those who experience depression also manage anxiety.
8. Host a Comedy Show
It turns out that old saying is true: Laughter is the best medicine. Laughing really does carry a laundry list of health benefits, including increased immune function, better mood, relaxation, and longevity.
Bring in local comedians (there might be one or two at your office) for a comedy night, or treat the office to a night at a local improve theater to unlock the hidden health benefits of laughter.
Finally, remember that it isn’t enough to deploy one of these ideas once. Wellness can’t be a campaign; it has to be ingrained in your culture. To reap the full benefits, use these ideas to lay the foundation for an ongoing wellness culture at your organization.