As we head into the new year, many companies will take this opportunity to reflect, and look forward to the future. Due to the ongoing uncertainty in the business world and the great resignation, it’s time for HR managers to take care of the staff, and start creating employee wellness programs. Their main goal is to protect the team’s wellbeing and the longevity of the organization as a whole.

We have all been presented with some unique challenges over the past few years, which have undoubtedly put a strain on many people’s professional lives. Now, with many companies favoring a hybrid approach to work in the wake of the pandemic, establishing and maintaining an effective company culture becomes far more important. And yes, more challenging as well.

One key approach to tackling this challenge is to consider implementing a wellness program. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to creating such an initiative, but there are a few key recommended steps that you can take to keep the rollout on track. However you decide to apply the program within your organization, the intended outcome will always be to help employees feel happier and healthier as a result of it. It will ultimately boost employee productivity and benefit the company too.

In this post, we’ll discuss some of the key benefits you can expect from establishing an effective employee wellness program. We will also walk you through the steps to create one yourself from scratch.

Benefits of creating effective wellness programs in the workplace

Creating an employee wellness program is an important step for any business. It can ultimately help to cultivate a happier and healthier work environment. Wellness programs are designed to promote healthy lifestyles among your employees. This is achieved by providing them with access to physical activities, nutritional information, mental health resources, and other tools that can help them take control of their wellbeing.

If your employees are receptive to the program, there are many benefits that could be felt throughout the company. You’re likely to find that an effective employee wellness program will reduce stress. In turn, it will help to prevent the team from suffering from workplace burnout. If your people are fit and healthy (both physically and mentally), this will likely mean that fewer sick days are taken. This will also mean that they’re more engaged when they are at work, which all equates to a more productive workforce.

Implementing such a plan is likely to come at a cost to the company. But these benefits could ultimately help to improve your bottom line going forward, so it’s worth considering the financial implications involved! 

How to create an employee wellness program

Developing a wellness program that’s tailored to your employees lifestyle takes time, and unfortunately won’t be implemented overnight. However, we’re able to break down the steps involved to help you map out how you can capitalize on all the benefits associated with an effective outcome. 

Get to know your employees

You will first need to conduct some research to find out what specifically is important to the team, and what they could reasonably expect from an employee wellness program. At this stage, it can be helpful to use an employee engagement software. These types of tools allow you to deeply get to know your people and gather feedback from what they may wish for on a wellness program. It will also help you monitor the program by sending periodic surveys for them to let you know their satisfaction levels with it.

Communication is a key ingredient to a successful company, and it’s also a pivotal part of developing an effective employee wellness program. Make sure everyone in the team is informed of all the initiatives available, as well as any updates or changes.

What to consider in an employee wellness program

Consider what you’re going to include in the employee wellness program

After conducting the initial research, you’ll have a better idea of what your employees would most like to see included in the program. A few examples include: community volunteering schemes, fitness challenges/initiatives, mental and physical health support, and emotional compensation. At this stage, it’s key to remember to stick to the budget you’ve been given, to avoid making promises you won’t be able to deliver.

To create a successful employee wellness program you need to focus on establishing its structure and desired outcomes at an early stage. It’s also important to ensure you have sufficient resources in order to facilitate multiple teams and track progress over time. You may benefit from partnering with local facilities or organizations in order to obtain additional support for the program if needed.

Get C-level, but also the team’s approval

It’s easy to get carried away when thinking about what you want your ideal program to look like, but ultimately, it’s imperative to get c-level approval in order for the plan to get off the ground. What’s more, having management buy-in will help ensure that you have considered what the team needs and what the company can reasonably offer in your finalized wellness program.

It can be helpful to be transparent about why you’ve chosen the initiatives you have, and why you’ve missed out others. Providing the c-level and managers with this information will offer some context and reasoning for your approach. It will also ensure you’re addressing all the relevant elements.

Monitor your employee wellness program

Roll out and monitor the employee wellness program

Once you’ve decided what to include, it’s time to consider the finer details of the program and roll it out to the team. It’s important to regularly check in on the progress of the program, to ensure it’s continuing to benefit the staff. Make sure you’re open to new ideas and take on board any feedback the team is willing to provide. It’s important to clearly lay out the extent of the program, so none of the team miss out on any crucial information. This will typically be done via an employee handbook.

Lastly, engagement is essential in order for your employee wellness program to work effectively. Use incentives such as special rewards or recognition programs as well as fun activities like team-building exercises to keep your employees motivated.

Examples of employee wellness programs to enhance company culture

Employee wellness programs are becoming increasingly popular in today’s corporate culture due to their many benefits. Not only do they help improve mental health and morale but they can also lead to increased productivity resulting in better bottom lines for businesses. If implemented correctly these programs can have far-reaching effects on staff retention rates, so it is worth dedicating the appropriate time and effort into getting it right.

Here are a few ideas that might give a little inspiration to start creating your own wellness program. Don’t forget! The employee wellness program you create must fit with your team’s lifestyle and needs. Otherwise it won’t have any success.

Smart working

Everyone has a life outside of work, which comes with many responsibilities. Sometimes it is very hard to find the right balance between those obligations you must comply with at work and the ones regarding your personal life.

Smart working will help them achieve that balance. It refers to a new way of working, in which the company gives employees the liberty to choose their work space and schedule, in a way that suits their daily routine better. 

This might not be a benefit that requires a specific budget, but some may think a flexible schedule might affect employee productivity, and the company bottom line as well. The fact is that flexible working has quite the opposite effect on employees. According to the Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey, 43% of respondents said that flexibility in working hours helped them achieve greater productivity. 

Build a fitness community

Exercise is well known for producing endorphins and making people feel happier about themselves. So, you might want to include in your employee wellness program some initiatives to promote to exercise among the team. 

For example, you can offer a discount card on a gym membership or sports store. But if you want to go deeper, you can try to build a fitness community in your company. Some people may need that extra push to go and move their bodies. If they find a partner at work for a run, hiking or to a paddle game, they will feel more eager to go for it! You can create channels in slack where people who like the same sports connect. It will also build closer relationships between employees.

Carpooling program

For many people getting to the office is not an easy and short ride. They have to take a bike while it is pouring outside, or take a 50 minute metro ride to get to work. 

If you give it a further thought, for those who have a car parking is a huge headache. You need luck to easily find a parking spot in minutes. Also, parking can cost you a few bucks. 

That is why carpooling is a great solution for everyone and it also helps the environment! People who need a ride, need to be connected with those who have space in their cars, and live nearby. Also, even if they have a car too, by coming to work on the same ride will reduce the number of vehicles at the office, making it easier to park.

Education as part of a employee wellness program

Education programs to promote employee development

Including a career development plan in your employee wellness plan will boost employee development and build a high performance culture.

If you can afford it, offer scholarships and send them to university to get a master’s or foundation degree.

And if not, don’t fret! A positive education program can also focus on your people’s skills and offer upskilling courses and training. We recommend running an employee survey so you know exactly what your team would like, and then you can start planning!

Flexible remuneration

Flexible remuneration refers to paying part of the employee salary in kind or in products. Why would they want this? It will decrease the tax income.

If it is possible for your company, you can pay part of the salary on expenses you know employees must incur, like childcare, transport, gas, groceries or restaurants. Nowadays there are a lot of startups that make it easier for companies to offer these types of benefits to their employees.

In order to offer the right flexible remuneration for your employees, ask them! Running a survey is a great idea here as well.

The right employee wellness program for your team

Yes, building an effective employee wellness program requires a lot of thinking, time and a budget. But the most important thing you must take into consideration is your people. 

You must create the program thinking about What do the people that work at my company like? Do they have hobbies? Kids? The more you know them, the easier it will be for you to include the right benefits in your employee wellness program. And you know that a satisfied team brings great benefits to the company!