12 Employee Wellness Program Ideas To Boost Health and Morale

Cassy Aite
June 30, 2024
12 Employee Wellness Program Ideas To Boost Health and Morale

Employee wellness programs have gained widespread popularity over the past two decades. They have been proven to reduce stress, burnout, and absenteeism and vastly improve employees' well-being and health. Today, around 80% of companies with 50 or more employees offer wellness programs.

Don’t let your company's size deter you from offering employee wellness and mental health programs. While employee incentives, insurance, perks, and compensation are important, a well-planned and executed wellness program can provide a competitive edge for small and midsize businesses in terms of retention and attraction of top talent.

But how do you create a program that provides the support and engagement employees crave?

With our employee wellness program ideas, you can put together a program that creates a company culture of health and well-being, increases employee engagement, and stimulates happiness within your organization.

Why You Need To Implement an Employee Wellness Program

Small and midsize businesses may find difficulty justifying an employee wellness program; larger companies may think their current program is effective. But like any other type of employee-related benefit, constant tweaking is necessary to maximize effectiveness.

To understand why fresh employee wellness program ideas are a necessity, you only need to look at the benefits (according to a Harvard Business Review study):

  • On average, every $1 spent on employee wellness programs results in a $6 savings on employee healthcare costs.
  • Sick days and absenteeism can decline up to 80%, saving companies an average of $1.5 million per year on lost productivity.
  • Consistent physical activity as a part of wellness initiatives can lower insurance premiums by up to 50%.
  • Voluntary turnover can fall dramatically — often below 10%.
  • Employees are 40% less likely to suffer from stress, burnout, or depression, leading to improved employee health, job satisfaction, employee morale, and work environment.

The statistics don’t lie. Wellness programs are more than just a perk. It’s a necessity.

12 Engaging and Stimulating Employee Wellness Program Ideas

Woman in home office at a standing desk while kneeling on a balance ball

Whether you have remote employees or an onsite team, implementing an employee wellness program is doable with the right focus. From ingraining healthy behaviors and healthy food choices to encouraging health screenings to in-office fitness, these employee wellness program ideas should provide the creativity to craft your own.

1. Gym Memberships and Fitness Classes

Gym memberships are an oldie but a goodie. They have been a global employee benefit for years. You can always buy a gym membership to an offsite gym, but if you have the space and capital, a gym or fitness classroom keeps your employees onsite and provides unparalleled convenience.

2. Standing Desks

Sitting at a desk all day is part of the job for many office workers, but this sedentary lifestyle comes with a price. Around 16% of workers who sit at a desk for eight hours have an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and even early death.

Standing desks are a viable option to combat these physical health issues. Standing for some period of time reduces the chance of chronic diseases and health risks, provides ergonomic benefits, and limits neck and back pain.

3. Smoking Cessation Programs

Smoking rates among American workers hover between 18% and 30%, even though the numbers have reduced drastically over the past few decades. Nevertheless, the dangers of smoking cannot be understated.

From an employer’s perspective, smoking leads to increased health insurance costs, improved physical wellness, and less dissent among employees for repeated smoke breaks during the workday.

Traditional programs offer nicotine gum, patches, or prescription drugs to alleviate smoking urges. Follow this with an angle on other forms of stress management. Walking, relaxation techniques, and hydration have all been linked to success in smoking cessation.

4. Weight-loss or Fitness Challenge

Weight-loss challenges are one of the hottest team-building activities in the office, perfect for both onsite and remote work employees. During this friendly competition, workers challenge each other to lose weight, albeit safely and over a long enough timeline.

You can also create a fitness challenge, such as doing 100 pushups a day or being able to lift more weight in a certain time period. These wellness challenges encourage healthy habits among employees while instilling a sense of mindfulness and camaraderie.

Offer incentives to the victor or stir up the competition by including a Hoppier gift card to the winner.

5. Compile a Cookbook From Employee Recipes

Notebook on kitchen counter surrounded by vegetables

Healthy eating isn’t ingrained in most individuals. Cost, taste, and misguided assumptions lead people to turn down healthy snacks in favor of fatty or processed foods. To others, the thought of healthy food is alarming — the thought being that healthy foods will taste weird or unfamiliar.

Instead of pushing healthy food initiatives by almost forcing food down their throat, an employee cookbook chalked full of healthy recipes is a fun and engaging alternative for digital teams and onsite employees.

Ask employees to submit their favorite healthy recipes — which should be easy to make — and compile them into a digital or print cookbook. To pique employees' interest in healthy cooking and eating habits, include a gift card for groceries or a small food stipend.

6. Chair Massages

You may see mobile masseuses in Las Vegas or the airport but don’t underestimate the power of a good massage at the office. Hire a masseuse to give chair massages to your staff once a week or once per month. This helps with stress relief in a healthy manner while giving your staff something to look forward to.

7. Walking Meetings

One of the best employee wellness program ideas combines both physical activity and getting work done — the walking meeting. Rather than holding a meeting in a conference room or meeting space, take your team on a walk as you discuss upcoming projects.

8. Flexible Working Hours

Flexible working hours are the cornerstone of work-life balance and happy and healthy employees. Corporate programs aimed at work-life balance have been proven to reduce turnover, improve physical and emotional well-being, and provide a number of other health benefits.

Thanks to a flexible work schedule, employees can take time out of their day to work out, go on a walk, engage in recreational sports, or discover their new favorite physical activity.

9. Start a Sports Team

Company softball team in a huddle

If you want to spark competition and camaraderie while working on physical well-being, one of the best employee wellness program ideas is starting a company sports team. Many leagues welcome company teams to their ranks, and you can poll your staff to see which sport suits them.

You don’t have to pick one of the major sports, like basketball, soccer, or softball. If you want something lighter, kickball, pickleball, and even axe-throwing leagues provide a fun, exciting, and competitive wellness activity.

10. Subscribe to Wellness Apps

Mental well-being in the workplace is every bit as important as the physical aspect. However, implementing a mental well-being workplace wellness program isn’t easy. Many employees are reluctant to discuss their emotional or mental struggles due to the taboo nature.

Instead of mental well-being programs, allow employees to use wellness apps and support them with additional programs when necessary. Prioritize subscriptions to these apps and allow free access for employees.

Some great mental health apps to supplement your employee wellness program ideas include the meditation app Calm or the holistic health app HeadSpace.

11. Onsite Yoga Classes

Many corporate wellness programs now include yoga or pilates classes, and we feel it’s a superb employee wellness program idea for a reason. Yoga has proven mental, emotional, and physical well-being benefits that cascade into a person’s daily life. Hire a yogi to lead your team, or ask for volunteers and enjoy a little namaste.

12. Offer Healthy Snacks

Poor snacking habits are a burden on any employee wellness program. Fortunately, you have a great degree of control over what people eat in the office.

Instead of having a vending machine full of sugary and salty snacks, opt for a fresh bowl of fruit, granola bars, and other healthy options. You can also offer Hoppier gift cards for health food stores so employees can grab their own snacks. By replacing low-nutrition foods with healthy ones, you instill healthy eating habits subconsciously.

Let Your Team Choose Their Own Employee Wellness Program Ideas With Hoppier

Even the most well-planned and articulated employee wellness program may have unforeseen shortcomings. It’s part of the program's creation process. The issue only becomes exacerbated with remote or hybrid teams that aren’t always in the office to participate in the program’s perks.

In these instances, you need an alternative perk or initiative designed to make the program more accessible. Though gift cards don’t seem like a viable option, they actually have the depth and versatility needed to supplement your employee wellness program ideas.

Hoppier offers the ability to send gift cards to recipients in 60+ countries, giving your team members a method to pay for wellness-related items while experiencing a bit of financial wellness at the same time. Employees can use these cards for anything they deem fit — you only need to choose the vendors and the amount.

Hoppier gift card

With these gift cards, your staff can put an emphasis on a healthy lifestyle while your company reaps the benefits of a happy, more productive workforce.

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