Let’s face it – we spend the majority of our waking lives at work.
For most of us, our lives are made up mostly of work.
Companies are learning that acknowledging – rather than denying – this fact is not just the right thing to do, but also a sound business decision.
Speaking of sound business decisions, one way businesses are making sure they are taking care of their employees is by seeing if they qualify for the Employee Retention Credit. It’s a simple 60-second online qualification process, and some businesses are reaping 7-figure awards.
In a recent interview, Life is Good founder Bert Jacobs emphasized that focusing on things like employee wellbeing has an often under-acknowledged business benefit for organizations.
According to Jacobs, focusing on employee wellbeing and purpose is “a smart strategy for building a strong business….The organization only hurts themselves if they’re not working in the best interest of everybody at their organization.”
Why is this the case? Employee wellbeing is linked to employee engagement and productivity, and your organization becomes stronger across the board when you make it a priority.
Take your appreciation efforts to the next level by managing them through an employee recognition and engagement platform like Bonusly.
Your company isn’t the product you make, your intellectual property, your patents, or even the customers you serve. First and foremost, your company is your people. (Literally. The word “company” comes from the military, and simply refers to a body of soldiers.)
Before we get to brass tacks, first a quick note on what we mean by employee wellbeing:
“Employee happiness,” “employee engagement,” and “employee wellbeing” are terms that are often thrown around interchangeably. While they’re all related, they mean different things and imply different strategies.
What’s the difference?
Specifically, employee wellbeing is about how your job – your duties, expectations, stress level, and environment – affects your overall health and happiness.
And while it certainly includes things like exercise and nutrition, well-being isn’t just about physical health. It’s about mood and cognition, and less tangible factors like a sense of purpose. Above all, it’s about understanding your employees from a holistic perspective, taking into account the totality of their lives, and considering their overall quality of life.
Easier said than done, we know. But we’re here to help.
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Here are 27 proven and powerful ways to boost employee wellbeing at your company.
Once you’ve gone through our list, check out The Assist to discover more ways to boost employee wellbeing and create a thriving culture at work:
“One thing The Assist has helped me immensely with is keeping our company culture alive during this new shift to remote work. It is important for us to have a team who is happy and healthy and The Assist has provided tons of options to help make that possible for our team.” Julie P., The Assist subscriber
Who Would You Like To Give Gifts To?
1. Make Recognition and Praise Part of Your Company’s Culture.
One of the most desired – and easiest to implement – wellbeing initiatives is simply to recognize employees for their effort and achievements. A recent survey shows that 70% of employees say recognition makes them feel emotionally connected to peers while another 70% say recognition makes them happier at home. The impact of a recognition-rich culture cannot be understated.
Nectar makes it really easy to build recognition and praise into your company’s culture to create a positive work environment. With Nectar, all employees are empowered to give recognition, increasing the frequency and stickiness of praise throughout your organization.
This is especially effective for Millennial employees, who are accustomed to receiving praise from a very young age. Being part of the so-called “self-esteem generation,” they often crave recognition more than a pay raise.
A handwritten thank you note, or formal recognition program – like Nectar, for example – all go a long way towards creating a positive emotional environment that supports wellbeing.
Or you could do a “Crush It Call”. Here’s how we do them at SnackNation HQ:
2. Throw Down Fitness Challenges.
Fitness challenges are one of the best ways to kickstart your company’s wellbeing into gear.
Why are they so effective? Fitness challenges unlock the spirit of fun and friendly competition. Peer involvement will encourage greater participation, and inspire your team to push themselves further than they would on their own.
Here at SnackNation, we recently launched the “Walk it Out” step challenge, during which the entire org received Jawbone fitness trackers, and logged our steps daily – you can also use a recognition platform like Bonusly to build custom fitness challenges.
The goal was to “walk” from LA to San Francisco as a team over the course of 4 weeks – that is, log the 772,000 steps between LA and the city by the bay.
In addition to the team goal, prizes were awarded for individual step leaders after each week. It was that combination of shared and individual goals that held the key to the program’s success. Our team felt a sense of togetherness and esprit de corps as we strove for common goals, and celebrated individual leaders throughout the week.
Fitness challenges don’t cost much to launch (fitness trackers are great, but definitely not required), and provide outsized benefits to your organization, fostering both team building and overall wellbeing.
3. Recognize your top talent with gifts that inspire wellbeing & connection.
While employee wellbeing during business hours is vitally important to the health of your company, you might be losing out on an opportunity to help staff recharge, relax, and experience new things.
With experiential gifts, you can reward an employee with a chance to check something off their bucket list with a customized experience.
While the productivity gains we’ve received through remote and hybrid work may be benefiting the bottom line, the downside is that they’re masking a workforce on the verge of burnout. Why not recognize your employees’ achievements with rewards and gifts that support their wellbeing?
Blueboard is an experience-based rewards tool that offers employee wellbeing gifts designed to rejuvenate, reconnect, and inspire. Imagine offering your employees their choice of a kayaking trip for two, a pottery class, a month at their favorite yoga studio, or a VIP museum experience with the family.
With Blueboard wellbeing gifts, employees are empowered to celebrate with experiences that challenge their comfort zone, introduce them to a new hobby, or that offer connection and quality time with their loved ones. weekend treats to better help fight employee burnout, recognize their wins, and support better work/life balance. Here are some ideas for employees to fill their special weekend:
- ⛳️ Golf round at a local course they’ve been wanting to try
- ⛱ Weekend vacation at a resort
- 🚁 A helicopter your through the city
- 🌍 A zero-gravity float therapy session
Check out the Blueboard catalog to learn more about this wellbeing idea and how impactful it can be for your employees who work so hard!
4. Launch an Employee Wellbeing Survey.
To harness the collective power of your employees effectively, it becomes pretty clear that getting their input can save you a lot of time and energy.
👉 Get Your Free Employee Wellbeing Survey
When creating and building your employee wellbeing program, wellness surveys can help make sure your strategies are tailored to your team, are fun and engaging, and are optimized to provide long-term value, both for employees and your business.
5. Plan a Mental Health Awareness Month Activity.
To celebrate Mental Health Awareness in May, you can work with your team members to organize a guided activity that encourages employees to relax, refocus, and destress. We know that your team works hard, so taking a moment to enjoy each other’s company without chatting about spreadsheets and deadlines, can make a huge difference.
The Tea & Mindfulness Experience from Unboxed Experiences takes guests on relaxing tea tastings and meditation exercises. These branded tea tasting and wellness kits can be sent to employees’ homes or to the office for your team to use during the activity.
Plus, Tea has powerful anti-anxiety effects that can help reduce stress, improve moods, and induce relaxation.
One last thing! Unboxed Experiences supports causes that promote mental health by donating fees from its Tea & Mindfulness Experience to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a leading nonprofit advocacy group for individuals affected by mental illness.
6. Create A Monthly Virtual Wellness Event Program.
Is your team distributed or working remotely? Try this!
Want to do something truly transformative for your employees? Why not bring in world-leading experts in Stress, Mental Health, Burnout, Sleep, Nutrition and more every month to teach them powerful tips? It doesn’t have to be time-consuming if you work with Wellable, the world leader in live-taught virtual wellness experiences for teams!
Wellable has perfected expert-led, private wellness-focused experiences for teams that give employees valuable lessons and resources to feel better. Their monthly event series see as high as 90% engagement! All your team has to do is show up to the session on their calendar, and the Wellable team will take care of the rest!
To get started, book a free consultation with the Wellable team to learn more about their offerings and why over 5,000 companies are choosing Wellable for all of their wellbeing needs!
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7. Show You Care with Caroo.
Looking for a beautifully simple way to boost employee wellness? Try premium care packages that show your team how much you care.
Caroo makes it easy to add your own personal touch to their expertly curated premium gifts, ensuring your employees get gift boxes that make them feel cared for and also inspired. Receiving items they love along with messages of caring will nurture the social and emotional dimensions of your employees’ wellness.
8. Take on mental wellness with shared laughter.
Your employees want to feel seen and heard, and Laughter On Call has the solution.
The team at Laughter On Call is passionate about creating connections through shared laughter. With their roots in mental wellness, their diverse team of compassionate comedians lead inclusive, and highly interactive sessions – whether virtual or in-person – that deliver comic relief and engage even the most introverted on your team. Learn more here.
9. Invest in Affordable Weekly Virtual Employee Wellbeing.
What would your team do if they could come together weekly for live-taught Meditation, Yoga, Fitness, team-building and other wellness classes taught by experts? They’d thrive. Practicing mindfulness is associated with several facets of overall well-being, including reduced stress, enhanced relationships, and stronger focus.
At SnackNation, we perform an employee-led guided meditation session every Wednesday at 2 pm. Our resident meditation expert, Spencer Carlson, studied the practice in India, and helps our team become more mindful and present.
Like mindfulness, guided meditation offers almost too many benefits to list. They include things like better sleep, improved metabolism and weight loss, reduced stress and aging, and improved mood and cognition.
So why not give your employees the chance to build a sustainable, long-term wellness practice with regular live-taught Movement, Mindset, Purpose, Nutrition and other wellness sessions led by world-class experts.
10. Break Out In an Impromptu Dance Competition.
This idea comes from the awesome folks at Sonic Boom wellness, based in Carlsbad, CA:
“Sitting at a desk for an entire eight-hour shift (or longer) can take its toll on our physical and mental wellbeing. As one of the many creative ways we help keep Sonic Boom employees engaged while at work, our Co-founders suggested that we participate in random two-minute dance parties – an idea borrowed from the popular Ellen daytime talk show.
When the music starts playing in our colorful Think Tank, Boomers are encouraged to stop what they’re doing, get up from their computers, and let loose with some sweet dance moves. Not only do we get our blood flowing, we also experience a healthy mental release by dancin’ like we just don’t care (and building some special camaraderie with our coworkers in the process).
A bit silly? Of course. But is everyone smiling at the end? You betcha.”
11. Empower Wellness with Swag.
Wellness doesn’t have to be out of reach when you have the right tools. Employees have the motivation to be well, but sometimes, they just need a little boost toward their goals.
Give them the support they need with branded wellness gifts from Swag.com. Not only does this swag help boost employees’ wellness game, but it will also show them appreciation while encouraging loyalty.
Get inspiration for your feel-good giveaways by checking out these wellness offerings from Swag.com:
12. Give Employees The Tools to Discover Their Purpose.
Jenn Lim, the CEO and Chief Happiness Officer at Delivering Happiness – a company she co-founded with Zappos’ Tony Hsieh to help companies unlock the business potential of happiness – is a huge proponent of purpose-driven cultures.
Lim and DH take a scientific look at happiness, drawing on positive psychology to determine how companies can optimize their cultures. One of the primary insights they found is that a sense of purpose is key to creating a sustainable culture of happiness and wellbeing.
According to the team’s research, there are three levels of happiness:
- pleasure – a fleeting form of happiness
- passion – a more sustained form of happiness that continues to deliver as long as you are performing the activity about which you are passionate
- purpose – the highest level, which permeates your daily life with happiness and energy
Under this rubric, the best thing you can do for employee wellbeing is to infuse your culture with a sense of purpose.
How is this done?
Chris Cutter, CEO of LifeDojo wellbeing, says,
“We believe that when you put genuine employee engagement first, permanent positive health habits follow.” So what makes “genuine” engagement in wellbeing? According to LifeDojo, a few things:
First, focus on your employees’ intrinsic motivation (everyone has very specific, individual goals and reasons for working on their own health).
Second, foster a sense of ownership by encouraging employees to personalize what health and wellbeing habits they’ll work on as part of your wellness initiatives.
Third, offer a coach who can treat employees not as problems to be solved, but as human beings to empower. Finally, give employees the opportunity to be champions of the program, encouraging your team to grow interest in new initiatives from the bottom up…instead of imposing new programs from the top down.
Engagement has an incredible impact on your company culture. When an employee sees wellbeing as a perk instead of something they ‘have to do,’ you start to see job satisfaction, productivity and appreciation skyrocket.”
(For more on the power of purpose, check out our Ultimate List of Employee Engagement Ideas)
13. Encourage Employees to Develop Friendships.
It should come as no surprise that building lasting friendships can be one of the most fulfilling aspects of our lives. And one of the best wellness strategies you can foster.
However, you may be interested to learn that recent research proves that when working in a team, friends outperform strangers.
Ohio State researchers compared the results of 26 different studies and concluded that friends coordinate tasks more effectively because they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that can break up work in the most effective way.
Robert Lount, a co-author of the study and associate professor at Ohio State’s business school, notes, “Working with friends is not just something that makes us feel good – it can actually produce better results.”
Employee engagement is at an all-time low and one way to encourage employees to care more about their job–encourage them to foster friendships.
Feeling safe, supported and appreciated at work can go a long way to improve performance and productivity but social interactions also release oxytocin, referred to as the love drug.
According to MindBodyGreen, humans are social beings and our brains have evolved to ensure our survival which means that they operate best when we interact and connect with others. Social exchanges can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression while increasing feelings of happiness and calm.
Oxytocin also calms “the fear center of the brain, and strengthens its communications with brain circuits that help you control emotions.”
When you boil it down, having friends at work helps you be better at your job by improving communication and collaboration, and perhaps more importantly, it leads to a happier life overall.
Here a couple simple ideas to facilitate connections for your employees:
- Implement a new hire buddy system
- Allow co-workers to take their full lunch break
- Encourage team traditions and rituals
- Start an office-wide Slack channel dedicated to sharing personal interests
- Consider having a yearly offsite
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14. Get Some Steps in During Your Meetings.
Want another way to help your team “hack” their way to improved health? Hold your next meeting on foot.
Walking meetings are a great way to add a little movement and exercise into your schedule, without sacrificing productivity.
In fact, you’re more likely to enhance your productivity.
Take your business meetings a step further – with a walking meeting. It works for me: http://t.co/laCOwqQ57D pic.twitter.com/dyIyi07i8y
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) April 6, 2015
The benefits of ditching stuffy conference rooms for meetings on-the-go are plentiful: the added blood flow and shifting environment will enhance focus and spur creativity.
Think we’re making this up? Some of the greatest thinkers in history – including Steve Jobs, Harry S. Truman, and even Aristotle – swore by walking meetings.
El Segundo, California-based skincare brand Murad came up with an ingenious way to encourage walking meetings. They painted a walking track in their new, 45,000 global headquarters. The track, which snakes through and around the floor of their offices, enables employees to stretch their legs and discuss work on the fly.
Lisa Sterling, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at human capital management technology company Ceridian, offers another cool idea:
“Several Ceridian offices have installed treadmill workstations for employees to walk while on conference calls, web meetings or working on their laptops. It’s a way to encourage our people to keep moving during the day and is actively embraced by our people.”
15. Institute Flexible Work Hours for Improved Work/Life Balance.
As we mentioned in the beginning, workplace wellness isn’t just about physical health. It’s about one’s overall quality of life.
Our lives are multi-faceted. Work is important, but there are so many other things outside of work that give our lives meaning and purpose – things like family, faith, community, and hobbies.
It goes without saying that these things require our time and energy. More often than not, work obligations get in the way, and our wellbeing suffers as a result.
Allowing for flexible working hours does two things. It empowers employees to alter their work habits to fit their family needs or to keep working on the projects that give their lives additional meaning. This results in a more healthy work-life balance that benefits everyone.
Perhaps more importantly, it sends a signal that you trust your employees. When you enable employees to set their own schedules as long as they hit deadlines and deliver results, they feel more like partners than corporate drones – and they’ll work that much harder for you.
16. Fight The Harmful Effects of Sedentary Lifestyles with Standing Desks.
Do you know that sitting is the new smoking?
It’s true. Sedentariness represents a grave threat to the health of millions of American office workers.
Don’t take it from us. According to the New York Times, “It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in cars, office chairs, or on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death.”
One way to offset the dangers of sitting too much is by… standing. Sitting is one of the most passive things you can do. By standing while you work, your body will burn energy as your leg, core, and back muscles tense to balance.
Many employers are put off by the cost of replacing existing desks with expensive standing ones.
Fortunately, Oristand has solved that problem with their totally functional, totally affordable cardboard standing desks. This simple yet sturdy design is only $25, and is used by more than 20,000 professionals across the world to decrease sedentariness and increase wellbeing.
Here’s what Mike Travers, Senior Benefits Consultant at full-service HR provider TriNet, has to say about the benefits of standing desks:
“Standing desks are great for when you’re stuck in a long meeting, for instance, as they may help you not to fall asleep. Studies show that when you stand up, your body remains active and you reap the benefits of the extra metabolic functioning that can help reduce your chances of diabetes and heart disease. Just think of the cost savings as well!
Some of those sit down chairs are very expensive. If you have a phone job, you often project better over the telephone from a standing position rather than slouched in a chair. There is also evidence that the more you sit, the greater your mortality risk! For me, that says it all.”
Bonus: Focus on Personal Development.
No one wants a dead-end job.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Your employees – especially the younger folks in the group – crave progress. They need to feel like they are on a path that leads somewhere.
One way to ensure that your employees are learning and growing is by aiding their personal and professional development.
At SnackNation, we do this in a few ways. We have a personal development library, where all employees are encouraged to borrow books from an array of personal development titles.
We also have every employee complete IDPs – individual development plans. Employees develop goals and then work with managers to develop a path to achieving those goals. Monthly check-ins assure accountability.
Finally, we hold weekly “Sensei Sessions.” These are hour-long personal and professional development sessions led by senior leadership. It’s a great way to inspire your team and share knowledge and experience.
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17. Allow Remote Days to Renew Focus and Remove Distractions.
Sometimes, you just need to change things up.
If it’s feasible, allow your employees to work from home or from an offsite location (like a coffee shop, park, or the beach) one day a week. Doing so allows for greater focus, and a change of scenery can inspire new ideas.
Additionally, this flexibility sends a signal that you trust your employees to be self-directed, and will result in greater emotional wellbeing and engagement.
We asked Erin McGinty, Director of Benefits Consulting at TriNet, to share her thoughts on why remote workdays can improve work-life balance for your team:
“One remote workday keeps the doctor away! Have you considered allowing your employees to work from home one day a week? Having this level of flexibility to be home to let the repair person in or to be there for that one day a week the kids have an early soccer game can help reduce stress on your employee and offer work-life harmony!
People who get to work at home on occasion are not only happier, they are less likely to resign and can also be more productive (think way less distractions from water cooler talk and avoiding that commute)!”
18. Encourage Bike to Work Days.
Biking to work is a great way to kill two birds with one stone – that is, knock out your commute and your exercise at the same time.
Plus, biking to work saves the planet… and gas money. It’s a win-win-win.
Need help convincing your company that biking is a viable option? Don’t go it alone. Enlist the help of The League of American Bicyclists, who raise awareness for National Bike to Work month, week, and day every May.
According to The League, 40% of most trips in the U.S. are two miles are less, making biking a viable transportation option in most instances. And while commutes are often a bit longer on average, you can combine public transit with cycling to make biking to work a reality. In fact, most major cities offer free rides for cyclists on public transportation during bike to work week.
You can also throw in some gamification here to add an extra layer of fun. My Virtual Mission allows you to create a long distance route from one location to another (i.e. Chicago to New York). See who can bike to the “finish line” first.
19. Extend Trust by Offering Unlimited Vacation.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Companies like GE, Netflix, Hubspot, and yes, SnackNation, are just a few who are hopping on the unlimited vacation trend.
If you answer emails after work, you should be getting unlimited vacation https://t.co/IgyQtc87vq
— Quartz (@qz)
Now, before you dismiss this outright, unlimited vacation doesn’t mean employees are free to collect a paycheck while they relax on a Mexican beach for six months out of the year.
In practice, unlimited vacation connects time off with results. The policy states that as long as you meet your deadlines, goals, and deliver results, you are free to take as much vacation as you want.
Unlimited vacation works because in emphasizing results, you again demonstrate that you trust your employees to do the right thing by their company and teams. Employees appreciate being treated like adults and are inspired to deliver outsized results in order to justify a little extra R&R.
It’s a win-win for the company and employee alike and results in a boosted sense of employee wellbeing.
20. Grant Sabbaticals to Celebrate Individuals and Reduce Burnout.
Sabbaticals work like this: after an employee reaches a certain tenure – usually 3-5 years at a company – he or she is eligible to take 6-8 weeks off to go on a trip, or work on a passion project or perform a public service at home. (The only thing that is off limits is sitting at home doing nothing!)
The idea is to embark on a journey that will be personally enriching, and that will yield new perspectives, new ideas, and new learnings that he or she can bring back to the company. The sabbatical will also help to prevent burnout for your employees that you value as important contributors when they return.
And before you assume 6-8 weeks is too long to be away from one’s job, consider that after 5 years, that represents a very small fraction of one’s total time at a company.
21. Give Unlimited Paternity/Maternity Leave.
Netflix made headlines this year when they announced they were offering unlimited paternity/maternity leave. Employees are free to take as much time in the first year after a child is born or adopted.
Compare this to existing federal law, which guarantees up to 12 weeks of parental leave, but only for companies with fifty or more employees.
The benefit here again is that it signals to your employees that you understand that their lives outside of work – particularly their family lives – are important.
This emotional connection helps to contribute to an overall greater sense of employee wellbeing.
Bonus: Incentivize Employees to Practice Gratitude.
Studies show that gratitude is positively correlated with happiness, stronger relationships, and overall better mental wellbeing. Fond helps you make expressing gratitude an integrated cultural norm at your company by making the process of peer-to-peer recognition as easy as possible.
The benefits of having peers express gratitude for one another works in two directions.
On the one hand, encouraging employees to call out their colleagues for good behavior puts them on the lookout for wins — it quite literally primes their attention to focus on the positive. As you can imagine, this mindset shift can be transformational in terms of instilling a winners’ attitude in your team.
At the same time, when employees are on the receiving end of employee recognition through Fond, it’s a fantastic feeling. Knowing that your peers see and appreciate your hard work is great, and being rewarded for it doesn’t hurt either.
Fond makes employee recognition easy, which paves the way for it to become a habit. With gratitude as a defining value of your organizational culture, you’re well-equipped to provide employees with the kind of supportive, uplifting work environment that they need to thrive.
22. The “Undercover Boss” Competition.
This fun idea also comes from the good people over at Sonic Boom:
“Ever dreamed of giving your boss a big ol’ pie to the face? Those dreams become reality for the Boomers at Sonic Boom Wellness during our “Undercover Boss” competitions.
With Undercover Boss, everyone participates under a secret identity – so no one knows who’s topping the leaderboards until the very end. And the reward for out-striding your boss during this three-week activity contest? Catapulting a whipped-cream-loaded pie straight into her/his face.
But beware! Your ‘punishment’ for being out-strided? The winning bosses get to randomly draw the name of a losing employee, and send that big-ol’ pie flying into their face.
In the most recent contest, our amazingly active accountant, Matt, out-strided our President, Bryan. The photo speaks for itself…”
23. Take the Vegan Challenge.
Eating vegan is not only compassionate but promotes healthy and mindful eating. The practice forces you to consider everything you put in your body and virtually eliminates mindless consumption.
Your team will be eating lighter, more nutritious foods, and will be properly fueled to take on challenges and perform at their peak.
Challenge your team to eat vegan for a week. Not only will your team be more focused and productive, you might be surprised by how many people stick with it.
If a week sounds like a stretch, start with 1 day and then keep extending the challenge timeline. If you want to take it up a notch, you can even try growing your own worksite garden. TotalWellness president Alan Kohll tells us:
“A worksite garden is an excellent opportunity to address a number of healthy habits. Gardens can help build fresh ideas, energy, teamwork, company morale, workplace relationships and friendships. It can also help you promote engagement in wellness activities by supplying healthy food for employees and physical activity breaks to work in the garden.
At our headquarters in Omaha, we have 15-beds filled with kale, carrots, peppers, squash, cucumbers and much more! The garden provides a means of physical activity and stress reduction, plus it increases access to fresh produce to our employees.”
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Bonus: Incentivize Preventative Care, Like Flu-Shots.
While this may not be the “sexiest” item on this list, one of the best ways to improve overall health in the office is to address potential illnesses before they happen.
Case in point? The flu.
Cold and flu season can decimate your office. Flu viruses spread during the winter months, and take hold when cold weather weakens our immune systems.
In total, cold and flu season costs our economy an estimated $40 billion every year in lost productivity due to illness.
One way to curb these losses? Incentivize flu shots. Offer a small cash bonus, gift card, or giveaway (like a stress ball, t-shirt, or mug) for employees who get the shot in October or November. Your company will more than cover their losses by avoiding mass absenteeism.
24. Urge Sick Employees to Stay Home.
While we’re on the topic of cold and flu season, let’s talk about another form of preventative care that is a lot easier than getting the flu shot…
Coming into work when you are sick seems to be popular these days.
The truth is, we all having demanding jobs and high expectations of ourselves. But when it comes to wellbeing and health, we take shortcuts.
Haven’t we all had the thought, “If I stay home sick today, will I jeopardize my opportunity to get that promotion?”
However, when you come to work sick, you not only prolong your recovery period, you also expose your coworkers to your bug.
An article in The New York Times, “If You’re Sick, Stay Away From Work“, explains that coming to work with the flu “can be deadly for others, especially pregnant women, young children and older people. And no matter how many precautions you take, there’s no way to eliminate the risk to people around you.”
It may seem small, but we’ve all had the experience of not being able to shake that lingering head cold for two weeks, sometimes more.
It’s pretty hard to focus when you have to stop to blow your nose every 15 minutes or spend all afternoon asking around for cold medicine. No one is going to become employee of the month while pushing themselves through an illness. It is okay to be sick, but much better to be sick at home.
As an effective leader and culture carrier, it’s your responsibility to communicate that getting sick is not a sign of weakness and that it’s okay to work from home or take a day or two to fully recover.
What could be more important to the wellbeing of your employees than their health? It’s worth the OOO time.
25. Let Employees Set Their Own Goals and Work Strategies.
Most positions within your company probably come along with a detailed job description and a set of priority goals. Knowing how those pre-set goals advance the company mission will probably motivate employees to do their best work, but employees might feel even more motivated—and even more fulfilled—at work if you let them set some of their own goals and come up with their own strategies for fulfilling established objectives.
According to research from the University of Birmingham, Business School, high levels of workplace autonomy correlate with feelings of wellbeing and satisfaction. While workplace autonomy covers a range of factors besides setting goals, giving employees the freedom to creatively contribute is a solid wellbeing choice for companies who don’t have the option to offer things like flexible work hours.
To give employees more autonomy without the risk of undermining core company goals, create a structured plan for employee goal setting to ensure everyone gets something out of the process. Layout company-wide strategic objectives for your team members, but let them create their own plans for achieving those goals.
26. Set Up Volunteer Programs and Volunteering Days.
It can seem like the last thing anyone has time for in a busy workplace is volunteering. But as challenging as volunteering can be, the rewards far outweigh any potential downside. Volunteering benefits the mind, the community, and even the body. And we’re not just talking about vague warm fuzzy feelings; many studies have found scientific evidence that volunteering has psychological and physiological benefits. A range of studies incorporating a range of methods and focus areas suggest that:
- Volunteering is positively correlated with self-reported health.
- Volunteering enhances several critical aspects of personal wellbeing, including happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health, and overcoming depression.
- Volunteering could lower baseline depression. (And since the best estimates from the World Health Organization say over 300 million people suffer from depression, some of your employees may be suffering in silence.)
- Volunteering might boost physical mobility, stamina, and flexibility.
By offering free days for volunteering and planning group volunteering activities, you’ll be giving employee wellbeing levels a major boost.
27. Renovate Your Office to Bring in More Natural Light.
Overhauling your office to let in a little more sunlight might seem like a frivolous endeavor, but a study from the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago (reported by Psychology Today) suggests it will pay off in the long run—in the form of increased employee wellbeing, happiness, and even job performance.
The study found that exposure to natural light affects workers’ quality of life, vitality, daytime function, and sleep. Researchers believe natural light influences so many aspects of our lives because it is the main cue guiding our circadian rhythms, our 24/7 natural clocks, sometimes called our sleep/wake cycles.
Employees feel the desire for natural light on a conscious level as well. According to a Leesman employee experience survey, 73.9% of employees find natural light important.
Here are some simple ways to bring more natural light into your office if you don’t have the budget for a complete overhaul:
- Add mirrors to reflect the natural light you already get.
- Use transparent or semitransparent partitions instead of solid ones.
- Replace solid doors and cubicle walls with transparent or semitransparent ones.
- Remove any large objects obstructing light coming in from windows. You can shift desks, bookshelves, and filing cabinets—anything that’s stopping natural light.
- Redistribute office space to seat several employees (instead of just one executive) in an office with a window.
- Create an office snack station to promote healthy eating
Bonus: Promote Mental Health Awareness and Counseling.
As we mentioned earlier, the best estimates from the World Health Organization say over 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It’s fairly safe to guess that in almost any workplace, you’ll find at least a few employees who suffer from depression or depressive episodes. People often let depression go untreated because of social taboos, lack of understanding, and unfamiliarity with treatment options.
Among other problems, depression wreaks havoc on a person’s sense of wellness, engagement with the world, and motivation at work. However, if treatment options were better broadcast and more readily available, many people who need help might just take the plunge.
Your company can join the fight against depression by offering mental health awareness programs and counseling or simply promoting the options available from your healthcare provider. Work with Human Resources to invite a representative from your insurance company to give a talk about mental health options and go from there. Even a small mention of mental health options on the monthly company newsletter could be just the boost someone needs to seek help.
What about you? What are the benefits of employee wellbeing in your eyes, and what do your companies do to ensure that wellbeing is a priority? Let us know in the comments below!
Thank you for all the useful and really practical suggestions. Some of them are so easy to get started on.
Awesome Article! I especially liked the working remotely , as I know many of my architects, would prefer at least one day a month working remotely.
I printed out this page so that I will remember all of the great ideas listed. I want to push for the unlimited vacation days!!!
These are a great list of ideas! I’ve noticed that the president of our company goes on walks when he takes long business calls. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Great article!
Thank you for these ideas! I love all of these for getting active and unlimited vacation days! Awesome Article.
We made a slack channel specifically for people with fitbits to connect and compete. It has also encouraged a couple of other coworkers to buy their own fitbits to get in on the step action!
I like the flexible work hours idea. It allows for a great work/ personal life balance
These are great ideas. I’ve been wanting a standing desk for some time, and the Oristand option is so reasonable, I might just buy one for myself!
Interesting ideas, thank you!
You’re very welcome, Stacey! Glad you enjoyed the piece!
We just recently got standing desks in our office and I love it!
Great to hear! Lots of our team is using them too, with rave reviews.
Very interesting! We’ve thought about getting standing desks
Glad you enjoyed, Aleeza! Wondering if there’s a reason your company decided not to try them out yet?
Standing desk have been a great help in our office
Nice! Great to hear, Alice.
These are such great suggestions and I am so pleased that my company has already instituted a few of these!
Same here! I love when companies see the value of these kind of initiatives (and more and more definitely are).
great suggestions, thank you
Of course! Glad you found them useful, Julie.
Definitely not a run-of-the-mill list of old and tired suggestions. Some we are using here already (Dance competitions!) and many can be implemented immediately.
Solid article and one I am going to be referring back to frequently to use more of the ideas listed.
Awesome! Love the feedback, thanks for leaving it, Jeff.
Those are some really good ideas. I am going to take some of them and run with them now!
Yes, that’s what we LOVE to hear! Let us know what you chose and how they go!
This was a very good read! Currently our office is doing a fitness challenge which i think is really helping with moral! 🙂
Awesome! Thanks for the feedback. That’s the great thing about fitness challenges, there are multiple benefits for your org.
These are some wonderful ideas! I’m especially fond of a simple one “working remote” day. It really does refresh the mind when I can work from my home, but I always love coming back to my office to re-connect with my staff. My kids and hubby love being able to come home to see me there early too…
Thanks for the feedback, Jessica! I agree, a change of scenery once a week actually helps your creativity and productivity.
We love personal/professional development in the office because each person is encouraged to select something that is relevant/appropriate to their role. We also have a “good news” bell which we ring whenever we reach a company goal or if someone has good personal news to share!
This is the second time in a couple week that I’ve seen the idea of Walking Meetings – I love it! Great idea for a 1×1, or even for a small team like ours (four people). I also really like the repeated theme in this article of extending trust to your employees by offering things like flexible work schedules, work from home days, and unlimited vacation days. Feeling trusted as an employee makes a huge difference in dedication to the company!
These are such great ideas! We do occasional guided meditation/mindfulness sessions and have a few standing desks, but I love the idea of fitness competitions!
Sizmek offers flexible hours and one day a week of the employees choosing to work from home. We have considered having message therapists come in the office once a month for a relaxation time, and reading this article makes me want to pursue this more.
These are amazing suggestions. I am excited to implement some of these ideas and present them to our Director!
Everyone loves our ‘Serenity Now’ room for those days when you just need a few minutes of alone time. We have a huge recliner, a 6 ft bean bag chair, and a yoga triangle for meditation with a zen garden and essential oil mister. We also have a lot of people converting their desks into standing desks. I buy bed risers and they work perfectly for our desks. I’m working on a fitness challenge for the fall. Our office backs up to the Beltline in Atlanta, a path that goes through the city, so we can go on walks at lunch or a quick power walk break. It’s just SO hot right now and we don’t have a shower in the office. No one wants a stinky coworker. haha.
Great ideas, as always!!! Keep ’em coming!
Thankfully, the company I work for practices a lot of these ideas… we have unlimited PTO, flexible work days/hours, are able to WFH when it makes sense and they gave us all (2) Fitbits (one for us and one for a significant other/friend). Great ideas and should be implemented across the board. Makes for much happier employees.
Awesome, Anita! Always love to hear when companies get it right.
These are some fantastic ideas. I’m glad to say that my organization is implementing several of them but I’m hoping we’ll make greater strides to really see to our employees’ well-being.
Thanks for the feedback, Desiree! Which one would you most like to see at your office?
I love these ideas! At my office, we’ve done fitness challenges, basically who loses the biggest weight percentage in a 8-12 week period, and everyone loved it. Even the employees who weren’t part of the challenge got into it and cheered others on or tempted them with tasty treats. It was great that the president of our company participated and really got things going. It’s the little things like this that make a big difference at work on a day-to-day basis. I really hope we can try some of the other items listed here.
Thank you, Christina! It’s really interesting to see how important buy-in from leadership is.
Good food is the most important one!!
We definitely agree! 🙂
Nice article! I am curious how the unlimited PTO works! I am going to have to do some more research about this!
Thank you, Ashley! The short answer is, it’s contingent on goal completion. If you’re consistently hitting your goals, then you can take as much time off as you see fit.
I will show some of these to my fellow co workers!
Please do! Let us know how they like them.
This is really solid article. My company has already instituted most of these, but the ones we haven’t yet (aside from things like a Vegan challenge) we are at least discussing. Thanks!
Thank you, Darlene!
I can definitely agree with the ‘throw down a fitness challenge’ point. I’ve done that several times over the years and it really helped me focus on my goal. Great post! 🙂
Awesome, thanks for sharing, Paul!
I think #7&8 could really jumpstart some individuals who have become complacent and bored with their jobs. I know as a parent of 4, a day working from home would alleviate a ton of stress by allowing me to maybe clean the house while between important tasks. My only worry would be that some individuals may use it as more of a day off than a work day.
Thanks for the feedback, Josh! It’s always a risk, but you’d be surprised how when you assume the best of your employees they rise to that expectation.
We do regular weight-loss and fitness challenges here. Plus we have a weekly bootcamp class. And our company offers the unlimited vacation policy….. a big stress reliever for those of us with kids!
Awesome! Sounds like your office is a great place to work, thanks for the feedback, Aimee.
Our office allows employees to work from home and we recently built a standing desk bar in the office so that we can bring our laptops over to the bar and get out of our chairs.
The property our office is on has a fitness center, volleyball courts,etc and the property management has put together dodgeball tournaments for all the tenants. Our office likes to go play volleyball every week to break up the week too.
Awesome, Stacey, thanks for sharing! Great example of using the resources you have at hand to boost everyone’s wellbeing.
We have some standing desks and have done a steps challenge before. Would definitely love to do one again with a group goal!
Nice, Mike! A group goal definitely helps boost engagement and camaraderie across the board.
Would love to try a standing desk.
The cardboard ones are cheap and they work! Definitely give it a try.
These are all great tips to not only increase employee interaction, but also increase employee healthiness both mentally and physically.
Thanks, Kaleb! We agree. 🙂
We partner with 24 Hour Fitness to offer our employees discounts for gym membership. There is a 24 Hour Fitness building right across from us so it works great! Also, we had a “Biggest Loser” contest earlier this year to help our employees out with their New Year’s Resolutions.
Those are great ideas! Partnering with local gyms (and even retailers) is an underutilized tactic.
Walking meetings are the best!
It’s so important for my company to be supportive of fitness initiatives at work. Doing so leads to more productive and happier workers
Couldn’t agree more, Donna! Thanks for the feedback.
Wonderful tips! Some of the office in our space have standup desk. I would love to be able to incorporate more of these as our company grows. Right now our leadership is really focussed on how much “face time” everyone has in the office, which takes a drain on the flexible working schedule.
Very true – it’s a balance, and face time is certainly valuable, but one day a week of remote or flex time is certainly doable. Thanks for the feedback, Jennifer!
These are some awesome ideas! I just have to find a way to make time.
Many of these things are very helpful, I will try to implement them
Please do – and let us know how it goes!
Oristands are great. Would highly suggest to any one looking for a stand-up desk on a budget. Also a great option for people who want to ensure they have a stand-up option if they’re traveling
great suggestions for our very active office! it’s always nice to break the habit of sitting at your desk all day!
Awesome suggestions for various ways to help out
I hate sitting at a desk all day and really wish my office would provide employees with a standing desk. It would help keep me awake and healthy. I need to show this article to my coworkers. Great ideas!
We’ve started implementing flexible hours for certain departments. Seems to be going great so far, and hopefully everyone else can join in !
Great ideas! Thanks!
These actually really helped. Thanks.
I’ve been asking for standing desks for a while now. Still haven’t gotten them, but we began implementing some of these other ideas!
Great ideas, especially meditation and Vegan Day. We can incorporate Vegan Day with a company lunch.
Companies really could do more for their employees’ well being. SnackNation is doing great to improve employee health!
I definitely need to incorporate some of these!
Our company gift last Holiday season were Microsoft Bands and then we set up challenges for us all to compete in. Promoting healthy lifestyles is a priority for us!
Good ideas…many common sense. Really like the “walking meeting” to get out but take care of business at the same time.
Great article! We’ve instituted a few of these already (like sit/stand desks and walking meetings), but you’ve given me many more ideas on how to improve moral and well-being.
The fitness challenge sounds great for our office. Everyone loves a challenge.
This is a great read! I will be sure to pass it along. I would love the walk meetings and the dance breaks to name a few. Really great ideas!
Thanks for sharing, Nikki!
Love the ideas, but I work for the GOVERNMENT and 90% of these are not options in the Public Sector, just saying.. 🙂 Had a good laugh at the endless vacation idea as well as the Unlimited Paternity/maternity leave. There are laws that support these types of leaves although not endless.
I do not think people realize how effective these measures are. Some of them combat stress while others are great for team building and morale.
Great tips…thank you for the article.
Of course! Thanks for reading.
My favorite idea was the walking meeting! So much time is wasted on 10 meetings a day where employees don’t pay attention because everyone is multi-tasking due to lack of time.
Loved the article! and shared a couple pointers with my colleagues and BOSS! 🙂
My company was understanding towards the challenges i faced in terms of traffic and the long distance away from home, especially being an hour’s drive away from my two children everyday. I almost resigned but they now decided that I can work two days from home the first week and three days from home the second week and it alternates like that! i have to say i am very disciplined and meet all my deadlines. This saves me two hours a day in traffic and the best part is, mom is at home when the kids come home from school. Why would i ever not want to make this work? I’m loving it!
Hey Lee-Anne! That’s so cool that your company is understanding about your overall wellbeing and cares about you and your family.
Thanks for sharing!
An employee is also a company’s asset. And it’s important for the company to help them boost their wellbeing.
I loved this article! Great points and I totally agree. To focus on the wellbeing of the company, you must enhance the wellbeing of your staff. The mood of employees in the workplace speaks volumes about a firm.
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Hi My name is peter thanks for sharing the information of employee wellbeing And it’s important for the company to help them boost their wellbeing.
The facts that have been discussed here are really important. Thank you so much for sharing a great post.
One of the most sure-fire ways to increase stress is to rush from place to place and task. Excellent explanation. Anyone can easily comprehend since it’s simple & focused. Keep up the great work!
Since most people spend a large percentage of their lives at work it is important to invest in the well-being of employees. While the blog gave many examples of ways to increase the wellbeing of others, I really liked how it looked at a holistic approach, not only physical well-being but mental and emotional wellness too. In my opinion the benefit of employee wellbeing extends far beyond being the right thing to do, making it a priority happens if a company is intentional. Employee well-being should be a company’s focus because employees are assets and when they are invested in and nurtured not only would better performance be more likely, but companies would gain from more qualitative benefits such as more positive culture and working environment. Creating opportunities goes along way to opening doors for the business in the future through relationship building, while personal development benefits a company when an employee learns new skills if they leave then it can benefit the company establishing an external network for future business ventures. Employees that can be trusted to work autonomously do tend to be less stressed and burnt out and end up saving businesses in management fees without compromising reliability. I liked that the blog also spoke about the generational differences ex. millennials needing more recognition, it leans toward treating people as unique and recognizing their individual needs rather than a one size fits all approach. Team building and company culture development help improve the business environment with proof that it is better to take a proactive approach ex. preventative care such as flu shots saving the company absentee days in the future. Overall, there seems to be compelling evidence that people who feel supported by their company will be willing to go the extra mile when called on to do so, a two-way street that benefits both parties if handled correctly.