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Employee Wellness Programs: What You Need to Know

In today’s innovative world companies are getting more and more creative with their offerings in order to attract and retain top talent. Gone are the days where people solely chased that big paycheck. Salaries aren’t enough and job seekers are searching for companies that will invest in their talent and wellbeing.

Businesses understand the benefits of non-monetary perks and have brought fun and unconventional practices into their offices to increase employee morale and productivity. Whether it’s a Ping-Pong table in the break room or a few standing desks around the office, it’s important to invest in the wellness of your workforce.



But what’s the ROI?

With a definite return on investment, employee wellness programs should be at the forefront of every company’s workplace wellness strategy. When observing the returns, it’s essential to view them on a long-term basis while incorporating direct (less health care claims) and indirect (less absenteeism) savings into the calculation.

Healthy employees are not only less costly but are also more productive which ultimately generates more value for the company. While exact numbers vary depending on the size of the business, this study found a 6:1 return on investment for their employee wellness program.

So don’t cheap out on your workplace wellness strategy, view it as an investment that will yield high returns in the long run.


But what should be included in the program?

As much as napping pods and office dogs are fun additions to the workplace, it’s crucial to ask your employees what they truly need. Often enough employee wellness programs are developed and implemented by a small number of upper management and HR.

So ask for input. 

Depending on the size of the organization, getting employee feedback can be as simple as having a brief brainstorming session or conducting a survey. By involving your team, they will be more likely to participate in the program and will benefit more from its tailored approach. While it’s important to ask for feedback, it’s imperative to have a few ideas going into these feedback sessions.

Here are 3 things you should consider including in your program.



1. Nutrition – You are what you eat 

I know, I know. This expression is as old as time and you’ve probably been hearing it since you were a kid refusing to finish your vegetables. But the food we consume directly affects how we feel which consequently affects our productivity. By providing your employees with healthy snacks and/or catered meals you are encouraging them to make healthy food choices. Hootsuite headquarters in Vancouver even has a garden on their rooftop where they harvest healthy snacks and salad ingredients. Having a nutritionist readily available for employees is also a good way to encourage your staff to develop healthy eating habits.



2. Physical Activity – If you feel good, you look good

Although I’m 99.99% sure I distorted that last expression, working out releases feel good hormones. Having an active body keeps employees feelin’ good and their work lookin’ good. Whether it’s switching up office chairs for exercise balls, giving your employees a gym membership allowance or even setting up a monthly Quidditch match, it’s essential to incorporate physical activity in your workplace culture.



3. Mental Health – Be there or be square 

In order for an employee to do the best work they can do, they need to be there mentally. Although still a little stigmatized, workplaces are starting to see the importance of sick days being used for mental health as well. Look at this CEO’s awesome response to one of their employees taking two days off to focus on their mental health. It’s important to train the brain to deal with stress and other distractions properly. By offering yoga classes during lunch or even having a psychologist accessible to employees, you are encouraging your staff to prioritize their mental health.


So get creative!

There are infinite ways you can improve and tailor your employee wellness program to your office needs. Don’t get too side-tracked with the flashy office design features every Millennial “seems” to want. Remember to ask your team what they really need, monitor the program and implement changes if necessary.


About the author

Amanda Steski is an avid snacker and writer with Desk Nibbles.

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