Workplace Wellness

28 Wellness Activities Everyone will Love (and How to Get Started)

Written by Kateri

Now more than ever, prioritizing employee health and encouraging them to take part in wellness activities is crucial to the success of a company. In fact, everyone benefits from having healthy employees. The best way to improve the lives of employees and show that their wellbeing is supported is by offering a wellness program that focuses on all aspects on wellness. With wellness activities, employers can give people opportunities to engage in physical, mental, emotional, etc. activities to create healthy behavioral habits.

Keep reading to learn more about wellness activities and why they should be included in all wellness programs. Click a section below to jump right to a specific topic!

What is a Wellness Activity?

First, lets define wellness. At IncentFit, we describe wellness as “a regular practice of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead someone to a state of complete wellbeing.” Wellness is more than just nutrition and exercise. It’s diverse and looks different for everyone, yet has one common purchase: achieving a balanced lifestyle that results in happier, healthier, less stressful lives.

A wellness activity is anything being done that helps achieve that goal. Whether it’s a physical activity to stay active, like exercise, or a 5-minute meditation at the end of the day to relieve stress, wellness activities are the stepping stones to achieving overall health. They help create habits that an individual can use in their daily routine and develop a healthy lifestyle.

Benefits of Wellness Activities

Wellness activities are the perfect way to show employees you care about their wellbeing. Investing in your employees will make a huge difference in their work performance and increase employee morale throughout the workplace. In fact, offering an incentive for employees to take part in wellness activities is a good way to attract talent, keep employees happier both in and outside the office, increase productivity and reduce employee turnover.

“Creating such a culture where health promotion is a valued part of the normal work environment demonstrates an employer’s concern for the health and well-being of their employees, enhances the company’s competitiveness, engages employees, and presents the company as an attractive place to work.”

Importance of Leadership Support for Wellness Activities

Leadership support is one of the most important parts of any workplace wellness program. When employees see company leaders taking part in the same initiatives they’re offering employees, it communicates the purpose of the programs and how it benefits everyone. The more workplace leaders encourage healthy activities while also taking part in them, the higher the participation rates will be. In a study by HERO, organizations with top-scores, in regards to comprehensiveness, had “leaders who publicly recognized employees for healthy actions and outcomes.” These organizations saw a spike in employee health and medical cost improvements.

Overall, it has been shown that leaders who motivate, celebrate and encourage healthy activities have helped not only employee engagement in the program but also substantially boost the wellness program effectiveness. Participants look to their leader for support when being encouraged to complete wellness activities.

Wellness Activities You Can Try

Now that we’ve talked about what wellness activities are and the benefits they have for both the participants and employers, let’s go over some wellness activities you can add to your next wellness competition or program. The key to wellness activities is offering a wide variety that appeals to everyone, so get creative! In addition to variety, adding an incentive for completing these activities is an added bonus, but not always necessary. Here are some ideas for wellness activities you can offer both in office and remote employees:

At home

At home activities make it easy for employees to engage in wellness in the comfort of their own home. Offering practical, well rounded activities employees can do at home aids in reducing stress levels which helps increase morale in the office.

  • Meditate for 5-10 minutes
  • Cook healthy recipes at home
  • Clean areas around the house
  • Walk around the neighborhood
  • Participating in virtual bodyweight fitness classes
  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual
  • Listen to a podcast

For Remote Employees

For many people, working from home has its ups and downs. Most times, employees enjoy being in the comfort of their own home and being able to work freely. However, constantly being at home can generate stressed out people. It also limits the amount of human interaction one has each day, especially with their coworkers. As an employer, building a workplace environment, even remotely, that offers opportunities for people to take care of their health is crucial for the wellbeing and success of employees.

  • Dedicate 2 meetings per week to be taken as walking meetings
  • Motivate people to exercise daily (walking, running, biking, etc.)
  • Offer nutrition advice from credible sources
  • Encourage mindful movement
  • Set up a weekly virtual lunch with coworkers

5 Minute Activities

Although it seems short, dedicating just 5 minutes of your day to complete a wellness activity can increase focus, improve productivity, enhance employee experience and boost morale tremendously.

These short, yet effective, activities help create a foundation for developing healthier behavioral habits. Here are some quick wellness activities employees can take part in:

  • Drinking a glass of warm lemon water in the morning
  • Engage in 5 minutes of breathing exercises daily
  • Standing & stretching throughout the day
  • Call a friend
  • Read a nutrition/fitness/mindfulness article

Mental Wellness Activities

As an employer, providing a resource to employees that explains the importance of prioritizing their mental health is extremely beneficial for everyone. Between the stress of work and home life, people tend to push their mental wellbeing to the side. A person’s mental state can affect their entire body and how it functions. As an employer, building a culture that speaks openly about mental health betters the relationship employees have with one another and also the company leaders.

  • Meditation, stretching, yoga, etc.
  • Journaling
  • Gratitude lists
  • Read a good book
  • Prioritize getting enough sleep

In the Workplace

The workplace is a place where business gets done, of course, but it should also foster an environment that supports employees wellbeing. Worksite wellness is essential to the employee experience and also attracting future talent. The addition of employee wellness activities in the workplace doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or even time-consuming. Here are some ideas for wellness activities / tactics any employer can use in the workplace:

  • Lunch & learn sessions about wellness topics like nutrition, exercise, sleep, hydration, etc.
  • Monthly wellness newsletters
  • Market local health-related events
  • Host monthly lunches where each employees brings a healthy snack or dish
  • Offer a rewards program that uses an incentive to encourage employees to take part in wellness activities
  • Provide standing desks

Tying In Wellness Activities to Wellness Programs

Wellness programs help employees engage in healthy activities that create positive change in their lives. They require employers to step back and analyze their current wellness efforts and decide what type of program will work best for their company. In the past, wellness programs focused on diet and exercise, however, times have changed drastically. Nowadays, wellness programs take an integrated, comprehensive and holistic approach.

So, how do wellness activities fall in line with the new way of wellness programs? Well, they’re essentially the bases of any program. That being said, you’ll want to have a variety a different activities, like the ones mentioned above, because it makes the program available to everyone. It’s important to think about ALL of your employees when designing a program. Meaning, you can’t just focus on one type of activity, like only including fitness activities, because some employees are more active than others, have health conditions that prevent them from taking part in fitness activities, or simply don’t enjoy exercising. Simply put, people won’t participate in a program they don’t like.

To avoid building a program that doesn’t appeal to everyone, employers can designate one person or a team of people to be in charge of developing a well-rounded, holistic program. This person or team can then do research on developing a wellness program, the different types of wellness programs and activities, and even survey employees to learn more about the type of activities they enjoy or want to see in the program.

Different Types of Wellness Programs

Deciding what type of wellness program works best for your team can be difficult, but with the right resources and research it doesn’t need to be! Assessing all of your options makes things easier when it comes time to choosing a wellness program. Wellness programs can range from simple step challenges to rewarding employees for completing certain wellness activities. It’s important to note that offering an incentive to encourage people to participate in the program has shown to increase program engagement and satisfaction. So, let’s go over some different types of wellness programs!

  1. Wellness Challenges

Challenges are a great way to spark teamwork and create friendly competition throughout the office. Like most wellness programs, challenges have shown to increase productivity, employee engagement and boost morale. Here are some challenge ideas:

  1. Activity Rewards

An activity rewards program allows employers to incentivize employees for healthy behaviors. Healthy behaviors produce healthy habits, which is the goal for wellness programs. Activity rewards let participants get rewarded for making healthy choices each day. Employees can be rewarded for running, walking, biking, drinking water, eating vegetables and fruit, getting more sleep, and much more!

  1. Fitness Reimbursements

Having a healthy lifestyle can be expensive. Between gym expenses, workout apparel/accessories, and the cost of healthy foods, making the decision to invest in these things can be hard. With a fitness reimbursement program, employers can reimburse participants for gym memberships, fitness classes, and any other expense included in the plan.

How Employers Can Get Started, and Improve Employee Wellness

Looking to implement wellness activities with your wellness program? No matter what your company size or budget is, it is easier than you think! Here are a few next steps you can take:

  1. Take our introductory webinar series to learn about designing your own worksite wellness program
  2. Read about the options in our whitepaper, the Definitive Corporate Wellness Landscape.
  3. Look at vendors and reviews to see what other companies are doing. Check third-party sites for candid reviews, or look to your HR membership association for recommendations.
  4. Meet with a benefits broker who can advise you and compare several vendors or providers. Some can even secure discounts!
  5. Schedule an introductory call with our sales team for more one-on-one recommendations