Workplace Wellness

How To Incorporate Wellness in The Workplace

Written by Kelsey

Think about your average day at work…

Do you generally feel like you’re productive or not so much? Do you generally feel like you are engaged, present and good at staying focused throughout the day? Do you feel like you’re good at communicating with your team and organized in the way you structure yourself and your work throughout the day?

Now think about what factors contribute to the way in which you answered all of the above questions.

In this article, we’ll be answering the following questions:

  1. Why is wellness important in the workplace?
  2. What does wellness in the workplace look like?
  3. How do you bring wellness into the workplace?
  4. How do you develop a culture of wellness?
  5. What are the 4 ways to promote wellness?
  6. Examples of companies that have a good wellness culture?

1. Why is Wellness in the Workplace Important?

For most of us, the most basic factor that determines how well we perform at work, is how well we take

For most of us, the most basic factor that determines how well we perform at work, is how well we take care of ourselves and well-being overall. Work is where most of us spend about two-thirds of our time throughout the week. If we’re neglecting our personal health and wellness needs, it is likely to compoundly affect our ability to show up as our best selves, in and outside of the workplace.

Companies in the United States have invested in workplace wellness strategies for decades now, but only recently have they put wellness at the forefront of their employee satisfaction, retention and recruitment strategies. Today’s organizations are realizing more and more the importance and demand for innovative wellness support in the workplace and the impact it can have on the business, but why now? 

There are many reasons…

We’ve seen a consistent increase in “wellness” becoming a macro-trend

  • In media: blogs, influencers, tv series, constantly discussed in the news & talk shows, 
  • Retail: New companies are emerging everyday that are focused on wellness, selling products like dietary supplements, personal care products, mental health services and personal coaching.
  • Marketing: Companies are focusing on mental health and personal wellness in their messaging now more than ever before

The pandemic made everyone realize… 

  • The importance of mental health and mental healthcare
  • Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are more common then we thought
  • What kind of lifestyle is important to them & that it’s possible for them to have it

As a result of mental health being more commonly and openly discussed, jobseekers and employees are now able to demand change (i.e. an increase in workplace wellness efforts and benefits from employers). Companies know that today’s top talent is looking for a forward-thinking culture that fosters innovation, professional development and personal well-being.

2. What does wellness in the workplace look like?

Wellness can look very different and take many different forms from organization to organization. Each company has its own unique people behind it with unique goals, interests, health needs, athletic capabilities, etc. What wellness looks like in your workplace is entirely dependent on your organization’s specific structure, circumstances and goals, just to name a few important factors to consider.

Additional factors that can determine or change what wellness can look like at your organization: 

The location of your employees:

Where is your company located? What health or fitness facilities and resources are available to your people? Do you have multiple offices in multiple cities with varying climates, resources, and demographics? Do you have a hybrid or full remote team that would need or be interested in different activities and health goals?

Demographics of your employees:

People of different ages, physical abilities, health conditions, backgrounds, etc. are going to have varying health needs, goals and preferences. It’s important to consider what those unique needs, goals and preferences of the people at your organization are.

Interests and hobbies of your employees:

Not even identical twins have the exact same interests and hobbies, so logically, not every company is going to have people that share all the same interests and hobbies. Furthermore, no company is going to have an entire team of people with the exact same hobbies and interests. That’s why it’s important to talk to and really get to know the people in your organization. Whether it’s through casual lunch conversations or strategic pulse surveys, getting to know your employees as people is going to be the best way to determine what they need and how to provide it for them. 

Your company culture:

Observe your current company culture. Whether you’re a new company with just a handful of employees or a multinational corporation with thousands of employees, take some time to observe your current company culture. What are your company values? And do they reflect how the people at your organization actually think, feel, act and treat one another.

All of these factors can be used to determine what wellness can and should look like at your individual workplace. Ultimately, the most important thing to keep in mind is that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to wellness programs. What wellness “looks like” is determined by the needs and interests of the individual people at your organization.

3. How do you bring wellness into the workplace?

If you feel like wellness isn’t currently a part of your company’s culture, environment or day-to-day, that’s completely fine. It’s never too late to get started, but it’s important to incorporate it in a thoughtful way.

You want to have a good feel for how your employees will react to new aspects of wellness you’d like to introduce. Some people will be more open to it and some will be hesitant to get involved. The best way to make an accurate prediction and design a wellness program that works is to first conduct a pulse survey. Pulse surveys are a great tool for learning about your employees interests, needs and level of satisfaction at work.

Pulse surveys can also be conducted to gauge employee’s satisfaction levels throughout the year or duration of an individual program. This can help employers identify pain points and make changes accordingly.

Learn more about how to use and get the most out of pulse surveys here.

4. How do you develop a culture of wellness?

There are so many things to consider and focus on when running a company. Wellness can often fall to the wayside because it’s not something that urgently and directly affects a company’s bottom line. But overtime, poor attention to and care for the physical, mental, financial, social and environmental well-being of your people can have a severe negative impact on not just the bottom line, but the ability of your company to succeed overall.

The important thing to remember is that it’s never too late to introduce aspects of wellness to your team and begin the production of an effective wellness program.

Some people may argue that wellness is a luxury or something that doesn’t need effort and attention, but it’s actually one of, if not, the most important part of having a cohesive, high-functioning, and highly-productive team. ​​

Some companies use wellness initiatives as a way of boosting the volume of participants, employee morale and productivity. Some choose to support their employee’s mental well-being by providing employees with mental health benefits to empower them to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Some companies choose to invest a generous amount of time and energy in order to foster interpersonal relationships by hosting company outings and celebrations.

There are seven recognized areas of wellness:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Relationshional/social
  • Financial 
  • Environmental
  • Occupational
  • Spiritual

When it comes to implementing wellness in the workplace, companies should focus on three main areas: physical wellness, mental wellness and camaraderie.

Physical Wellness

An employee with poor physical wellness will often struggle with being present throughout the workday. Employees with poor physical health and well-being may find it difficult to work quickly and efficiently due to a lack of energy. They also may struggle to communicate and interact efficiently with their coworkers throughout the day.

Taking care of one’s physical wellness includes things like encouraging employees to get healthy exercise, eat a balanced diet and get sufficient sleep.

An employer can support and provide resources to employees by:

  • Offering fitness facility discounts, reimbursements or incentives to do healthy activities
  • Coordinating a fitness challenge or wellness challenge for employees to participate in voluntarily
  • Offering discounts or reimbursements on fitness equipment or meal plans
  • Access to physical health professionals and coaches
  • Providing a resource library with educational content (like articles, videos, tutorials, etc.) to help manage, improve or prevent future health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, etc.

Mental Wellness

An employee who is struggling with mental health or well-being can cost your organization a lot. Poor mental health or mental health issues can commonly cause absenteeism and low productivity. In some cases, it can even lower the employee’s ability to build and manage relationships with their coworkers or even cause conflict within the team. 

Properly tending to mental wellness includes things like managing stress levels or depression, developing healthy coping mechanisms for difficult feelings and situations, and practicing self-care. Mental health care in the United States is difficult to attain for many, with or without health insurance.

An employer can support and provide resources to employees by:

  • Offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Providing meditation rooms and mindfulness training
  • Access to or discounts on mental health platforms and services (like Headspace, Alma, Talkspace, etc.)
  • Providing a resource library with educational content to help improve common mental health conditions; like depression, anxiety, etc.
  • Counseling to improve a specific issue or prevent an issue in the future (from outside the organization or trained leadership within the organization)

Camaraderie

Camaraderie has a heavy impact on the success of your organization. Poor camaraderie can have a negative effect on:

  • Your team’s ability to communicate effectively and efficiently  
  • How willing your team is to share and discuss new ideas or solutions
  • How well your team works together to achieve goals, big projects and daily tasks
  • How willing everyone on the team is to help, support and teach one another
  • How motivated your team is to contribute to the success of the business as a whole

Healthy camaraderie in the workplace can mean teams work collaboratively and cohesively. It means people from multiple teams are consistently sharing ideas, discussing problems and solutions and engaging in conversation. Team members have healthy relationships and friendships in and outside of the workplace. An employer can support and provide resources to employees by:

  • Conducting weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly opportunities for employees to bond, converse and get to know one another through non-work related conversations and interactions
  • Team lunches
  • Holiday parties
  • Social/public appreciation recognition

5. 4 ways to promote wellness in the workplace

1. Get a pulse on how employees are feeling and what they want 

The best way to implement wellness in the workplace is by getting to know your employees; what they like, what they dislike, what they feel like they want/need, and most importantly, how they feel. Conducting pulse surveys to collect this information before designing your wellness program designing your wellness program as well as throughout and during is a best practice when it comes to creating a culture of wellness that is both inclusive and effective.

2. Get people engaged

Conducting pulse surveys is step one of getting people engaged; step two is designing programs that speak to people’s interests and needs. Step three is providing support, motivation and (most effectively) incentives throughout the program. Employees are much more likely to partake in a wellness program or activity if there’s a social component, like a progress board or chat room for updates and motivational messages. Research shows that employees are also 33 times more likely to participate in a wellness program when offered incentives.

3. Provide educational resources and support

Creating and implementing a wellness program in the workplace is essentially useless unless you are Creating and implementing a wellness program in the workplace is essentially useless unless you are providing the proper support and resources to help educate and guide employees.  There are many ways to provide resources such as creating a hub of information, guides, tutorials, etc. in a digital space that is communally accessible. Many companies also conduct “lunch and learns” to help keep employees engaged while educating them on proper wellness practices. Employers can also provide support by electing someone to answer any questions employees may have and encouraging them to ask.

4. Conduct activities your team will love

Once you have a good gauge on what your employees are interested in and feel like they need, you can use that information to design the types of activities, areas of focus, structure, etc. you’d like to incorporate.

For example, some organizations may have a highly-active team that loves engaging in outdoor activities and physical exercise. This could mean two things:

  • You’ll want to incorporate some activities that involve physical activities in outdoor environments. Starting a league or encouraging everyone to be participants in a marathon run might be the way to go.
  • You might want to touch on some other areas of wellness that your employees may not focus on as much, like mental, social, financial, environmental. But you’ll have to make sure to get creative with how you’ll keep them engaged if it’s not something they’d normally be interested in on their own.

Bonus: offer a wellness program with incentives

Research shows that offering incentives not only makes employees 33 times more likely to participate in your wellness program, but it’s also proven to boost performance and productivity by 25-44 percent. There are many different types of incentives you can offer to motivate people to be genuinely engaged in your wellness program.

Read this post to learn about the different kinds of incentives you can offer and which one is right for your team: The Ultimate Guide on Wellness Incentives

6. Examples of companies that have effectively cultivated a culture of wellness

Cisco

With over 57,000 employees, it can be difficult to implement a culture of wellness that works for everyone, but Cisco really excels when it comes to providing mental health and well-being support and benefits. Cisco gave its entire population a collective mental health day at the start of the pandemic.

Additionally, Cisco provides a full spectrum of EAP counseling as well as behavioral health benefits. Not only is the EAP available for employees, it’s extended to their dependents as well. The program includes 8 counseling visits which are also extended to anyone in the employee’s household, regardless of if they are on the employee’s  health insurance.

Read more about Cisco’s mental health benefits here.

Monster

Monster focuses on fostering a sense of community among employees. One way they’ve invested in their internal community is by creating support & discussion groups for employees experiencing similar interests, circumstances or challenging situations.

“We launched two more employee resource groups. One was for parents and caregivers…to share stressors and strains, but also ideas…and to be a support to each other.” 

– Claire Barnes, Chief Human Capital Officer for Monster

Read more about Monster’s company culture here.

Ultimately, best practice for introducing wellness into your workplace is by asking your people what they want and combining that with what the company needs to create a program that benefits. For more advice and ideas on how to incorporate wellness into your workplace, you can always browse our products and resource library.