5 Employee Wellness Programs to Consider for 2019

Employee wellness programs are becoming a priority for more small businesses as the benefits become more apparent. Here are some cost-effective ideas.

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5 new employee wellness programs to try in 2019

Businesses of all sizes are thinking of ways to make 2019 healthier and happier for everyone. What better time than the New Year to add or improve employee wellness programs? Numerous studies indicate that healthy employees are happy employees—and vice versa. When your employees aren’t feeling 100 percent, they and the company suffer. Plus, healthy employees are more productive. However, “health” can mean a lot of things and it’s not always physical.

Helping your employees strive towards physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual well-being can lead to increased productivity and employee longevity. But how can you offer wellness programs that your employees will actually use and find beneficial? There’s no one size fits all solution, and the best way to get started is to invite employee input. Need some inspiration? Here are 5 employee wellness programs that might be the right fit for your company this coming year:

1. Start a Walking Group

This solution is easy, free, and can be employee-driven. Failing to take breaks leads to burnout and eventually employee resentment. Encourage employees to take frequent breaks, but not just to the break room for more artificial lighting and a caffeine boost. Rally eager employees to lead morning, lunch, and/or after-work walking groups. The fresh air is energizing, boosts creativity, and helps feed social wellness needs, too.

2. Bring in Volunteer Wellness Teachers for Morning or Lunch Sessions

This doesn’t mean you need to pay a bundle for lunch yoga. There are many wellness coaches and fitness teachers who need to fulfill a certain number of teaching hours to get their certification or re-certification. If you’re a non-profit or NGO, it’s especially easy to find volunteer teachers who can swing by to offer a session.

3. Create a Healthy Challenge That Isn’t Based on Numbers

Although some businesses have success with Biggest Loser-style in-office challenges, it can also trigger disordered eating. Instead of focusing on numbers, focus on more subjective goals—like how many consecutive days fresh, local veggies can be part of a lunch-time meal. Kicking off these challenges with a brief intro to the importance of a healthy diet for life can help employees re-think their choices.

4. Work with HR to Offer Referral Services

From addiction to technology and food to the more traditional types of addictions we imagine (such as drugs and alcohol), the more employees you have the higher the chance at least one is struggling with addiction or other issues. Depression, anxiety, and eating disorders are just a few of the common struggles Americans face. Do you know what types of referrals your HR department has available? If not, get to know the facts and work with HR to develop an outreach campaign and holistic services or referrals for employees.

5. Work with Local Fitness Facilities for Freebies and Discounts

You might not be able to build a gym at the office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of your neighborhood businesses. Take a look at what’s nearby and stop in to see if you can negotiate a discount for employees. It’s tough to get to the gym, but when employees are within walking distance it’s a lot more achievable. You can also encourage employees to take advantage of these programs by offering perks (like a 75-minute lunch instead of a 60-minute lunch if it includes a gym session).

Employee wellness programs are wholly customizable and your opportunity to put employee health first. Think outside the box and don’t forget to ask your employees what they’d like to see. When they have a vested interest in initiatives, they’re a lot more likely to get involved.

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