5 remote-friendly employee wellness program ideas

Engagement & Motivation
September 27, 2021
“We are embedding health and well-being at the heart of our business strategy because our people are our greatest asset, and we recognize that a healthy, happy, and committed workforce is vital to our business success.”

- Alex Gourlay, MD, Boots UK

Leaders around the globe have started to recognize the importance of employee well-being. They understand the array of benefits employee wellness brings with itself that can prove to be high-yielding for the company.

It has become increasingly important to focus on employee wellness when the world is in the middle of a pandemic and your employees are struggling with its consequences and the massive workplace shift as well.

This is where an employee wellness program can make a meaningful impact within your organization. Let’s take a closer look at what a wellness program is as well as how it can benefit your organization.

What is an Employee Wellness Program?

Wellness is a broad term with multiple dimensions (see image below). Employee Wellness Programs are initiatives offered by employers that target one or more of these dimensions for the benefit of their employees. Today wellness has become an integral part of employee engagement efforts at many organizations and has led to a significant improvement in employee engagement.

Source: Tudsu.tv, Eight Dimensions of Wellbeing

What makes an Employee Wellness Program important

The answer lies in the fact that a happy employee is more likely to be an engaged employee. They not only give more towards the growth of the company, but they are also more likely to be loyal and to help their colleagues reach their target potential at the same time. Employee engagement, therefore, is critical to support the overall health and growth of the business.

Here are some facts and figures -

  • Employees who scored low on “life satisfaction” stayed home from work 1.25 more days per month than those with higher scores, adding up to about 15 additional days off per year
  • A large majority (87%) of employers are committed to workplace wellness, and 73% offer a wellness program, according to a survey. In a survey of SFM policyholders, one-third of respondents offered a wellness program. This percentage went up to 77% for the largest employers
  • In a survey, more than 60% of employers said workplace wellness programs reduced their organizations’ health care costs
  • Studies show that well-designed wellness programs have a return on investment of $1.50 to $3 per dollar spent over a two- to a nine-year timeframe.

Source: (SFM Mutual Insurance Company (Aug 2018). 10 statistics that make the case for workplace wellness programs)

Today’s scenario (Lockdown/Work from home) and the need for the Employee Wellness Program

Needless to say, the COVID19 pandemic has massively impacted lives across the globe. Although thanks to technology, it is now possible for many workers to be equally (if not more) productive from home and to continue to collaborate with their remote colleagues. Conversely, the pandemic and the lack of direct contact with coworkers, friends, and family has deeply affected the wellbeing of many workers. People are facing not just physical health issues but a myriad of other challenges affecting their mental health, relationships, financial situation, etc. 

Employers are increasingly aware of the impact of these challenges on their workers’ wellbeing. Many understand that they cannot expect employees to work at their best when they are simultaneously dealing with numerous personal issues. As a result, many employers are extending a helping hand to their employees in these tough times.

Let’s look at some of the ways employers are supporting their employees’ well-being.

Different Remote-friendly Employee Wellness Program Ideas and how they are effective -

1. Monthly wellness budget

As part of an incentives package, companies are offering a monthly amount - say $100 - to employees for eligible wellness benefits. This amount can be reimbursed to employees upon presenting their receipts for eligible services, which often include gym memberships, a spa day, or any other rejuvenating activities.

2. Employee Assistance Programs: 

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) consists of many services, such as mental health counseling sessions, financial advice, relationship counseling, and legal advice. These services are related to some of the problems commonly encountered by workers in their everyday lives.

An employer-sponsored EAP can alone take care of most of the wellness dimensions. There are many organizations in the market that provide EAP services, and a company can choose to collaborate with the one it finds the most suitable.

3. It’s log-out time!: 

With working from home as the new normal, extended working hours have also become a commonly observed trend. 

According to a study by Gibbs, Mengel & Siemroth (July 2021) on 10,000 employees from Asia, employees are now working 30% longer hours from home. Thus, contributing to greater levels of stress and burnout.

It is therefore important for employers to understand the limitations of working from home and accordingly assign realistic daily goals to their employees. Send reminders to employees to catch a breath between tasks and use a time-tracking app such as Hubstaff, Toggl, or Harvest to track the number of hours your employees are working.

If you find someone working extra hours, reach out to them and try to understand the reason behind their doing so. This will help you understand if your employees are getting overburdened with work or if they are facing other issues that are causing them to stay at their computers longer. Target those problems and work with your staff to mitigate or resolve them. Help your employees create a balance between work and personal life. It will also improve the work-culture of your company.

4. Let’s work for society: 

When you do good for others, it always brings a sense of serenity and happiness to your soul. Alas! With our busy schedules and deadlines, we often do not get enough time to engage in such activities.

Serving your community and doing good for the environment is also one of the dimensions of wellness. Many corporations are already all too aware of the responsibilities they have towards their communities and the environment.

And, so, engaging in projects and initiatives that help a local community or the environment, more broadly can be a great way to get employees involved in this type of wellness activity. Employees can be asked to volunteer a certain portion of their time on an ongoing basis or to participate in limited-time initiatives such as a neighbourhood clean-up. 

This project will not only be food for their soul but will also be a great opportunity for your employees to bond, experience a change of scenery, and then be recognized by their colleagues for their contributions to a good cause.

5. Want to join a club? 

Remember your college days, when you had different clubs catering to different interests of students? Why can’t that culture be taken forward in our corporate lives as well?

Employers can start a poll to gather employees’ willingness to join clubs of their choice, for example - a book club, music/dance club, cooking club, sports club, etc. 

Employees can join a club of their choice and meet fellow employees with similar interests. They can have short virtual meetings during breaks and they can have a dedicated portal where they can discuss things related to the club. For example, the book club can decide on a book of the month.

Bonds among employees are made when they are relaxed and able to discuss things that are not related to work. 

Starting such clubs will not only help in forming bonds among employees but will also encourage cross-departmental communication and camaraderie, thus tapping into their social wellness.

How to make the employee wellness program successful?  

It is not that you need to implement all the above 5 ideas in your company, picking up any one of these and implementing it in your company is enough. Just ensure that it is well planned and effectively implemented. Further, ensure that all your employees are aware of this initiative by using appropriate means of communication. Also, let them know the importance of wellness and self-care and how this initiative can help in the same.

Final words

Concluding the above points we can say that whether we work from the office or work from home, we as an employee and companies as employers should try to adopt a ‘wellness-first’ approach to working. Remember, your employees are an important asset to your company. You take care of them and they will take care of their work, contributing to the long-term success of your company.

To learn how to integrate wellness in your employee recognition program- request a demo with Qarrot!

Guest Author