Employee wellness programs take many different shapes and sizes. They are a great way to bring preventative health strategies to life and motivate employees to try different wellness tools.
According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 70 percent of employers offer a workplace wellness program. With soaring healthcare and labor costs, these programs can promote well being, address chronic conditions like obesity and back pain, and help employees deal with stress and burnout.
Workplace wellness programs aren't just a fluff perk. Researchers have found that these program can lower healthcare costs, improve productivity and reduce absenteeism. One study found that those who participated in these programs gained over 10 hours in productivity and saved an average of $353 per person per year compared to non-participating employees.
While it may seem intimidating to start a wellness program at work, there is one way to ease in: Wellness Wednesdays.
What Is Wellness Wednesday?
The middle of the week can be the most trying day for office workers: The weekend buzz has worn off and Saturday isn't quite close enough. For employees, a Wellness Wednesday might be the perfect reprieve from the mid-week blues.
Wellness Wednesdays are becoming more popular in the workplace. It's a dedicated day at the office where you encourage your employees to think about their health and well being through on-site activities and perks.
This is an easy way to begin to implement a wellness program at your office and reinvigorate a larger corporate wellness program, and it's only one day a week! Plus, it's easier to adopt and maintain habits if you have a supportive community, like coworkers, around you.
Ideas for Wellness Wednesday
Your Wellness Wednesday program doesn't have to be pricey or elaborate to encourage employees to make healthy choices. Here are eight employee wellness incentive program ideas to try:
- Make it a Challenge: Create a challenge to see which team or department drinks the most water or walks the most steps in a day. Challenge your employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator or try more lighthearted challenges like a hula hoop competition. These regular challenges can help promote new habits.
- Treat Them to Health Snacks: We all know that office snacks have a reputation for being unhealthy. Think chips, cookies and cake. But those sugar and sodium-laden foods can make you feel sluggish, making it hard to concentrate at the office. Instead, switch up the office snacks on Wednesdays.
- Bring Yoga to the Office: Bring in a yoga teacher for a weekly class on-site. This can be an easy way to introduce employees to yoga and make it easier for them to participate. Plus, research has shown that yoga can help alleviate pain associated with back pain.
- Organize a Tasting: Bring in a registered dietitian to organize cooking demos — like making homemade salsa, guacamole or another simple healthy recipe. This is a fun way to get employees excited about healthy eating and to try new foods, not to mention a great way to be inspired to cook!
- Try Mindful Wednesdays: Workplace stress and burnout are a concern for many employers. According to The American Institute of Stress, 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job. To bring some calm to the office, organize a weekly meditation class. It doesn't have to be long — 10 to 15 minutes can go a long way.
- Treat Them to a Massage: Stiff neck or sore back from staring at a computer all day? Bring in a masseuse and offer employees 10 minute chair massages. Not only can it relieve aches and pains, it provides a quick mood boost too!
- Stop and Stretch: It's easy to sit all day in an office. Designate an employee to lead stretch breaks throughout the day, especially targeted to the hands, wrists, neck, shoulders and back.
- Start a Club: These can be a fun way to encourage your employees to be more physically active. Or start an intramural team — softball, bowling, anything goes! It's also a fun way to build connections between employees.
Most of all, make the activities fun. Everyone loves a little healthy competition so make Wednesdays the day when employees try to outdo each other with their healthy habits. Or, offer employees points or perks for participating in different activities. Ask your employees for employee wellness incentive program ideas, preventative health strategies and feedback.
So, if you're thinking of starting a corporate wellness program or need to re-energize an existing program, try starting a Wellness Wednesday program at your office. It may be just what your employees need to jump-start their health, mood and productivity!