20 Workplace Wellness Program Ideas

From healthy snacks to running groups and white noise, introducing wellness programs into your workspace doesn’t need to be complicated or costly.
  • Which wellness programs should you implement in your workspace? The answer is, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
  • The type of wellness practices you offer in your space should reflect the needs of your community. If in doubt, ask your members.
  • Introducing wellness into your space doesn’t need to be complex or costly. To help you get started, here are 20 wellness ideas for flexible workspaces.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Chicago and Harvard found that although workplace wellness programs lead workers to report healthier behaviors, “the efforts did not result in differences in health measures, such as improved blood sugar or glucose levels, how much employers spent on health care or how often employees missed work.”

Studies about workplace wellness have for a long time provided conflicting results. A study published in 2018 by the National Bureau of Economic Research also found that “workplace wellness programs did not reduce health care costs or change health behaviors.”

However, it did find that “wellness-program participants were likely already healthier and more motivated,” which is why one of the main advantages of these programs “is the potential to attract and retain healthy workers with low medical spending.”

Still, there have been studies that concluded that wellness programs are indeed beneficial. So the question isn’t necessarily whether companies should offer wellness programs, but instead the question is about which wellness programs they should implement.

According to the University of Chicago and Harvard’s research, companies shouldn’t give up entirely on wellness efforts, but instead should consider “more targeted approaches”. Others argue that what’s missing is a more holistic approach to wellness.

Tim Finnell told the Daily Memphian that “the whole wellness community is changing from the old smoker surcharges and ‘biggest loser’ competitions to a more comprehensive process that includes mental health, career well being, mentoring programs, tuition reimbursement, financial well being, 401(k) allocation, more time off … and community involvement.”

A Comprehensive List of Workplace Wellness Initiatives

1. Offer Healthy Snacks

The right foods can not only help people with weight management, but when chosen correctly, they can also help improve cognitive function.

Check out “The Best Snacks to Improve Cognitive Function in the Workplace”.

2. Offer (or sell) Branded Water Bottles

For starters, having a water bottle helps remind people that they need to stay hydrated. Second, branded water bottles can help improve your brand positioning and awareness. And last but not least, it can greatly help with environmental wellness as well. Oh, and an added benefit: there will be less trash you’ll have to deal with on a daily basis — bye, bye paper and plastic cups.

3. Go Green

And by this we mean you should incorporate green life into your office. Even a short exposure to the color green can improve innovative thinking, plus plants help purify the air and reduce noise levels.

Check out “The 7 Best Low-Maintenance Plants for the Workplace

4. Host Stress Management Workshops

People are increasingly starting to address their mental health, especially how it is influenced and affected by work. One of the most common issues around work and mental health is stress and anxiety; hosting regular workshops on stress management can help your coworking members cope better with struggles and challenges many face on a day to day basis.

5. Yoga and Meditation

Sometimes just a quick 10 minute break from work can go a long way towards reducing stress and clearing one’s mind. If you have free meeting rooms that aren’t booked or used regularly, consider hosting quick yoga and meditation classes in them; these can also be hosted in empty private offices or common areas.

6. Embrace White Noise

The number one office complaint is unwanted noise levels. Installing speakers and streaming white noise can not only help workers concentrate, but if you play nature sounds, it can also help them reconnect with nature, which can lead to more creative thinking and increased relaxation levels.

7. Organize a Walking or Running Group

Sometimes people need a little extra motivation to get moving. Ask people if they’re interested in creating a workout group for walking, running, biking, swimming, or whatever activity many feel passionate about. Set a recurring day and time and get moving. This will help increase activity levels but also improve your workplace culture.

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8. Embrace Natural Light

Access to natural light greatly influences our mood and emotions. The more people have access to natural light, the happier they feel. Natural light is the key ingredient to workplace happiness.

Check out these “11 Tips to Maximize Natural Light in the Workplace

9. Host Financial Wellness Workshops or Seminars

Though money isn’t life, it’s a big part of it, and some people have a hard time figuring out and organizing their finances. Invite an expert into your space to teach your coworking members about financial health and security and the different steps and options that exist out there. Key points should include savings accounts, how to prepare for the future, credit scores, loans, and so on.

10. Career coaching and mentoring

You can offer this as an added service or as a benefit of your space. Again, invite experts into your space and help people plan their career paths and goals. Additionally, if you want to reach out to your community’s youth, ask your members if they’d be willing to act as mentors for high school and college students that are interested in specific fields of work.

This type of program can also help individuals figure out if they feel fulfilled with where they are in life or if they need to make a change.

11. Encourage healthy habits

Encourage people to drink enough water, eat healthy, move around, sleep enough, and take breaks through incentives (like more meeting room hours allowance, gift cards, small prizes, etc.). Consider using wearable technology if possible to account for people’s patterns.

12. Encourage Learnability

As more people become concerned about robots taking their jobs and their skills becoming obsolete, encourage and make it easy for people to learn new skills, practice the ones they have, and update their knowledge. This can be done through online courses and by inviting experts into your space.

13. Create a Space where People Feel Comfortable Speaking about Mental Health

Though there is more awareness about mental health in the workplace, there is still a lot of stigma around it and people are still not fully comfortable addressing mental health issues at work. Create a space where people feel comfortable opening up and sharing the struggles. You can also host weekly sessions to talk about problems or issues they are dealing with, and to brainstorm possible solutions.

14. Organize a Volunteer Day.

Organize a volunteering day or a fundraising activity, such as a charity walk. In addition to promoting healthy exercise, you will also create a stronger sense of community by encouraging your members to work together for a positive cause.

15. Have a Fully-equipped Kitchen

If you want to encourage healthy eating habits and weight management, you have to make it easy for people to eat healthily. One way to do this is to make sure your kitchen has an oven, stove, microwave and necessarily tools and utensils for them to bring in their food and eat in the workplace. This also requires a nice eating area.

16. Encourage Nap Time

Sleep deprived individuals tend to be moody, angry, and more stressed. They’re also less able to work efficiently and productively. Encourage people to sleep or take a nap by having a quiet area they can go to or by offering nap pods in your space.

17. Offer 24/7 Access

Fact is, not all people work best at the same time. There are early birds and night owls and people should be able to work at times that work best for them and when they are at their most productive and creative selves. Offering 24/7 access to members can also help them better balance their work and personal lives.

18. Bike Storage and Showers

This can be especially beneficial if you’re located in a neighborhood or area where people tend to walk a lot. Offer bike storage and showers to encourage alternative methods of transportation (walking, biking, running).

19. Pet-Friendliness

If you’re not pet friendly and don’t want to be, consider having a once monthly pet-friendly day. Either people can bring in their pets or you can partner with a local shelter for them to bring in puppies. Petting and playing with puppies can reduce stress and anxiety and help people feel more relaxed.

20. Set Up Designated Coffee and Snack Times

Quick disclaimer, this doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be able to drink coffee and eat snacks when they feel like it. But, having a designated time for these activities will encourage people to take regular breaks and get together, mingle, and engage with one another.

There are countless other workplace wellness programs out there that can be easily implemented in flexible workspaces. If you don’t know where to start or what type of program to offer, reach out to your members and ask them what they are concerned about or need help with: be it weight management, stress, mental health, financial security, smoking, physical activity, or anything else.

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