4 Employee Wellness Initiatives That Will Improve Their Health Immediately

As employee burnout becomes more prevalent across the board, it’s critical that companies take active measures to support the mental, physical, and emotional health of their staff. Currently, 23% of employees report feeling burnt out in their jobs, costing an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion each year in healthcare spending. The price organizations pay is far greater though, as poor health initiatives also negatively impact productivity and retention rates. Supporting employee health doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune or building an in-house gym – start with these 4 employee wellness initiatives that will improve their health immediately.

1.      Offer nutritional food options

Instead of bringing in donuts on Friday mornings or filling the office vending machine with calorie-packed snacks, reconsider the food options that employees are being offered. Food doesn’t just nourish employees, it fuels their mental growth. Eating well at work can be a challenge, causing many employees to let their healthy habits slip when they’re in the office. Switch out sugary or fatty snacks for almonds or protein bars. Bring in fresh fruit for weekly smoothies. Keep cold, filtered water and ice machines available in each break room or kitchen. These minor tweaks can make all the difference for promoting clean eating in the office.

2.      Make your office pet-friendly

While having dogs in the workplace isn’t feasible for every office space, there are undeniable benefits to having pet-friendly policies. Many employees find comfort in having their pet with them and dogs increase positive social interactions between colleagues, encouraging collaboration and strengthening relationships. This social support is considered a key factor in whether individuals with mental illness return to work or remain employed. E-commerce giant Amazon is currently one of 8% of offices in the U.S. that allow dogs to join their owners at the office – up from 5% in 2013. With careful implementation of rules and policies, pet-friendly workplaces can be productive and efficient while supporting the mental health of staff.

3.      Encourage physical activity

A critical part of boosting employee health is encouraging regular physical activity. Aside from the physical benefits of exercise, cognitive, mental, and emotional health are also greatly improved. There are plenty of initiatives that companies can develop to get their staff active, both inside and outside of the workplace. If you don’t already, offer the option of standing desks – they’re proven to reduce back pain and risk of heart disease while simultaneously providing an energy and mood boost. Create a walking group that meets a few times a week to spend lunch or break time taking a walk around the office or through the local community. Coordinate monthly activities, like yoga, or organize a team for a charity 5K walk or run.

Supplement these initiatives by creating daily, weekly, or monthly challenges with incentives. For example, have employees track how often they take the stairs instead of the elevator – reward whoever is at the top of the leaderboard each month or delegate teams within the office and see who can walk the most steps by the end of the workweek.

4.      Support time off

One of the best rewards for these incentive programs is paid time off. This may seem counterintuitive on the surface but supporting employee time off is imperative to their wellbeing. Work-related stress is linked to a bevy of health risks, including impaired sleep, depression, diabetes, and heart disease – the effect of working long hours alone has an estimated 20% increase in mortality. Additionally, overworking can quickly lead to a performance drop-off, as employees progressively work less efficiently on tasks. By incentivizing challenges with additional PTO and encouraging employees to take advantage of all of their current days off, they’re less likely to become burnt out and more likely to appreciate the supportive culture of the organization.

The benefits that you reap by integrating these concepts into your company are virtually endless. Beyond improving employees’ health, their investment in the organization and commitment to the company increases drastically. These initiatives supplement your corporate culture programs and can provide you with a competitive edge during the recruiting process. By supporting the health of your employees, you’re ensuring the wellbeing of your organization.

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