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  • Writer's picturePatricia Louise

Designing and Implementing an Employee Health and Wellness Program

a workspace with happy people in a group wellness activity

Designing an employee health initiative unique to your organization is a key step in improving well-being and performance. Healthy and happy employees can effectively unlock the doors to an extraordinary realm of innovation and productivity.

In this guide, we’ll explore all the common denominators of a successful employee health and wellness program. Create your own company culture blueprint and take the first step toward building a healthier workplace.

Let’s get started!

What is an Employee Wellness Program?

Before we get into the details, let’s briefly explore the fundamental concept of our purpose here.

Simply put, an employee wellness program is built on a series of benefits designed to support your staff’s physical, emotional, and mental health. The primary objective is to help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance, reducing the risk of stress, anxiety, and burnout.

Some workplace health and wellness programs also aim to assist employees in overcoming more serious health-related issues

Common Denominators of Employee Health Programs

A picture with motivation, performance, belonging and positivity

A well-targeted approach is usually the smartest way to build a new strategy. And since we want your odds for success to be maximized every step of the way, let’s start with the basics.

Most workplace health and wellness programs have a few common denominators that set them apart from other types of employee recognition initiatives. These specifically address physical and mental well-being from a holistic perspective.

According to Gallup, despite the substantial investments that many companies make in well-being programs, there’s still a disconnect. The reasons can be many but one of the most common issues is a failure to understand how well-being and performance are closely intertwined. Below are some examples.

A Supportive Work Culture Equals Fertile Ground for Productivity

Companies that have succeeded in integrating the concept of community into the workplace environment have proven to be more productive than those without a reward or recognition scheme in place.

This can be attributed to the fact that employees who feel they are part of something important tend to excel in their roles.

So, let’s take a quick look at the data!

According to the latest employment statistics, employees who are engaged at work are 22% more productive than employees who are not engaged. And in turn, companies with stronger engagement levels are 21% more profitable.

A strong, supportive work culture checks the boxes in four distinct areas:

In response to the challenges posed by the pandemic, companies are now placing a premium on employee well-being.

And so should you.

Recognizing the toll of continuous remote work on mental health, organizations are implementing targeted strategies to foster a healthy work-life balance.

These include, for example:

  • It’s a culture of belonging

  • It’s a strong promoter of healthy work-life balance habits

  • It keeps the boundaries between work and personal life separated

  • It has an optimized workspace that contributes to a positive atmosphere

Big Benefits for Businesses 

The positive impact of employee health programs

There are plenty of benefits to a successful employee health program. Numerous studies confirm that the positive impact heightened employee well-being has on the big three – productivity, engagement, and creativity – cannot be understated.

Enhanced Performance, Increased Productivity

Research carried out by Zippia found that employee wellness plans have resulted in 84% of employers reporting higher productivity. There is a direct correlation between increased productivity and enhanced performance. Happy employees are more focused, animated, and motivated, leading to fewer mistakes and better project results.

The same study shows that 69% of employees would work harder if they felt more appreciated. 37% of employees consider recognition the most important factor when it comes to job satisfaction. This coincides with Gallup’s research indicating that wellness plans lead to 89% of employees being more engaged and satisfied with work.

Improved Employee Retention, Reduced Turnover

A visual representation of different wellness initiatives

A holistic approach to wellness in the workplace can result in a boosted employee retention rate by 5%.

It may not sound like much, but when you add to the equation the fact that the overall cost of employee turnover is over $1 trillion, well, that small percentage can make a big difference.

Workplace wellness programs help keep turnover costs low because they keep employees happy and loyal to their companies. As a result, your employees become effective advocates, promoting their workplace to others and potentially attracting new talent to the team.

A Healthier Workforce, Reduced Costs

Organizations that focus on well-being in the workplace can reduce absenteeism and healthcare costs by millions of dollars per year. There’s an estimated $20 million in lost opportunity for every 10,000 employees who struggle at work.

By investing in better employee health, you can effectively turn those costs around with a stronger and more resilient workforce.

Healthier employees are less susceptible to stress and fatigue, which helps them sustain high levels of performance over time. It’s a classic win-win situation!

Partnering with Your Employees

Trying to implement an employee wellness program without the input and feedback of the people who are the target of the program can set you up for a miserable outcome.

Instead, make them part of the process! It sends a powerful signal to your workforce that they are a valuable asset and their well-being matters.

Gallup has identified seven catalysts that employers and HR managers can use to support the process of crafting a solid employee program. These catalysts are in the form of questions that span seven areas of well-being:

  1. Development

  2. Recognition

  3. Communication

  4. Incentives

  5. Events

  6. Rules and Guidelines

  7. Facilities

The concept of focusing on specific elements (or areas) is based on a series of key questions to answer.

The exact framing of these questions can differ in accordance with your own organization’s culture and values, but here are some examples in the vein of the aforementioned Gallup study:

  • Development: Does your current employee recognition strategy include well-being goals?

  • Recognition: Does your organization celebrate the successes of its employees?

  • Communication: Does your organization promote transparent communication? Are the messages of its leaders consistent with a high-performing, wellness-oriented work culture?

  • Incentives: Does the organization create opportunities for participation in results-oriented activities? Do those activities promote creativity and innovation?

  • Events: Do they build awareness and aim to change behaviors that affect the company culture negatively?

  • Rules and Guidelines: Do your company policies work for or against a healthy working environment?

  • Facilities: Does your office space provide opportunities to connect with the outdoors? Does it promote a collaborative environment?

Health and Wellness Benefits for Employees: 3 Key Initiatives to Get You Started

Employees in a fitness class

A comprehensive wellness program includes physical fitness, mental health resources, and work-life balance support. Essentially, it creates a culture that thinks of wellness as vital fuel for performance.

1. Physical Fitness Resources

When employees are healthy, they also have the energy to become more productive. So how about offering a corporate gym membership? If your organization doesn’t have an on-site gym available, consider partnering up with a local gym to offer free or discounted memberships. Another solution is a nice gift card with wellness benefits.

Another way to promote physical activity is through targeted initiatives, like a cycle-to-work program or company-wide fitness challenges.

There’s so much positivity to squeeze out of this! For example, encouraging employees to participate in a cycle-to-work scheme promotes a healthier lifestyle, and it also reduces carbon emissions. Joint fitness challenges also foster team spirit and a shared goal of physical wellness.

2. Mental Health Support

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, nearly 69% of Millennials and 81% of Gen Zers have left their jobs for mental health reasons. 91% of respondents participating in that same study believed companies should support mental health.

Stress, anxiety, and burnout affect mental well-being. Employers who care about mental health in the workplace do so in a variety of ways.

Here are some examples:

  • Paid sick leave

  • Mental health days

  • Paid time off for mental health

  • Mindfulness programs

3. A Flexible Working Environment

Offering flexible working arrangements is another way of helping employees reach a more harmonious work-life balance. Workplace flexibility means providing conditions that adapt work to lifestyle.

Some examples are:

  • Flexible hours

  • Remote work

  • Telecommuting

  • Hybrid work

To learn more about how to give your employees recognition in a flexible working environment, check out our guide to engaging remote, hybrid, and in-office employees here.

A Culture of Well-being in the Workplace

Happy employees in a positive work atmosphere

Taking a holistic approach to well-being isn’t just about offering gym cards and vegan snacks at the office. It’s about how people feel physically, mentally, and emotionally when they clock in in the morning and clock out in the afternoon.

A successful employee wellness program covers a lot of territory – from financial well-being to physical and mental health.

Remember, you're not just supporting a healthier workforce – you’re building a culture of resilience, collaboration, and performance.

Ready? Let’s do it!


About GoGift

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