Employee Wellness Programs that Will Help Your Company Succeed

Employee wellness benefits that address the employees physical and mental needs improve employee retention and productivity.

Man stressed while working on laptop

Employee wellness programs and benefits have become quite the hot topic in the last few years. Since the onset of the pandemic, more and more employees have been looking for ways to lead healthier lives. This, coupled with the fact that the great resignation has led to thousands of people looking for new work has made it so that finding and offering creative benefits packages that include wellness perks is a top priority for many companies.

When we realized that employee wellness programs were a huge part of many people and culture initiatives, we started asking around to find out exactly what employees are looking for. We asked several job hunters or employees what they would most like to see in their companies offered benefits, and how often that played a part in their decisions to apply for and stay at a company. Several employees told us that they grew more interested in positions when they heard about benefits like mental health days, companion care benefits, and gym stipends. We even had one employee, Sarah, tell us she solely made her decision on her job choice based on a few of the wellness perks her company offered, because she knew that if she was less stressed, she would be a better employee.

Wellness benefits are programs and practices that are put into place to preserve, improve, and promote mental and physical health in the workplace. They supplement standard healthcare options, easing workplace stress, productivity gaps, and burnout.

Making sure that each of our employees has the tools they need to succeed is very important to us at Papa, which is why our People & Culture team offers a variety of wellness perks for our employees. We’re sure you are already doing the same, but if you’re looking for new ideas, read on to learn about the wellness benefits that we think will help both company and employee to be prepared, informed, and ready to succeed in light of changing employment trends.

Stress Reduction Programs

Chronic stress is linked to burnout in the workforce, and also can lead to chronic issues with a person's mental and physical health. Stress leads to poor work performance, an excess of absences, and sometimes even to an employee having to choose between their own mental and physical health and their job. The good news is that companies can do something about employee stress. By making some adjustments to your company's health and wellness offerings, stress can be reduced and performance can increase. Long term stress has been associated with the following:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Physical body pain
  • Anger and/or mood swings
  • Inability to focus or maintain attention to detail
  • Forgetfulness
  • Headaches
  • Poor work performance 

Here are some great, and easy, ways to reduce stress at your workplace

  • Offer group-guided meditation.
  • Connect with people. Make it a priority to get to know your employees and find out what they need.
  • Train employees in relaxation techniques like deep breathing or mindfulness exercises.
  • Instill a mandatory “computer break” for 10 minutes every two hours and request that all employees turn off computers and relax.
  • Have some fun in the office. Play ping-pong, do a group happy hour, or go on a hike
  • Teach your employees (and yourself!) that sometimes it's okay to say no
  • Allow for flexible schedules–if an employee needs to go home for a two-nap in the middle of the day and then work later, let them!
  • Give employees a change of scenery–offer work lounges, swinging chairs, or harkness tables as workspaces

Exercise Programs

Man stretching his body on yoga mat during online fitness class.

Mental and physical health go hand in hand. If you have poor mental health you are likely to have physical health issues and vice versa. With this in mind, helping employees to take care of both their physical and mental health is key to a good employee wellness program. This is especially important if your company has a lot of desk work or sitting time throughout the day. Even a little movement here and there can help your employee’s productivity and attention to detail, while also keeping them in a more creative headspace.

Exercise programs are beneficial to the company at large, and some options are fairly easy to implement. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services adults should be getting 150-300 minutes a week of aerobic exercise and participate in muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. This is not happening in most people’s schedules. Here are a few ideas to help your employees get moving:

  • Build an onsite gym. This may seem like a huge expenditure, but a small room with some exercise equipment gives employees the opportunity to spend some time in the gym as their schedule allows.
  • Leading virtual fitness classes such as yoga, pilates, weight lifting. One company we know offers company-wide chair yoga every day for 10 minutes at lunch time.
  • Set aside some time for employees to get outside for a walk, throw a frisbee outside, or go for a quick run or bike ride.
  • Use fitness-type prizes as incentives.Try giving an Apple Watch to the employee of the month or a fitbit to the top salesperson.
  • Offer group fitness challenges. See which employee can take the most steps in a two week period, or who can commit to 50 sit-ups or 20 push-ups a day. Apps like MoveSpring will sync with Fitbits and Apple Watches and will allow you to offer company-wide challenges for prizes or bragging rights.

Mental health is part of wellness too!

As we grow and learn we've become more aware of the way our minds and bodies work. It has become abundantly clear how dire making sure our mental health is a priority. This is something we actively need to stay on top of so we can be our best selves; for not only our own happiness, but for our families and for the workplace. There are a lot of different ways that companies can address mental health issues. Remember, everyone is different and has different needs, so it would be good to make sure you have a variety of programs available. Some ideas to get started are:

  • Offer mental health days offered in addition to traditional holidays, vacation days, or PTO days.
  • Require or recommend brain breaks throughout the day. This can be as easy as giving employees ten minutes to listen to music, draw, stretch, go for a quick walk, or even just hang out with a coworker without “talking shop.”
  • Include counseling and therapy coverage included in health insurance benefits.
  • Provide mental health education. 
  • Offer an employee assistance program for when an employee has a crisis.
  • Promote a healthy work/life balance. (Yes, this means for you as a company leader, too!)
  • Help employees to connect to others with team building activities.
  • Offer aid and assistance to employees who carry large burdens. This can be as simple as flexible scheduling or offering caregiver benefits.

Easing the Weight of the “Second Shift” 

Portrait of African-American man using laptop while working at home with kids playing in background, copy space

First, what is the “second shift”? It's the extra work that often comes from caregiving responsibilities that more than 73% of our workforce adds to their regular work week. The second shift affects nearly everyone, but for working parents, people who have elderly or chronically ill family members, and those who need more income to survive the ever-growing cost of living and caregiving, it can be brutal. 

There are programs offered to companies to help employees sustain a life that is more manageable and wont wear them out completely, while still maintaining the quality of care for their families. Here are some ways that caregiver benefits can support employees who may be feeling the weight of second shifts.

  • Help with transportation to doctor appointments or to run errands.
  • Serve as companions for older adults. Our Papa Pals play games, do puzzles, go for a walk and provide companionship.
  • Help prepare simple meals or do grocery shopping.
  • Do light house cleaning or repairs of safety hazards.
  • Help with respite child care and even tutor on homework.

Wellness Perks Mean Success for Both You And Your Team

The more effort you give to take care of your employees, the more effort your employees will return to you. Hopefully, you found some new ideas for much sought-after employee wellness benefits and perks that you can implement into your workplace as a standard practice for your employees and your company as a whole. By offering wellness perks, you can ensure that your company is a top choice when people are looking for a long-term workplace.