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20 out of the box wellness ideas for employees

Forget the stale "eat an apple a day" advice. In corporate America today, true wellness goes far beyond the occasional fruit snack or lunchtime yoga class. It's time to ditch the conventional and embrace a holistic, innovative approach to employee well-being. Get ready to think outside the cubicle and discover wellness ideas to energize your team, boost productivity, and cultivate a thriving workplace culture.

From hybrid work options to financial benefits, this blog aims to provide insights on implementing strategies at your company to maximize your employees' potential. We’ll explore innovative approaches encompassing various aspects of well-being—physical, mental, social, and financial—to support your employees in thriving in all areas of their lives.

Get ready to be inspired, challenged, and maybe even slightly shocked (in the best way possible) as we redefine what it means to be truly well in the modern workplace. 

1. On-Site Fitness Classes

Consider hosting on-site fitness classes a couple of times monthly or quarterly to motivate employees to stay active during the work day. These classes could include various options, such as yoga, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or even fun dance classes to cater to different preferences. Providing these opportunities during the workday cannot only help increase engagement and productivity but also help employees fit a workout into their busy schedules! 

2. Standing Desks and Ergonomic Workstations

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand sitting in a chair for more than a few hours at a time. Introducing standing desks or ergonomic workstations in certain office areas can greatly improve employees' working experience.

3. Walking Meetings

I always come up with my best ideas when I'm not in the office—shocking, I know. Whether I'm running or walking, the common denominator is that my best ideas seem to come to me when I'm doing something active. It's actually scientifically proven that simply walking increases creativity and helps facilitate better, more honest conversations, according to Baylor University.

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Consider incorporating walking meetings more often with employees. You'll likely encounter fewer distractions, generate better ideas, and have more productive conversations.

4. Meditation and Mindfulness Sessions

Mental health is an often overlooked yet crucial aspect of overall employee wellness in the workplace. Employers should consider providing access to meditation apps such as Headspace or Calm. Additionally, hosting mindfulness or meditation sessions within the workplace can significantly contribute to creating a more supportive and mindful environment. These initiatives assist employees in managing stress levels and promote a culture of mindfulness across the entire company.

5. Stress Management Workshops

Companies can bring in a certified stress management expert to conduct interactive workshops teaching employees practical techniques like:

  • Mindfulness meditation: Guided sessions on mindfulness practices, such as body scans, breath awareness, and present-moment focus, to cultivate resilience and reduce stress reactivity.
  • Time management strategies: Tips on prioritizing tasks, setting boundaries, and planning effectively to minimize overwhelm and increase productivity.
  •  Workplace communication skills: Role-playing scenarios to improve assertiveness, conflict resolution, and collaboration among colleagues.

Workshops could incorporate experiential elements like yoga sessions, journaling prompts, and personal stress assessments. Post-workshop, employees receive digital resources and reminders to integrate learned techniques into their daily routines.

6. Confidential Counseling Services

Break the mental health stigma with an innovative approach to employee well-being: confidential counseling services prioritizing privacy and empowerment. Life is stressful, and the need for accessible mental health support has never been greater. Forward-thinking companies are stepping up and offering a discreet, judgment-free haven where employees can navigate life's challenges with the guidance of licensed professionals. These services include one-on-one therapy sessions, group counseling, and specialized support for issues like anxiety, depression, and relationship struggles, providing a safe space for personal growth and healing.

7. Healthy Snack Options in the Office

Introducing a variety of healthy snack choices in the office can significantly impact your employees' well-being. By making nutritious options readily available, you can improve their overall health, boost their energy levels, and promote sustained productivity throughout the workday.

8. Nutritional Workshops and Cooking Demos

Companies can consider offering nutritional workshops and cooking demonstrations as a unique wellness initiative for employees. These interactive sessions can provide valuable insights and practical skills to promote healthier eating habits and overall well-being. By offering nutritional workshops and cooking demos, companies can empower their employees with the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier food choices, potentially leading to increased energy levels, improved mood, and better overall well-being. These events can also foster a sense of community and camaraderie among colleagues as they learn and cook together.

9. Discounts at nearby restaurants and coffee shops

If your office is located near restaurants and coffee shops, consider partnering with them to offer:

  • Discounted healthy meal options or meal combos for employees.
  • Free black coffee or loyalty programs for coffee purchases.
  • Catering partnerships for company events and office meals.

These collaborations provide affordable and accessible options for nutritious choices. They also encourage employees to support local businesses while promoting a sense of community within the area. Negotiating discounts or complimentary items can incentivize healthier eating habits and boost employee morale.

10. Green Spaces and Indoor Plants

Having green spaces nearby or indoor plants in the office will greatly boost your employees' moods. 

Create outdoor green spaces like gardens or seating areas surrounded by greenery for employees to take breaks and connect with nature. Introduce lush, low-maintenance plants throughout the office to enhance air quality, provide a soothing visual element, and promote tranquility.

According to the National Institute of Health, exposure to nature and greenery has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve cognitive function, and boost overall mental well-being. Integrating green spaces and indoor plants demonstrates a commitment to nurturing employee health.

11. Natural Light Optimization

Maximize using natural light in the workplace by strategically designing office spaces with large windows, skylights, or light shelves. Natural light reduces energy costs and provides numerous health benefits for employees. Studies show exposure to natural light can improve mood, increase productivity, and regulate circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep quality. Incorporate adjustable window shades or blinds to control glare and minimize eye strain.

12. Air Quality Improvement Initiatives

​​Poor indoor air quality can contribute to various health issues, including headaches, fatigue, and respiratory problems. Implement initiatives to improve air quality, such as installing high-efficiency air filters, increasing ventilation rates, and introducing indoor plants that naturally purify the air. Consider conducting regular air quality assessments and addressing any potential sources of indoor air pollution.

13. Flexible Work Hours and Remote Work Options

Offer employees the flexibility to structure their workday to align with their personal needs and preferences. Flexible work hours can help employees better manage their work-life balance, reduce stress, and improve overall job satisfaction. Additionally, provide remote work options that allow employees to work from home or alternative locations, which can minimize commute times and promote a healthier work-life integration.

14. Family-Friendly Policies

Implement policies that support employees' family responsibilities, such as on-site childcare facilities, lactation rooms for nursing mothers, or flexible schedules for attending to family needs. These initiatives demonstrate a commitment to supporting employees' personal lives and can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

15. Sabbaticals and Extended Leave Programs

Consider offering sabbatical or extended leave programs that allow employees to take an extended period of time off for personal or professional development. These programs can allow employees to recharge, pursue passions, or engage in educational or volunteer activities, ultimately enhancing their overall well-being and preventing burnout.

16. Team Building Activities and Events

Foster a strong sense of community and camaraderie within the workplace by organizing team-building activities and events. These can range from outdoor adventures, like hiking or camping trips, to indoor events like cooking classes or trivia nights. These types of activities promote collaboration, communication, and bonding among colleagues, contributing to a positive and supportive work environment. 

17. Employee Resource Groups

Encourage the formation of employee resource groups (ERGs) based on shared interests, backgrounds, or experiences. ERGs provide a platform for employees to connect, share perspectives, and support one another. They can also contribute to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace culture while promoting personal and professional development opportunities.

18. Mentorship Programs

Implement mentorship programs that pair experienced employees with those seeking career guidance and support. Mentors can share their knowledge, provide valuable feedback, and offer advice on navigating professional challenges. These programs foster personal growth and contribute to a culture of learning and knowledge sharing within the organization.

19. Financial Planning Workshops

Partner with financial advisors or experts to offer financial planning and management workshops. These workshops can cover topics such as budgeting, saving for retirement, managing debt, and investing. By equipping employees with financial literacy skills, you can help alleviate stress and anxiety related to personal finances, ultimately contributing to their overall well-being.

20. Retirement Savings Programs

Offer competitive retirement savings programs, such as 401(k) plans or pension plans, to help employees prepare for their financial futures. Provide educational resources and guidance on maximizing these programs, ensuring employees understand the importance of long-term financial planning and can make informed decisions about their retirement savings.

Conclusion

When it comes to supporting employee well-being, it's time to think outside the box. From family-friendly benefits to financial literacy workshops and remote work flexibility, this comprehensive list offers a fresh perspective on wellness initiatives.

While traditional programs have their merits, we encourage you to explore these unconventional ideas and embrace a few that resonate with your company's culture and goals. The key concepts presented span physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial dimensions, recognizing the interconnectedness of these aspects in fostering a truly thriving workforce.

We don’t expect you to implement all these ideas, but we hope you implement a few and see how they help your employees and your business overall! Tailor them to your organization's needs and actively involve employees in the process to ensure engagement and success. Investing in unconventional wellness initiatives is an investment in your company's long-term resilience and growth and its most valuable asset—your people.