How to implement a wellness program in the workplace
By: Mady Peterson
Self-care is a bit of a buzzword these days, which can leave the true meaning behind the concept of holistic wellness lost in the shuffle. Now, corporations are leaning into the idea that personal health and professional success are inextricably linked.
Learning the ins and outs of implementing wellness programs in the workplace could be exactly what your organization needs to prioritize the well-being of employees in a way that also positions your company for long-term success.
What is a workplace wellness program?
Workplace wellness programs are initiatives focused on helping companies infuse well-being into their workplace to ultimately help employees improve their emotional, financial, physical and work well-being. Modern iterations of these programs build on the corporate gym memberships and weight loss challenges of the past to include strategies for more holistic “big picture” goals such as increasing gratitude, decreasing stress and preventing burnout.
What elements of well-being should you focus on first? Who should own corporate well-being programs in your company? How can you tap into the massive well-being tech market to achieve your strategy?
While employees could easily be left to their own devices and encouraged to pursue healthy habits outside of work, incorporating wellness into day-to-day operations at work comes with its own set of perks.
Given that 48% of employees report experiencing high or extreme stress — a 7% increase from pre-pandemic levels in 2019 — there’s a clear need for a more holistic look at what makes employees not only live but thrive. Add that 72% of employees in 2022 reported burnout (30% more versus the previous year), and it’s vital that employers take the time and money to invest in their employees if they expect dedication, focus and passion in return.
Based on this data, it’s important to have a solid employee well-being strategy in place before you begin implementing a wellness program at work. We recommend checking out our free guide to simplify the steps to a successful employee-wellbeing strategy.
How to implement a wellness program at work
A comprehensive, holistic wellness program is designed for two purposes. The first is to create awareness, encouraging employees to take health and wellness seriously and be more conscious of how the choices they make can influence their mental, physical, work and emotional health. The second purpose is to provide those employees with tools and opportunities that should make it easier to adopt and then maintain a healthier lifestyle. In doing so, your organization stands to benefit from substantial reductions in burnout and turnover — a more important goal than ever in a post-COVID economy.
Here’s expert advice on how to implement a wellness program in the workplace:
Get to know your organization
The most effective wellness programs in the workplace are tailored to the needs and makeup of each specific workplace. Before you decide which kinds of programs your workplace should include, you need to assess what your employees need and how any existing measures have played out since being implemented.
What health initiatives are already in place?
Are those programs in use? Why or why not?
What do your employees want out of a wellness program?
What kind of scheduling would be preferred by employees? In other words, when would programs get the most use (before work, after work, during lunch breaks, etc.)?
Where can you realistically host wellness events? Can you incorporate off-site locations with special deals for employees, or does everything need to be provided remotely or on-site?
Some answers can be found through observation or by accessing data that objectively spells out whether gym memberships were used and how many people attended weekly free yoga sessions. But an employee assessment, such as the Limeade Well-Being Assessment will give you a comprehensive measurement of your employees’ holistic well-being, including emotional, physical, financial and work well-being. Pulse surveys and listening tools are also valuable ways to gain insight into your workplace environment.
It’s also crucial to consult with leadership long before you’re ready to pitch. Gaining a thorough understanding of possibilities and limitations will prevent you from wasting time considering options that are logistically difficult or against HR policies while also giving you new options to consider (a manager’s connection to a meditation app, for instance).
Prepare your pitch and ensure top-to-bottom involvement
A wellness program that exists in name only and without leadership support is not a program that’s set up for success.
If you’re a mid-level employee attempting to petition for or design a wellness program, getting upper management enthusiastic about the project should be priority number one. Their involvement and excitement will play a huge role in whether your plan ever gets off the ground, but it also matters in terms of how much funding you get, how visible the program is after launch and whether C-suite leaders are leading by example or treating the program as an afterthought.
Before you pitch:
Know what you want to achieve
Incorporate the employee feedback and requests you’ve collected
Have a budget in mind or at least a rough amount and estimated breakdown of where/how those funds would be used
Attend local wellness events or engage in online research and virtual seminars to get ideas on what’s available and which subtopics are most popular
Forming a wellness committee can help streamline this process and keep the planning, promotion and implementation stages from becoming overwhelming. This committee should consist of representatives from as many employment levels and departments as is feasible. This is the best way to ensure the strategy behind your employee wellness program is aligned with the company’s values and core mission.
The committee should have its own mission statement too. This could be as simple as declaring a broad objective, but your plan should also include specifics such as how often you’ll all meet, what milestones you want to achieve and when and what the decision-making process will be when it’s time to launch a new offering or tweak existing programming. Experts at Limeade can assist you in developing this strategy.
Keep minutes as a record of each meeting. You’ll always have that play-by-play as a reminder of what’s been discussed and decided.
Connect with partners in your well-being program
If you work with an experienced employee well-being company like Limeade, you not only have the benefit of over 16 years of experience crafting award-winning wellness programs, you also have access to our partner network of trusted brands that can enhance program offerings to your team.
This allows you to seamlessly integrate your preferred content, benefits and partners to create a program specifically tailored to your company’s unique culture. But what does that look like in practice?
For employers, our proven solution providers streamline management and increase the use of all programs through communication, machine learning, program design and more.
For employees, personalized programs and activities create a relevant experience for employees, while seamlessly integrated partner programs shape an intuitive user journey.
For partners, working with Limeade improves adoption, and the simple, modern API-based integration ensures that customers never have to do the heavy lifting.
Taking advantage of the existing partnerships within your well-being program allows you to get the most out of your investment while the ease of access to these extra perks encourages employees to reap the benefits.
Design and implement the actual program
Once you’ve established your goals, surveyed participants and leadership and taken stock of both in-house and outside resources, it’s time to put together your wellness game plan.
View this plan like a road map and build in plenty of opportunities for unexpected side trips. You want to have a framework that’s strategic and comprehensive, but there will also be new ideas that emerge and deserve time and space on the company schedule.
Implementation will depend in part on the well-being program you’ve selected, too. For customers working with Limeade, implementation occurs in three key phases:
Discover and design. The first phase of implementation involves actual hands-on use of Limeade software, allowing you and your team to learn firsthand what works best for you. During this time, we’ll work with you to develop a strategy that best meets your goals.
Implement and build. From here, goals are confirmed and your customized experience is built by the team at Limeade. Your team will be provided with access to our custom build so you can watch as it develops.
Launch and learn. At and after launch, we will work in tandem with your team to make sure that your workplace wellness experience matches the goals you’d laid out, updating you on new knowledge from the Limeade Institute as discoveries are made.
Implementation is a collaborative process, and one that seeks to ensure that your organization’s needs are met. With Limeade, we support you, so you can support your employees — our dedicated team of experts are always available to help tweak and refine the process.
Offer incentives for participation — and participation as a reward
Recognition is known to boost employee engagement, increase productivity and loyalty and lead to better retention rates. According to a survey conducted by Bonusly, “Highly engaged organizations are far more likely to recognize employees for a job well done. While 71% of highly engaged organizations recognize employees for a job well done, the same is true for only 41% of less engaged organizations.” Furthermore, you want your employees to have intrinsic motivation when completing tasks, such as enjoyment, purpose or self-expression.
One of the benefits of implementing a workplace wellness program is that you have yet another way to incentivize your team. If your rewards program runs on a point system, give points for attending certain wellness-related events, joining activities such as health screenings or team steps challenges, to drive participation.
And, as in all things, motivation matters. A company with a well-being policy that seeks only to control employees and reduce costs will probably be seen as punitive and overreaching. If your company instead embraces a broader employee well-being strategy that is more holistic, employees are likelier to receive it as coming from a place of care.
Evaluate progress, re-examine objectives and adjust as needed
Finally, ensure your committee is checking in on programming regularly. Identify the program elements that aren’t gelling as well. Replace them with other options, and test again. This is how you’ll hone the program itself and enjoy the benefits of corporate wellness programs.
How Limeade can help companies implement wellness programs in the workplace
Looking for more help to bring well-being into your workplace? Limeade Well-Being is a refreshing way to infuse well-being into work — to help you amplify care, drive participation, and put essential benefits employees need front and center.
After onboarding Limeade, companies reported that 48% of their employees had upgraded their well-being category from “neutral/suffering” to “thriving.” And 56% of employees who had previously reported unmanageable stress levels said Limeade helped decrease that load.
To see how Limeade can support your desire to drive awareness, increase engagement of benefits and resources and so much more, book a demo today.