4 Tips on How to Create Company Wellness Programs that Work

When was the last time you took a nap during office hours? Chances are that you did it not so long ago, as 51.8 percent of Americans admit to napping at work, according to a recent survey. Okay, let me ask you this: when was the last time you took a nap during office hours with a 25-foot, 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium arched above your head?

This is what Zappos, an online shoe retailer, offers its employees. The company has a dedicated “nap room” where people can enjoy vibrant saltwater fish swimming over their heads and take a nap in a massage chair. According to their website, it took them eight weeks to construct this amazing nap room to provide their employees with an incredible opportunity to refresh during work hours by napping.

Why would a company go through all the trouble of installing a huge aquarium instead of a conference room and paying tens of thousands of dollars to allow their staff to nap at work?

The answer is actually really simple: to increase the wellbeing of their employees. “We look out for our employees’ quality of life, and providing space and time for naps is just another way for us to take care of the people who work there,” Sleep.org quoted a representative of a U.S.-based company, as saying.

Many companies around the world realize the importance of fostering employee wellbeing, and design special company wellness programs to achieve this goal. It makes perfect sense since people are the backbone of any business, thus they’re that critical element that allows an organization to develop and thrive. After all, a special wellness program will increase employee motivation and employee retention.

Besides, with the costs related to employee disengagement estimated at $550 billion in the U.S. alone, companies need to find new ways to reduce workplace stress and change the situation by transforming the wellbeing of their workforces.

In this article, let’s see how can also create a unique employee wellbeing program and support the health of your employees.

1. Set Goals that Benefit Your Employees

Have you worked on boring projects that had nothing to do with your interests? Of course, you have. We all have. And chances are good that we didn’t do our best because, well, those projects were largely irrelevant to our interests or simply boring.

Can you blame people for that? No, according to Sir Richard Branson. In a recent interview, he highlighted the importance of purpose-driven work for increasing wellbeing of employees. Accordingly, people who work on projects they perceive to be irrelevant to them aren’t as great as they could be if the tasks they had to perform were interesting to them.

The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated. People want to work on projects that mean something to them and be surrounded by colleagues who treat them with the respect they deserve. If all companies took this approach then employee wellbeing ratings would be much higher,” explained Branson.

So the takeaway here is clear: show your employees that they’re valued by giving them purpose-driven work.

>> Recommended reading: How to Create a Culture of Ownership Among Your Workforce

2. Make Truly Unique Company Wellness Programs

One of the biggest mistakes you can make here is to try an employee wellbeing program that you downloaded online. Undoubtedly, you’ll never be able to reach your goals because that kind of company wellness programs wouldn’t be tailored to the needs and interests of your workforce.

To avoid making this mistake, always collect employee feedback and design your own program from there. For example, you can ask them what they’re interested in to make sure they’ll be interested in new projects and initiatives.

“When we asked employees in our translation company about what they would love to do, a lot of them chose yoga,” says Jenna Mark Paige, a talent acquisition expert from The Word Point. “This was perfect because yoga is known to improve concentration and decision-making skills.”

The choice of initiatives thus depends on your workforce, so try to start by asking them whether they would like to have a healthy snack bar or if they want to participate in a certain kind of sports.

For example, maybe you’ll find that many of your employees love the idea of getting together to watch a sports game. In fact, one U.S. survey found that 55 percent of male employees aged 18-34 loved bonding with colleagues by “keeping up with various sports events.”

3. Time to Hit the Gym

Regular gym visits are one of the best ways to keep the body healthy and energized, and many companies provide exercise options for their employees. A Sweden-based apparel fashion brand Bjorn Borg, for example, has Sports Hour, a mandatory hour specifically dedicated to exercise, and the company’s CEO, Henrik Bunge, isn’t an exception when it comes to attendance. In fact, Bunge prefers to be called Head Coach and lives a very active lifestyle to encourage his followers to do the same.

The Swedish brand provides workshops, fitness tests, and meetings for employees to provide maximum opportunities to exercise and be smart about it. In fact, Harvard Business Review has recently published an article where they described that Bjorn Borg employees had squat and push-up competitions between departments as well as played ping-pong during office hours.

The results of Bunge’s initiatives and fitness-centered culture were amazing, according to HBR:

  • Increase in employee engagement by 72 percent
  • 27 percent increase in net sales.


So, consider allowing your employees to visit the gym on a regular basis for training sessions, and remember: healthier employees equal high productivity. The example of Bjorn Borg certainly supports that.

>> Recommended reading: Learn about the current workplace trends and find out

4. Hire a Healthcare Expert

Having a dedicated healthcare expert has a number of benefits for your employees. For example, they could get quality healthcare assistance and advice much quicker and won’t have to deal with the inconveniences of visiting a healthcare facility.

Besides, healthcare experts can help employees to manage their chronic diseases, adopt healthy habits in daily life, and get more information on reducing stress etc. As a result, a company with healthier employees can enjoy lower health expenses and keep workplace engagement and productivity high.

In a commentary on CNBC, Brian Moynihan, chairman and CEO of Bank of America, wrote that his company encourages employees and their spouses to complete a voluntary health screening and health questionnaire and expands the use of health coaches and confidential counseling.

Those who participate in company wellness programs get their own, personalized report and health profile as well as the recommendations on improving their health. By taking regular screenings, the employees get all the information they need to control over their health and improving their overall wellbeing.

Investments in employee health bring a lot of benefits. For example, the employees who use an employer’s assistance to take control of their health have a good reason to stay, thus reducing the turnover as well as a lot of related expenditures.

“It’s our responsibility as business leaders to invest in the health and wellbeing of our employees,” says Moynihan. “Company wellness programs are a great way to do that.”

Consider hiring a healthcare expert and conducting voluntary, confidential health screenings for your employees, and you’ll give them a huge reason to stay with you.

Employees are Your Greatest Asset

It goes without saying that taking care of employees is one of the most important goals for any company. In fact, it’s a must for high retention and success in ever-increasing competition, so having an employee wellness program is something you should definitely consider.

There are many ways to go about this, whether it’s taking a nap or playing ping-pong during office hours, but the critical thing to remember is that your employees are the best to ask what kind of company wellness programs they would appreciate to have. Hopefully, these tips and examples have inspired you to start promoting health and wellbeing in your workplace!

>> Recommended reading: Tips to Increase Your Team’s Productivity


Pauline Farris speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian and currently she works as a translator at the TheWordPoint translation service. She travelled the world to immerse herself in the new cultures and learn languages. Today she is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division.

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