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Employee wellness programs: 26+ best ideas and examples

Dive into innovative and effective strategies for boosting employee well-being and productivity. From fitness challenges to mental health support, discover a diverse range of programs that cater to every aspect of employee wellness.

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In this article, we explore practical strategies and ideas that can help you create a workplace culture centered around employee well-being.

Being mindful of employee well-being is crucial for maintaining a happy and productive workforce. This is easier said than done due to the diversity of employee needs, each of which must be addressed in a cost-efficient way.

Employee wellness programs are a method of combining wellness benefits into plans that are easier to manage and provide. In the rest of this article, we will explore a variety of such plans, explaining how they work, why they’re useful, and what’s the best way to implement them in your organization.

Let’s explore the 27 best wellness program ideas and examples.

What is an employee wellness program?

An employee wellness program is a type of benefit designed to improve the health and well-being of your employees. Employee wellness programs typically include fitness coaching, mental health support, nutrition programs, preventive care measures, leisure activities, and other employer-sponsored initiatives that share the same goal.

What is the benefit of an employee wellness program?

Employer-sponsored wellness programs offer a wide range of benefits, including the following:

1. Improved physical health

Physical wellness programs contribute to the physical well-being of employees by promoting healthy habits, preventing illnesses, and managing chronic conditions through fitness activities, health screenings, and nutrition initiatives.

2. Enhanced mental well-being

Mental wellness programs seek to alleviate mental health concerns by providing stress management resources, counseling services, and mindfulness activities, fostering a positive work environment and reducing workplace stress.

3. Increased retention and job satisfaction

Wellness programs contribute to higher job satisfaction by creating a supportive workplace culture, recognizing employee well-being as a priority, and providing opportunities for social connections and personal development.

4. Increased productivity

Healthy and engaged employees are more productive. Wellness programs contribute to increased energy levels, better focus, and reduced absenteeism, which helps employees stay productive throughout the workday.

5. Enhanced employee engagement

Wellness initiatives create a sense of community and engagement among employees. Participating in wellness activities fosters a positive workplace culture, which is crucial for attracting top talent.

6. Reduced healthcare costs

By preventing illnesses, managing health risks, and promoting preventive care, employee wellness programs decrease healthcare costs for both employers and employees. Healthy employees typically incur fewer medical expenses over time.

How your business can design an employee wellness program

Wellness is a broad concept, and there are many ways to facilitate it within the workplace. Therefore, what works for some employees might not work for others.

As an employer, you’re incentivized to provide a variety of options, which is a tall order for most organizations due to the complexity of procuring multiple vendors.

There is also the issue of informing employees about the available options and facilitating access to those options in a streamlined way. Most companies run a huge overhead due to unwanted and unclaimed benefits, and to make matters worse, employees almost always end up unsatisfied.

The most streamlined, cost-efficient way to offer wellness benefits your employees will love and use is through a flexible benefits platform such as Forma. Forma’s flexible benefits software handles the complexity of running custom wellness programs at scale and, therefore, makes life easier for both employers and employees.

<span class="text-style-link text-color-blue" fs-mirrorclick-element="trigger" role="button">Talk to a Forma expert</span> and find out how to transform your organization’s wellness program via competitive benefits packages your employees will love.

Employee wellness program examples

1. Fitness challenges

Fitness challenges are organized events meant to encourage employees to partake in physical activities. From the employer’s perspective, fitness challenges are a good way to foster a workplace culture of health and wellness.

Regular exercise is proven to enhance physical health, reduce stress, and elevate overall productivity. Fitness challenges further employee engagement, teamwork, and camaraderie, creating a positive and energized work environment.

How to implement:

  • Initiate diverse challenges like step competitions, workout sessions, or group fitness classes.
  • Utilize wellness apps for tracking progress and motivation.
  • Incentivize employees to participate by offering and subsidizing Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs).

2. Nutrition workshops

Nutrition workshops are educational sessions focused on teaching employees about healthy eating habits, equipping them with the knowledge needed to make informed dietary choices.

A balanced diet contributes significantly to increased energy levels, improved focus, and overall well-being. Employer-sponsored nutrition workshops empower employees to make healthier food choices, lowering the risk of chronic diseases, leading to less sick leaves and higher productivity.

How to implement:

  • Host on-site or virtual workshops led by nutrition experts, covering topics like meal planning and label reading.
  • Subsidize healthy snacks in the workplace or provide nutritional counseling services.
  • Align incentives with LSAs to encourage ongoing adoption of healthier eating habits.

3. Mental health resources

Mental health resources encompass a range of services, from counseling and stress management workshops to mindfulness training and group therapy sessions. By hosting these mental health resources and services, you can support your employees’ emotional well-being.

Mental health is integral to overall wellness and productivity. Resources for stress reduction and counseling help employees cope with work-related pressures, leading to enhanced job satisfaction and reduced absenteeism.

How to implement:

  • Offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) providing confidential counseling services.
  • Conduct regular virtual stress management sessions and mindfulness workshops.
  • Integrate mental health benefits into pre-tax accounts for healthcare and wellness, to ensure comprehensive support.

4. Health screenings

Health screenings involve routine assessments of vital health metrics, such as blood pressure cholesterol levels, vision and hearing tests, etc., all aimed at identifying potential health issues.

Early detection through health screenings enables timely intervention, reducing healthcare costs and preventing more serious conditions. Regular screenings contribute to a proactive approach to employee health and well-being.

How to implement:

  • Organize on-site health screening events regularly, covering a range of metrics.
  • Facilitate access to virtual health screenings for remote employees.
  • Allocate funds from Healthcare FSAs or offer wellness reimbursements through health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to support participation.*

5. Ergonomic workstations

Ergonomic workstations involve the design of office spaces to minimize physical strain and discomfort, promoting a healthier and more comfortable work environment.

Proper ergonomics decrease the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, enhancing employee comfort, and boosting productivity. This is a huge perk in industries where work involves long sessions in front of the screen.

How to implement:

  • Provide adjustable desks, ergonomic chairs, and accessories to support good posture.
  • Offer remote employees stipends for ergonomic office furniture for home offices.
  • Allocate ergonomic-related expenses through Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to ensure a comprehensive approach to employee health and comfort.

6. Flexible work arrangements

Flexible work arrangements empower employees to determine when and where they work, promoting a dynamic work-life balance. This includes options like flextime, compressed workweeks, and remote work.

Such flexibility enhances job satisfaction, reduces burnout, and accommodates diverse personal needs. Employees experience increased autonomy, leading to higher morale and improved work-life integration. It is also one of the most sought-after perks for employees in dynamic industries such as software development, digital marketing, or customer service. If you’re seeking top talent to fill these positions, flexible working arrangements can be a huge boon to your recruitment strategy.

How to implement:

  • Implement flexible scheduling, remote work options, and staggered hours.
  • Offer LSAs that cover expenses related to remote work setups or wellness initiatives.
  • Provide guidelines for setting boundaries and expectations for remote work, ensuring balance and productivity.

7. Tobacco cessation programs

Tobacco cessation programs provide resources and support to employees aiming to quit smoking or using tobacco products. These programs often include counseling, nicotine replacement therapy, and support groups.

Smoking is one of those habits that is widespread, but with a lot of people expressing a desire to quit. Supporting people in their attempts to overcome tobacco addiction is sure to earn you points with health-conscious employees. And with improved respiratory health, your employees will be more productive, and less prone to work-related stress.

How to implement:

  • Offer counseling services, nicotine replacement therapy, and smoking cessation workshops.
  • Utilize FSAs to cover cessation program costs.
  • Promote awareness campaigns about the benefits of quitting and available support resources.

8. Finance coaching

Finance coaching involves educating employees about effective financial planning and management. You can offer seminars on topics such as budgeting, investment strategies, and debt management.

Financial uncertainty is one of the leading causes of stress in an economy where mass layoffs, high interest rates, and rising inflation are the norm. Coaching employees on how to be smart with their earnings is a great way to alleviate financial stress, enhance mental health, and improve job satisfaction.

How to implement:

  • Provide access to financial education resources and workshops.
  • Offer one-on-one sessions with financial advisors.
  • Integrate financial wellness benefits into LSAs.

9. Fitness memberships

Fitness memberships provide subsidized or discounted gym access for employees. This may include partnerships with local gyms or on-site fitness facilities.

A quick trip to the gym is often all it takes to relieve stress after a long workday. Encouraging and facilitating gym visits contributes to improved employee health, fitness, and well-being. It also reduces the risk of chronic conditions, ensuring that your employees stay healthy throughout the year.

How to implement:

  • Partner with local gyms for group discounts.
  • Reimburse employees for fitness memberships through LSAs.
  • Encourage participation through fitness challenges and tie achievements to LSAs for additional motivation.

10. Wellness challenges

Wellness challenges are a trendy way to foster a culture of positivity at the workplace. Wellness challenges typically involve organizing competitions or events that encourage employees to engage in health-promoting activities. These challenges can focus on various aspects such as physical activity, nutrition, or stress reduction.

While some employees find wellness challenges a bit silly, regular participation was proven to encourage team collaboration and enhance individual well-being. Wellness challenges are easy to incorporate in your benefits strategy, and they have a good return on investment, especially among employees with a more lighthearted mindset.

How to implement:

  • Design diverse challenges, addressing different wellness dimensions.
  • Utilize wellness apps for tracking and engagement.
  • Tie incentives to LSAs to encourage sustained participation.

11. Yoga and meditation classes

Yoga and meditation classes give employees the option to practice mindfulness, relaxation, and achieve spiritual well-being. During yoga classes employees can get educated about stress-reduction techniques, custom diets, and philosophical ideas they can apply in everyday life.

In terms of benefits, regular practice of yoga and meditation improves mental clarity, reduces stress, and enhances physical flexibility. Employees that practice yoga are less likely to fall pray to stress, injure themselves, or lash out against people.

How to implement:

  • Offer on-site or virtual classes led by certified instructors.
  • Provide resources for self-guided sessions.
  • Incentivize participation through Lifestyle Spending Accounts for wellness-related expenses.

12. Team building activities

The aim of team building activities is to enhance collaboration, communication, and camaraderie among employees. There is a great variety of activities that can range from camping trips and spa visits, to football matches and laser tag.

Team-building fosters a positive workplace culture, strengthens relationships, and improves overall teamwork. It is a staple of the modern workplace, and there are few companies that don’t offer team-building in some form. Indeed, employees by and large have come to expect it, so as an employer you’re incentivized to meet the demand if you want to attract talent to your organization.

How to implement:

  • Organize regular team-building events, considering diverse interests.
  • Facilitate both in-person and virtual activities for remote teams.
  • Align incentives with team achievements, utilizing LSAs for rewards.

13. On-site health clinics

On-site health clinics are dedicated medical facilities located within the workplace, providing employees with convenient access to a range of healthcare services, preventive screenings, and wellness programs.

On-site clinics play a pivotal role in promoting employee well-being by offering immediate medical attention, preventive care, and health education. This is especially the case for organizations that operate in high-risk industries such as mining, logging, or pharmacological development. Having an on-site clinic will lead to better health outcomes, reduced absenteeism, and extra piece of mind for workers.

How to implement:

  • Collaborate with healthcare providers to establish on-site clinics.
  • Offer routine health check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings.
  • Utilize HSAs or FSAs for clinic-related expenses.

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Additional examples of employee wellness programs

14. Shared parental leave

Shared parental leave is a progressive benefits policy that allows both parents to share a designated period of time away from work after the birth or adoption of a child. Policies such as these are crucial for promoting gender equality in parenting responsibilities.

Employers that offer shared parental leave recognize and support the evolving dynamics of modern families. By giving both parents some time-off to spend with the kids, you will help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance, and encourage equal participation in caregiving.

How to implement:

  • Develop a comprehensive shared parental leave policy.
  • Communicate the policy clearly to all employees.
  • Foster a supportive environment during the transition.

15. Free menstrual products

Offering free menstrual products ensures that essential items like pads are easily accessible to all female employees, supporting their health and comfort. This policy can extend to other items such as tampons, pain relievers for menstrual pain, and even spare clothes.

Programs like these are not as common as one would expect. Employers often pat themselves on the back for fostering gender equality in the workplace, but neglect to provide basic items such as menstrual pads for free. By supporting plans like these, you can tip the scales in your favor and gain the respect of top female talent.

How to implement:

  • Raise awareness about the availability of free hygiene products.
  • Extend the benefit to remote employees through stipends or home delivery.
  • Include hygiene product expenses in FSAs.

16. Pet-friendly spaces

Pet-friendly spaces are rooms or areas that permit employees to bring their pets, contributing to a positive and stress-relieving work environment. These spaces can also act as leisure areas or zones of relaxation, somewhere you can take a pause and drink your morning coffee in peace.

Pets in the workplace can reduce stress, increase morale, and improve overall job satisfaction, provided employees are on board with the idea of sharing space with animals. The animals have to be healthy, clean, and well-behaved, but they do wonders in making featureless office halls feel more wholesome.

How to implement:

  • Establish clear guidelines for pet-friendly areas.
  • Communicate expectations for pet behavior.
  • Create pet-free zones for employees with allergies.

17. Healthier vending options

Healthier vending options involve replacing traditional vending machine snacks with nutritious alternatives. These options typically include fresh fruits, nuts, and other healthy snacks.

Providing healthier food choices supports employee well-being, reduces the consumption of processed snacks, and contributes to overall health improvement.

How to implement:

  • Collaborate with vendors to supply healthier snacks.
  • Implement policies promoting nutritional options in vending machines.
  • Use LSAs to subsidize healthier snacks.

18. Sleep hygiene programs

Sleep hygiene programs focus on promoting healthy sleep habits and patterns among employees. These initiatives often include educational resources, workshops, and activities aimed at improving overall sleep quality.

Quality sleep is fundamental to physical and mental well-being. Sleep hygiene programs contribute to reduced stress, improved cognitive function, and enhanced overall employee health, productivity, and job satisfaction. Helping employees sleep better at night is an underrated perk, and one that can easily set you apart from other employers.

How to implement:

  • Schedule sleep hygiene workshops during breaks or after work hours.
  • Encourage flexible work schedules to accommodate varied sleep patterns.
  • Offer wellness stipends for sleep-related items (e.g., blackout curtains, sleep masks) through LSAs.

19. Napping areas

Napping areas are quiet and comfortable spaces within the workplace where employees can take short naps to rejuvenate and improve alertness. It may sound silly, but daytime naps are becoming increasingly common as an employer-sponsored perk.

It may sound silly, but napping actually contributes to improved productivity, focus, and overall well-being. Short naps have been linked to enhanced cognitive function and reduced stress. Not everyone is comfortable with napping at work, but it’s hard to argue with the benefits.

How to implement:

  • Designate quiet zones or install nap pods.
  • Establish guidelines for nap duration and scheduling.
  • Consider virtual relaxation sessions for remote employees, promoting a restful break.

20. Accessibility program

An accessibility program focuses on creating an inclusive and supportive work environment by implementing tools, modifications, or technology that cater to the needs of employees with disabilities. Employer-sponsored accessibility programs aim to eliminate barriers and ensure equal access to opportunities within the workplace.

Accessibility is a fundamental aspect of a diverse and equitable workplace. It not only ensures compliance with legal standards but also promotes a culture of inclusivity, fostering a sense of belonging among all employees.

How to implement:

  • Conduct accessibility assessments to identify areas of improvement.
  • Invest in ergonomic furniture, ramps, or assistive technology.
  • Allocate budget through Flexible Spending Accounts for accessibility enhancements.

21. Social connection initiatives

Social connection initiatives are programs designed to foster camaraderie and a sense of community among employees. These initiatives encompass various team-building activities, social events, and communication channels aimed at strengthening interpersonal relationships within the workplace.

Building social connections at work is essential for employee well-being. These initiatives contribute to increased morale, engagement, and job satisfaction. They also create a positive workplace culture by reducing feelings of isolation and stress, ultimately enhancing overall team dynamics.

How to implement:

  • Organize regular team-building events or outings.
  • Create communal spaces for casual interactions.
  • Establish mentorship or buddy programs.

22. Volunteer programs

Volunteer programs encourage employees to actively engage in community service or charitable activities during work hours or through company-sponsored initiatives. These programs are designed to instill a sense of social responsibility and community impact among employees.

Volunteering is a powerful way to contribute positively to society, and when integrated into the workplace, it enhances employee well-being. Volunteer programs offer employees a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and connection, fostering a positive workplace culture centered around corporate social responsibility.

How to implement:

  • Establish partnerships with local charities or organizations.
  • Recognize and celebrate employee volunteer efforts.
  • Provide paid time off for volunteering.

23. Employee activity clubs

Employee activity clubs are organized groups within the workplace where employees with shared interests come together to engage in various activities outside of their regular work responsibilities. These clubs can range from fitness and sports clubs to book or gaming clubs, providing a platform for employees to connect over common hobbies.

Employee activity clubs play a vital role in promoting work-life balance, fostering a sense of community, and boosting morale. These clubs contribute to a positive workplace culture by allowing employees to unwind, form connections with colleagues, and pursue shared passions.

How to implement:

  • Allocate designated spaces for club activities.
  • Provide resources or equipment needed for activities.
  • Offer stipends for club-related expenses through LSAss.

24. Childcare facilities

Childcare facilities are on-site centers or services provided by employers to support working parents by offering a safe and nurturing environment for their children during working hours. These facilities may include trained staff, educational activities, and age-appropriate play areas.

Childcare facilities are crucial for employees with young children, as they address the challenges of balancing work and family life. By providing convenient and reliable childcare options, employers contribute to reduced stress and enhanced job satisfaction among working parents.

How to implement:

  • Designate a dedicated space for the childcare facility.
  • Hire qualified staff to ensure a safe and stimulating environment.
  • Provide flexible work hours to accommodate parental responsibilities.

25. Book clubs

Book clubs are informal groups within the workplace where employees come together to read and discuss books. These clubs provide an avenue for intellectual stimulation, personal growth, and social interaction among employees who share a common interest in literature.

Book clubs offer a range of benefits, including fostering a sense of community, improving communication skills, and promoting continuous learning. They contribute to a positive workplace culture by encouraging open-mindedness and providing a break from daily work routines.

How to implement:

  • Designate a comfortable and quiet space for book club meetings.
  • Provide resources such as books or e-readers.
  • Offer stipends for book purchases or subscriptions through LSAs.

26. Workplace library

A workplace library is a designated space within the office where employees can access a collection of books, magazines, and educational resources. This program promotes a culture of continuous learning and provides employees with a quiet and enriching environment for reading and self-improvement.

A workplace library contributes to employees' personal and professional development by offering a diverse range of reading materials. It enhances cognitive abilities, reduces stress, and encourages a culture of knowledge-sharing, boosting job satisfaction.

How to implement:

  • Set up a dedicated area with comfortable seating and proper lighting.
  • Curate a collection of books spanning various genres and topics.
  • Create a digital library accessible to remote employees.

27. Workplace gaming room

A workplace gaming room is a space within the office equipped with gaming consoles, computers, and recreational games. Gaming rooms provide employees with an engaging environment to unwind, socialize, and enjoy various video or board games during breaks.

A gaming room contributes to employee well-being by providing a means of relaxation and stress relief. It fosters a positive workplace culture by encouraging team bonding, creativity, and a healthy work-life balance.

How to implement:

  • Set aside a dedicated room with comfortable seating and gaming equipment.
  • Provide a variety of games catering to different interests.
  • Offer stipends for remote employees to purchase or upgrade gaming equipment.

What health and wellness programs do employees like the most?

Outside of conducting comprehensive surveys, it is difficult to tell which benefits employees value the most. Even with data at your disposal, it’s still possible to offer the wrong things to the right people and vice versa, making it difficult to create a wellness benefits plan that works for everyone. So what can you do?

The answer is simple – put the power in the hands of the employees, and let them choose the wellness benefits they want.

By allowing employees to select the benefits that matter to them, you can drastically reduce the complexity of offering wellness plans at scale. The best tool to achieve? Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs).

LSAs can potentially revolutionize employee wellness by placing the power of choice into the hands of individuals. With LSAs, employers can tailor their health and wellness benefits according to the unique needs of their employees. Moreover, with LSAs, businesses can provide or enhance most of the wellness benefits included in this article. 

Employees who invest in their mental health can sign up for mental health workshops, take yoga classes and buy yoga equipment, or acquire cheap tobacco substitution products to help them overcome their addiction.

Employees who want better bodily health can acquire gym equipment at discount rates, invest in a better office chair, or join the office basketball team to play on weekends.

For examples of the benefits available through LSAs, read through our list of wellness account eligible expenses

Start implementing employee fitness and wellness programs in the workplace

A robust health and wellness program that fits the needs of your employees is a cornerstone of a healthy and productive organization. However, a one-size-fits-all approach to wellness benefits often falls short in addressing the diverse needs of individuals. Only a flexible employee wellness approach will satisfy your employees in the long run.

Flexible benefits packages are the industry standard for providing employee wellness at scale. By implementing a variety of flexible pre-tax spending accounts, including LSAs, FSAs, and HSAs, you can provide employees with benefits they’ll love, while minimizing costs and administrative overhead.

Here at Forma, we’re dedicated to providing cost-efficient benefits solutions with our enterprise-grade flexible benefits platform.

<span class="text-style-link text-color-blue" fs-mirrorclick-element="trigger" role="button">Talk to a Forma expert</span> and find out how to improve your employee benefits package today.

*Disclaimer: This document is for informational purposes. Forma is not engaged in the practice of law. Nothing contained herein is intended as tax or legal advice nor is it intended to replace tax or legal advice from counsel. If you need tax or legal advice, please consult with counsel or a certified tax professional.