Wellness Programs for Your Workplace: Why You Need Them, How to Build Them

A workplace wellness program can be any kind of health promotion activity, benefit, or policy that is primarily designed to encourage healthy behavior in the workplace and in the daily lives of employees. Workplace wellness programs are part of a growing realization that a positive and healthy work environment can lead to better employee health, morale and productivity.

Workplace Wellness Data From the Staples Canadian Workplace Survey

For an idea of the impact wellness programs are having in Canada, the 2019 Staples Canadian Workplace Survey asked employees questions about the availability and types of wellness programs their employees offered. Because employees spend so much time at their workplace, it is understandable that 83 percent of survey respondents say employers have a responsibility to keep employees mentally and physically well. However, only 39 percent said that their employer offers a dedicated wellness program, and 40 percent said their employer has never discussed a topic related to employee wellness, illustrating a gap between employee expectations and employer performance. In fact, 48 percent of survey respondents indicated that they would actually take a pay cut for a job with an employer that cares about health and wellness.

Ideas for Your Workplace Wellness Program

Knowing how important this issue is to employees, employers have a wide variety of options when considering what type of wellness program to implement at their workplace. Wellness programs often feature benefits related to physical fitness such as gym reimbursement or discounts, an on-site gym, or group fitness classes. However, wellness programs can also provide better employee education about health topics through free seminars or visits from fitness counselors and nutritionists.

When crafting a workplace wellness program, employers also should not overlook employee mental health. Encouraging employees to take their vacation and PTO days and providing places at the office for quiet moments of rest and decompression are other helpful ways to improve employee health.

Here are a few ideas to make your workplace wellness program more engaging:

  • Healthy snacks, beverages, and meal options at the office
  • Fun incentives like voluntary competitions to see which employee or team can track the most steps in a month
  • Financial rewards or prizes for attending first aid or CPR classes

Finally, if you want more information about starting a workplace wellness program, check out the free e-course from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety called the Business Case for Workplace Wellness.

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