Corporate wellness is more important than ever as companies seek to attract and retain top talent. Employees want to work for companies that care about their mental, physical, and social wellbeing – and studies have proven that corporate wellness programs not only influence employee satisfaction, they also improve productivity and profitability.
However, many employee wellness programs rely on cliched “perks” or branded “gifts” that have little impact on wellbeing. In today’s competitive landscape, companies must get creative to distinguish their wellness programs from competitors and deliver attractive employee offerings.
To that end, here are 20 out of the box wellness ideas that truly improve employee wellbeing – along with the bottom line.
- Benefits of Employee Wellness
- Unique Wellness Ideas Differentiate Employers and Cater to Employees
- 20 Out-of-the-Box Wellness Ideas
Benefits of Employee Wellness
Wellness programs offer multiple benefits for employees and companies.
“While there are many benefits of a company-provided wellness program, top values include: healthier, happier employees, lower healthcare costs, attraction and retention of top talent, reduction in presenteeism and absenteeism, and lower rates of preventable chronic disease,” says Jenny Irvine, CEO of WellSteps, which provides worksite wellness solutions that help employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. “At WellSteps, we believe wellness can be a business strategy as well as a benefit to all employees.”
In fact, multiple studies prove a strong correlation between employee wellbeing and corporate success:
- Stock values for companies that scored high in corporate wellness increased by 235% versus the S&P 500 Index appreciation of 159% over a 6-year period (Forbes)
- Companies that applied for and won the Koop award – given to companies with outstanding wellbeing programs – outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 325% to 105% (Forbes)
- An analysis of 339 independent research studies found a strong correlation between employee wellbeing and employee productivity, customer loyalty, and business profitability (RePEc)
In addition, Gallup states that poor employee wellbeing can have significant negative consequences, including:
- Increased sick days with 75% of medical costs due to preventable conditions
- $322 billion lost globally each year due to turnover and productivity losses
- 15 to 20% of total payroll in turnover costs due to burnout
Related: Confident Posture: How to Look & Feel Confident with Body Language
Moreover, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre found a strong link between wellness and financial performance (Fast Company). Key findings include that companies with greater wellbeing generate greater profits and higher valuations and that high wellbeing scores predict both current and future performance.
Ultimately, Oxford found that wellbeing has a positive impact in six key performance areas:
Clearly, corporate wellbeing not only has a positive influence on employee health, it also extends to business health.
Unique Wellness Ideas Differentiate Employers and Cater to Employees
One way companies can compete is to introduce unique wellness ideas that differentiate their businesses and delight employees.
“Wellness is not one-size-fits-all. Each wellness company provides a tailored approach to wellness that speaks to their core values and philosophy of wellness,” explains Irvine. “At WellSteps, we focus on truly improving unhealthy behaviors to reduce risk and lower prevalence of chronic diseases. Just like each wellness vendor will have a different approach than their competitors, each company should take a unique approach when developing their program.”
Irvine says the best programs:
- Understand the needs they are trying to meet
- Have leadership buy-in
- Employ a robust marketing and communication plan
- Keep it fun
“To think about outside of the box ideas, you should first think about your population. What are the unique needs of your employees, what are their barriers, what are the goals for individuals, what is the culture of the company?” she says. “Once you can clearly understand the needs and desires of the population, you can then select unique and tailored wellness initiatives and ideas that fit their needs.”
20 Out-of-the-Box Wellness Ideas
Differentiate your business and give employees meaningful benefits with the following out of the box wellness ideas.
1. Posture Correctors
Back and neck pain are among the most common health problems, and many jobs can influence postural conditions such as hunchback, kyphosis, forward head posture, and tech neck. That’s why posture correctors can be useful wellness ideas that deliver positive benefits for employees.
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Posture correctors work by gently retracting the shoulder blades to help people sit and stand with proper posture. Then, they provide biofeedback to train wearers to adopt good posture so that, over time, they no longer need to wear their correctors.
For that reason, posture correctors offer both short-term and long-term benefits. They can help alleviate pain and correct postural issues that can lead to long-term health complications such as arthritis, spine issues, osteoporosis, decreased range of motion, nerve compression, tension headaches, and more. In addition, good posture influences confidence – it not only projects confidence onto other people, it can actually help people feel more confident.
Choose a posture corrector that’s lightweight and comfortable enough to wear under clothing yet stylish enough to be worn over clothing – and make sure you fully vet options to find a high-quality brand that’s effective and recommended by doctors.
“Posture is a big part of wellness, whether an individual works in the blue- or white-collar industries,” Irvine says. “When thinking in terms of posture and posture correctors, the goal is to support the individual’s core and spine whether sitting, standing, sleeping, or lifting. There are many things individuals can do on their own to support wellness, but in some cases, a piece of equipment like a posture corrector can be a tool to help them best support their health.”
2. Ergonomic Workstation Assessment
Invite an ergonomics expert to the office to provide personalized assessments for each employee’s workstation. The expert can work with each employee to identify the best ergonomic setup – chair height and backrest angle, monitor height, mouse, and keyboard – for their stature and job duties. Your company can even invest in ergonomic upgrades based on the expert’s recommendations.
3. Flexible Scheduling
It might not seem as out-of-the-box as it would have before the pandemic, but with the return-to-office movement, flexible scheduling is a unique wellness idea that can help employees maintain their own work-life balances. For example, you can allow employees to split time between home and the office or allow them to come in any time they’d like, provided they work their required hours and attend scheduled meetings.
4. Outdoor Workspaces
Working outside can provide mental health benefits, so providing outdoor workspaces is a unique wellness idea that can differentiate your company from competitors and make your business popular with top talent. One idea is to set up an outdoor, covered patio with powered tables so employees can take their laptops and phones with them.
5. Wellness Newsletter
Your company can publish a wellness newsletter (printed or via email) that lists wellness tips, local health events and 5Ks, shares healthy recipes, and celebrates employees who have achieved success with their wellness initiatives.
6. Personal Coaching
Contract with a personal coaching company to provide individual sessions for your employees. The coach can help employees set life goals as well as action steps for achieving them. Then, they can conduct quarterly check-in’s to ensure employees are on track, and offer advice if they’re not.
7. Mental Health Counseling and Apps
Many wellness initiatives focus on physical health, but mental health is just as important. Consider giving employees a stipend for mental health counseling or providing subscriptions to mental health apps. Check out the University of California Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services’ list of useful wellness and mental health apps for ideas.
8. Aromatherapy Diffusers
Looking for a desktop or take-home gadget that can promote wellness? Aromatherapy diffusers are a good option. Your employees can choose from various essential oils, each claiming unique benefits, to customize their aromatherapy experiences.
9. On Demand Fitness Subscriptions
Some employers subsidize gym memberships, but an out-of-the-box wellness idea is to cover the cost of on demand fitness subscriptions or health apps for your employees. Examples include the popular Beach Body programming and personal training apps.
10. Nutritionist Evaluation
Invite a nutritionist to come in each quarter and meet with employees one-on-one. The nutritionist can learn about each employees’ needs and goals, then develop personalized nutrition plans for fitness, weight loss, and disease prevention.
11. Healthy Eating Initiatives
Give employees healthy eating options and education. For example, you can add snack machines outfitted with healthy choices, host a “healthy happy hour” or “lunch and learn” in which you provide healthy snacks while a presenter discusses healthy food options, or set up a make-your-own smoothie bar with healthy recipes.
12. Massage Guns
Stiff necks and sore backs are common among employees who work in the office, on the line, or out in the field. Offer your staff relief by giving away massage guns they can use at work or at home.
13. Free Health Screenings
Prevention is the best medicine, so you can host health screening days to help your employees reinforce healthy lifestyles and detect potential issues early. Work with a local hospital or health center to bring screening services on-site a few times a year. Alternatively, you can give employees vouchers to get screened at healthcare facilities. Many healthcare organizations offer free or discounted screenings.
14. Community Charity
Charitable events help employees bond and feel good about themselves for giving back to their communities. Many companies participate in charity drives and allow employees to spend community service days volunteering at their favorite causes, but you can look for out-of-the-box ideas like participating in a mud run and asking employees to recruit monetary pledges for every mile run, for example.
15. Smart Water Bottles
Water intake is one of the most important (and easiest) things employees can do to foster good health, but many people are underhydrated. Smart water bottles help by tracking water intake and sending reminders via apps, among other functions. You can give employees branded smart water bottles as part of your overall corporate wellness program.
16. Personal Development Courses
Look for fun and unique personal development courses and invite presenters to your office. While many companies focus on topics such as leadership, you could think outside the box and explore options such as stand-up comedy (which incorporates public speaking) and financial fitness (which helps reduce stress and improve overall quality of life).
17. Walk and Talk Meetings
Few, if any, people like to be stuffed into boardrooms for long and arduous meetings. Make meetings interesting and engaging – and add a healthy step count element – with walk and talk meetings. Take your attendees to a nearby park or simply walk around your company’s neighborhood as you discuss your agenda items.
18. Weighted Blankets
According to Penn Medicine, weighted blankets can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, sleep disorders, ADHD, and autism. In addition, better sleep leads to more focused, creative, and productive employees. Consider giving employees weighted blankets for an out-of-the-box wellness idea that can make a real difference in their lives.
19. Wellness Subscription Boxes
Subscription boxes are popular consumer items, but they can also make unique corporate wellness ideas when you sign employees up for health-focused subscription boxes. Examples include organic fruit and vegetable boxes, fitness-related boxes, and relaxation-focused boxes.
20. Employee Wellness Surveys
It’s easy to make assumptions about what types of wellness initiatives will move the needle for your employees, both at work and in their personal lives. What will they appreciate? What will they use? What will actually benefit them? One way to find out is to create an employee wellness survey. Keep it anonymous and encourage employees to be open and honest. Then, analyze the results to uncover new out-of-the-box wellness ideas your employees will love.
From posture correctors to subscription boxes, unique corporate wellness ideas can be a difference-maker for your business and your employees. Consider the out-of-the-box wellness ideas listed here to show your employees how much you care, and enjoy the benefits that wellness initiatives deliver for your company.
Outfit your employees with BackEmbrace – a comfy, stylish, doctor-recommended posture corrector they’ll want to wear. Contact us to learn more about our corporate wellness offerings.