Workplace wellness programs do more than help employees shed a few pounds. They help employees reduce workplace stress, feel happier, teach work-life balance and financial wellness—and adopt healthy habits for life. The result? Increased workplace productivity, mental health awareness, and an improved ability to handle and manage stress.
The mental and physical health benefits that result from a companywide wellness program are far reaching, but are they sustainable? Not if the program isn't fun. Fun is an essential part of a viable and effective wellness program. According to the New York Times, 50 percent of companies with more than 50 employees have implemented workplace wellness programs, yet their programs are not achieving the desired results. Employees engaged in wellness initiatives are likely to feel more valued and appreciated by their employers—but if the program isn't fun, it isn't going to last. Here are some tips to ensure the fun factor is alive and well in your workplace wellness program.
Strength in Numbers
Wellness initiatives need to be accessible and inclusive. If people are concerned about sharing their personal information with co-workers (such as weight and health stats), they're less likely to participate. When you work with an outside vendor, sensitive health information remains private. This may come as a relief to many, and more people may be willing to participate as a result. More people lends to more fun and a stronger chance that the program continues.
Relationship building and enhanced teamwork comes naturally when more people participate in activities outside of the conference room. Wellness programs can serve as an icebreaker of sorts, helping people find common ground together and building a network of support through laughter, failure and success.
Find Out What's Fun
Seek employee input from the beginning and design your wellness program with them in mind. Survey employee health concerns and interests, then build a program based on them. What kind of group fitness do they most enjoy? What about supporting recreation softball or kickball teams? Bringing in fun stress events such as hooping or laughter yoga? Bring in professionals that are aligned with their fun factor, not yours, and gain personal satisfaction by watching their happiness—and health—improve.
Make Time to Make Time
Incorporate wellness initiatives into the actual workday. Granting employees access to a gym after hours is great, but is that fun? Not really. How about a lunchtime power hour, mid-afternoon speaker session or morning walk breaks? Encouraging employees to take a mental break from the workday to do something for themselves displays compassion and caring. It also gives them something to look forward to—and since it's part of the workday, more people will participate and encourage others to do so as well.
Incorporating a wellness program into your company's culture will enhance an employee's ability to be more productive, exceed workplace expectations, and meet personal and professional goals. A sustainable and effective program will happen when it's tailored to the employees' interests and built with this in mind: Have fun!
Written by Amy Ritsema. Amy graduated from Hope College with a degree in Exercise Science and has been working in Corporate Wellness for over 25 years. Amy cofounded OnSite Wellness in 2006 and continues to enjoy helping organizations bring wellness solutions to their employees. As a Certified Worksite Wellness Program Consultant, she spends most of her workdays designing, developing and implementing wellness programs that fit the needs of each individual organization.