By Pam Jackson

Corporate employee wellness programs improve engagement and reduce healthcare costs by making it easier for employees to access the care they need to stay healthy. Programs can include gym reimbursements, health coaching, nutrition support, and disease management tools for chronic conditions. Wellness programs can benefit employers by:

  • Reducing absenteeism
  • Achieving higher employee productivity
  • Reducing workers’ compensation and disability-related costs
  • Reducing injuries
  • Improving employee morale and loyalty

Designing and managing an employee wellness program is an important step in improving the health and productivity of employees, especially as businesses wait to return to the “new” normal. Remote resources and virtual programs are essential in creating for value for employees.

Experts predict that businesses and services will open in stages and could close again when cases spike. These potential restrictions make many aspects of life more difficult, including regular exercise. Wellness programs can include online and on-demand resources as an alternative to in-person options. Here are five options to refresh wellness programming.

  1. Online access to programming
    Connect employees to fitness and exercise programming that can be accessed online, group classes live-streamed and/or pre-recorded for example, to empower them to be proactive and manage their health. Make it fun and encourage employees to nominate their favorites to share with others.
  2. Offer nutrition and diet education courses (from the company or third parties)
    Expand employee awareness and collaboration with classes that involve healthy cooking and eating; invite creativity and exploration and inform about common shortcomings of popular food choices. Create partnerships with healthcare facilities who can provide ongoing support and attention to employees.
  3. Create Community Challenges
    Consider inventing fitness challenges that unite employee groups and inspire them to be in action. Friendly competition towards meeting goals over time can be fun and engender corporate loyalty. Whether it is walking challenges and who can take the most steps everyday to fun runs or yoga-thons; allowing employees to form teams and challenge one another keeps the fitness experience fun and inspiring and allows for greater probability of success in achieving and sustaining fitness goals.
  4. Reward healthy choices.
    Give incentives, not necessarily monetary (could be as effective as public praise), to employees volunteering to take action. Create systems of accountability (for instance, weekly reporting of percent weight reduction or kilograms of fresh fruit and vegetables consumed) that are measurable. People are inspired by progress and accomplishment… theirs or others.
  5. Be attentive to mental healthfulness
    For people who may be working remotely and feeling isolated, or those attending work in person feeling vulnerable and insecure, having a safe space to discuss their feelings, and be attended to is critical for well-being. Corporate organizations can provide access to counseling, ensure confidentiality, and make it available to all employees.