How to Create an Annual Wellbeing Plan for Remote Teams [+ Free Template]


When you’re managing remote teams, it’s hard to tell what’s really going on with your employees on a day-to-day basis. Are they looking after themselves, socializing, and taking regular breaks? Or are they forgetting to eat, feeling guilty about leaving their desks, and experiencing the first signs of burnout?

Isolation and work/life balance are ongoing problems for remote workers, so as an employer, it’s essential to make sure your teams are operating at peak performance. This means either creating a proactive annual wellbeing plan for your organization, or enhancing your existing wellness initiatives to ensure that everyone is engaged and getting maximum benefits from your program.

In this article, we’ll take a look at why prioritizing wellbeing is essential for remote teams, and what you need to think about during the program planning phase.

How a wellbeing plan can positively impact remote teams

There are multiple ways that wellbeing plans can improve the lives of your remote workers. The most common ones are:

  • Creating a sense of community and inclusion
  • Eliminating feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Promoting a positive work culture
  • Educating employees on mental and physical health
  • Improving work/life balance
  • Increasing collaboration
  • Developing more productive, resilient teams
  • Improving job satisfaction levels

With a structured wellness plan in place, you’ll have a better grasp of how individuals are coping with their workload, how they’re feeling as a whole person, and how to proactively help any employees with mental or physical health issues that might otherwise be hidden from HR.

Getting buy-in from C-suite

Getting buy-in from C-Suite for new initiatives can be a challenge. But it’s important to get management on board for burnout prevention strategies such as a wellness plan.

You’ll also need to factor in the budget for team incentives. Is there a general fund you can use for this purpose, or will you need to secure a separate budget?

When you’re pitching your annual plan, make sure you approach it in a way that it ties to overall business goals and a measurable ROI for stakeholders.

For example, studies have shown that having a structured wellness plan in place can help to:

From a business perspective, this means your company could save on healthcare costs, reduce sick leave, improve staff churn rates, and increase productivity across your organization.

You’ll also need to demonstrate that it will be simple to implement and track across your entire company, whether you’re a hybrid team or fully remote. If your program has a complex structure or is difficult to implement, it mostly likely won’t get the ROI you hoped for.

You’ll need to consider common challenges such as: 

  • The actual wants and needs of your employees
  • How you’ll structure everything from day to day
  • Who will set up and manage the program
  • How you’ll track engagement across the year
  • How you’ll define success, so you can report accurate findings to stakeholders, and optimize the program for the coming year.

The key to success is to keep your wellness plan as easy to set up and execute as possible.

Instead of getting carried away with expensive, complicated challenges and activities, try including user-friendly wellness apps (like Bright Breaks) that are easy to implement and highly engaging for your team members.

6 steps to create an annual wellbeing plan

All the moving parts of your plan need to combine to create something that’s social, inclusive, and focused on both mental and physical health aspects. But most of all, it needs to be fun!

If your employees feel that engaging with your wellness activities creates more work for them, or that the activities are pointless or boring — your success metrics and ROI will suffer as a result.

To ensure maximum engagement and adoption across your teams, here is our 6-step framework for a successful plan.

Step 1: Determine your goals

What are you ultimately seeking to address by creating your annual wellbeing plan? Is it to improve connectivity? Are you looking to proactively manage burnout? Or ensure that employees are getting some exercise during their day?

Once you’ve identified your overall goal(s), you’ll be able to see a clearer pathway for what needs to be included in your plan.

Here are some examples of goals to think about.

Team connection

Socializing and creating real connections between employees can improve mental wellbeing and reduce the isolation factor for your remote teams. Even though people might chat on Slack during the day, it doesn’t compare with having regular virtual events.

Consider adding some social meetups to your wellbeing calendar like:

  • Monthly social hangouts
  • Virtual games sessions
  • Trivia and quiz events
  • Virtual team-building events
  • Team wellbeing workshops
  • Virtual nutrition or cooking workshops

You can easily set up team social events with the apps you already use, such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Viva Engage.

Increase awareness of available benefits & programs

Employees often aren’t fully aware of the wellness benefits and programs that they might have access to in their organization.

Having a plan in place will give you a great opportunity to promote these existing resources throughout the year, and ensure that your team members know that there are wellness solutions available to them at any time.

Promote recognized wellness topics

The wellness movement is a global one, and there are many ongoing and trending topics you can include in your annual plan, such as:

  • Healthy eating habits
  • Exercise
  • Mental wellness
  • Burnout prevention
  • Better sleep
  • Wellness music
  • Mindfulness

Promoting these recognized topics can create a culture of wellness and inclusivity, and position your company as one that takes proactive measures to look after the health of its employees.

Be more inclusive

Common issues with company wellbeing plans is that many employees end up feeling left out for a variety of reasons. Any wellness activities in your program need to prioritize being:

  • Inclusive for everyone in your organization
  • Accessible to people of every age, and in any country, culture, and time zone
  • Simple to learn or do
  • Positively focused

If your wellness activities make anyone on your team feel ashamed, excluded, or unable to participate for any reason, they probably won’t be successful.

Increase employee engagement

Employees are more productive and engaged when they feel cared for, listened to, and feel a sense of belonging within a supportive organization.

Promoting simple initiatives to help your remote workers look after themselves, and checking in regularly to get feedback will make a huge difference — not only to how they feel, but to how engaged and focused they are across their work days.

Enable managers and people leaders to be more involved in well-being

Managers set the tone for your wellness initiatives. If they don’t engage or participate with your program, it’s unlikely that your employees will either.

Enable your people leaders to become role models for wellness, and get them excited about being part of your new annual program.

Create or enhance a well-being committee or wellness ERG

If you don’t have an internal wellbeing committee or Employee Resource Group (ERG) for mental health, this is the perfect opportunity to form one.

Remote workers have specific needs when it comes to their wellbeing, and HR and management often can’t tell whether an employee needs mental or emotional support until they unexpectedly hand in their resignation.

A wellbeing committee helps you take a proactive stance for your employees, and it gives workers resources and open communication channels to help them move through any wellness issues before they become a problem.

Step 2: Audit your existing resources and programs

Approach and implement your wellness plan in a way that makes sense for your teams, and take into account any existing resources you have that might support a monthly theme.

These might include:

  • Wellness platforms that your company subscribes to already
  • Communication channels (e.g. Slack and Zoom) that you can use to promote wellness events and increase engagement
  • Existing internal wellbeing committees or groups
  • Your existing employee assistance program
  • Company swag platform (e.g. Printful), or availability of existing merchandise to use for challenge incentives

Step 3: Determine if additional resources or programs are needed to reach goals

A core part of your annual wellbeing plan should be to ensure that a range of mental and physical health resources are available for employees whenever they need them.

If your people are struggling with burnout, stress management, mental health issues, or anything else — they need to know they can rely on you to get coaching, counselling, or training that will help to improve their overall health, manage workloads, and set boundaries.

You can run surveys to help figure out what your employees want and need from your organization in terms of extra wellness resources.

This might include:

  • Employee assistance for mental health, burnout, stress management etc
  • Counselling / coaching
  • Guidance and training on how to set boundaries, manage workload, stay healthy etc

If you don’t have many relevant wellness resources to hand, you can bring in apps like Bright Breaks or MoveSpring to help fill the gaps.

Step 4: Take note of international annual wellness themes

There are many international wellness themes which are recognized throughout the year, such as:

  • Thankfulness
  • Inclusion
  • Giving
  • Relaxation
  • Movement
  • Gratitude

Depending on your work values and culture, you’ll need to decide which ones your company wants to highlight, and which ones will be most important for your remote employees.

Step 5: Plan out each month

Establishing monthly wellness topics can be a great way for your employees to think more holistically about their personal mental and physical health. And it also makes life a lot simpler for HR teams to plan challenges and activities that tie in with each month’s theme.

You don’t have to keep to the international wellness themes if you don’t want to. This is your chance to flex your creative HR muscles!

For example, you might initiate a Remote Worker Wellness Month. Or you could establish an Emotional Wellbeing Month, and make a plan to highlight your organization’s Employee Assistance Program as part of this.

While challenges can be a great way to get everyone involved in monthly wellness themes, it’s not necessary to run themed challenges every month, as this can often end up feeling like more work for your employees.

An example of a structured annual wellness plan might look like:

  • A monthly wellness theme promoted in your Slack channel
  • A quarterly, company-wide internal wellness challenge
  • A social hour for teams once a month
  • Monthly wellbeing committee meetings
  • Enabling managers/team leads to launch wellness challenges for their department once or twice each year

Popular corporate wellness apps like Bright BreaksYumuuv, and MoveSpring can all become pivotal parts of your monthly wellness plans — offering fun, user-friendly ways for employees to connect, move, get motivated, and feel healthier and happier during their work days.

Apps can take a lot off your HR plate as well, as fresh content is being created constantly, so your teams will never get bored.

Popular solo or group programs on these apps include:

  • Virtual workouts
  • Guided yoga sessions
  • Private gratitude sessions
  • Hydration challenges
  • Step challenges
  • Healthy habits challenges
  • Guided meditations

You could also consider including things like virtual “walk and talk” sessions which match 2 or 3 team members at random, and encourage them to go for a walk outside together and chat remotely on their phones.

Walking meetings have been proven to help people regroup and recharge during their work day, and you can watch a fantastic TED talk about all the positive benefits here.

Step 6: Share the wellbeing plan

Once your plan has been laid out, it’s time to distribute it across your organization. You can do this via emails, brochures, or presentations.

Make sure copies of your program get into the hands of managers and leaders, such as:

  • C-Suite
  • Your wellness committee
  • Managers
  • People leaders
  • And anyone else who expresses interest

To ensure your plan hits the ground running, get feedback and suggestions from everyone in your organization that has read through your plan, or send a quick survey to find out how many people like or dislike your initiatives.

Once your plan rolls out, collect regular feedback from managers and employees to help you understand what’s working and what needs tweaking as you move forward. And remember to keep everyone informed about any updates or alterations to your wellness program as they happen.

Download the Free Google Sheet Template

We designed for you an annual employee wellbeing template, including

  • A calendar with important dates to consider when planning the activities
  • A monthly, editable table to create, manage and follow your plan with your team
  • Instant access opportunity to free scripts and Canva templates

Open the Annual Wellbeing Template

Wrapping up

Companies with a strong organizational commitment to wellness, and an engaging annual wellbeing plan, tend to have happier and more productive employees, and a lower staff turnover rate.

Establishing healthy habits can encourage your employees to positively change their remote work behaviors, and in turn, lead to them enjoying healthier lives, bonding with their remote co-workers, and finding greater enjoyment in their work days.

A user-friendly app like Bright Breaks can support HR and remote teams in their wellness journeys, with hundreds of live, 7-minute solo or group breaks that encourage movement, mindfulness, and maximum health benefits — with minimal effort.

Best of all, there’s no complicated scheduling required. Your employees can take breaks right at their desk whenever they need them, and wherever they are in the world.

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What you should do now

  1. Promote best practices for remote worker health with free copy/paste, pre-written scripts you can post every week in your internal communications channels.

  2. Learn from top HR & People Leaders about the latest strategies to keep your remote workforce happy, healthy, and connected on The Virtual Vibe Podcast.

  3. Contact our sales team to discover the benefits of our built-for-the-workplace wellness solution, compared to B2C offerings like Calm or Headspace.
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