How HR Leaders Can Champion Wellness Programs to Make Meaningful Change


Prosperous companies whose cultures promote wellness and longevity understand the importance of the physical, mental and social well-being of their employees. They understand well-being is crucial for the success of any business of any size, whether remote, in-person or hybrid, anywhere in the world. 


What Exactly Is an Employee Wellness Program?

An employee wellness program is a series of initiatives and activities that encourages and promotes employee health and well-being. This is typically done through team-building exercises, scheduled socializing, and fitness classes and workshops. 

Employee wellness can be measured by employee engagement, productivity, retention, healthcare spending, and employee surveys. 

Study after study has shown that the workplace has a significant impact on employee wellness  — and, in turn, that employee wellness has a significant impact on a business’s success. 


Criticism of Wellness Programs

Not everyone is #TeamWellness, and catalysts for wellness programs are heavily debated. 

Some critics believe companies are only devoted to money signs in the ROI, and they adopt employee wellness programs to boost their bottom line. 

Others believe that employee wellness programs can be discriminatory towards people who have physical or emotional issues and are unable to participate in wellness program activities. 

But we know that companies are better than that. 

Companies that initiate employee wellness programs are simply helping employees get a conversation started about a healthy active lifestyle — they are not trying to control their wellness. 

Companies that actually want to help inspire, encourage, and promote wellness in their employees are the ones who will have the best ROI. 

By promoting a culture of wellness in your company, you are promoting general human health.  


Why Employees Avoid Participation in Wellness Programs

No matter how inclusive, interesting and intriguing employee wellness programs are, hesitancy and resistance to adoption will always exist. 

Some employees may not feel like they are benefiting from wellness programs because they do not understand the benefits, or they may feel like they are not getting enough out of the program.

Other employees might feel that they will not be able to participate due to mental, physical or emotional difficulties, which may exclude them from prolonged physical activity or comprehensive social activities. 

But by engaging with employees and working together, companies can find out exactly what their employees want to get out of your company’s employee wellness program. 


The Benefits of a Successful Wellness Program

There are a number of benefits that come with a successful employee wellness program, including better health, less stress, reduced healthcare costs, increased productivity, and workplace longevity. 

  • Reduce Risks in Health and Wellness 
  • Employee wellness programs can support many areas of wellness, but the most obvious area of improvement is in general employee health and the reduction of stress. 
  • A stressed employee is an expensive one; employee stress is costing us trillions of dollars every year.
  • Widespread stress, poor health and low engagement result in a slew of negative consequences for individuals and the companies they work for — all of which can be solved by a strong employee wellness program. 
  • Integrating wellness tools such as physical movement, social activities, calming exercises and mental challenges can all improve general health and reduce stress in employees. 
  • Increase Productivity
  • If an employee isn’t feeling well, they’re not going to be as productive. 
  • Companies that incorporate workplace wellness programs have higher employee engagement rates. 

According to a study by Wellness 360, employee engagement is affected by employee health, workplace wellness, and organizational encouragement. 

Employees who feel that their leaders and organization genuinely care about them and want them to thrive are more productive, and they can help contribute to your workplace culture.


Improve Employee Retention

To put it simply, employees don’t want to leave a company that is treating them well. 

Before the pandemic, employees were hesitant to work from home and change their business methods. But now, employees may be more likely to change jobs if their employer does not allow them to work remotely or in a hybrid model. 

Employees are now taking their health into higher consideration and are valuing their time more, rather than commuting or spending time in the office. 


Build and Preserve High Employee Morale

Employees have higher trust in companies that treat them with respect. 

Companies that offer a strong and encouraging employee wellness program are able to build and preserve higher employee engagement and morale. 

A strong company culture stems  from high employee engagement and trust. Building and preserving high employee morale is as simple as integrating and promoting longevity through employee wellness programs. 

If you build it, they will come. And they will stay. 


Lower Absenteeism

Employees who aren’t operating at their healthiest and happiest may suffer from illnesses and conditions that generate more personal time off and sick days. 

Of course, it’s impossible for a workplace to be completely free of absenteeism. But having a healthy approach to dealing with absences is a must — both for the company and its employees. 

Employees who are physically and mentally healthy are generally happier. And the happier the employee, the more resilient, engaged and present the company culture they work in becomes. 


What Should HR Leaders Do to Champion Corporate Wellness Programs?

There are a few easy and effective ways to lead and encourage your employees to get all the benefits of an employee wellness program.

  • Choose a Wellness Platform that Will Resonate with Your Employees
  • Gym memberships are rarely used, and programs that take too much time are less likely to be successful in employee wellness programs. 
  • Handing out discounted gym passes or fitness club memberships is like burning money, unless you can guarantee that your employees are using those memberships to their full advantage.
  • Before deciding which gym is the best for your employees, you should ask them which gym they like best, or if a gym is what they even want. 
  • Different employees have different needs and abilities, and it’s important to know you won’t be able to meet everyone’s specific needs – but you can find a program that works for all. 
  • Engaging with employees and giving them the opportunity to voice what they really want from their wellness program can have the greatest long-lasting, positive impact.

Employees need different kinds of wellness support for different needs. One employee may require a variety of resources to help them get back into the flow. Or on some days, most employees may need to relax with meditation or mindfulness. Other days may require intense workouts and physical activity to relieve restlessness and restore energy equilibrium. 


Be the Communicator and the Coordinator of Corporate Wellness Programs

As a leader, you are the driving force behind integrating, managing and encouraging employee wellness programs for your organization.

Without your support, employees may feel discouraged, or hesitant to participate and engage. And we already know what happens when employees don’t actively take part in well-being programs. 

It’s not hard to drive engagement and encourage employees to take part in your employee wellness program when you believe in it yourself. If your employees believe that you believe in it, they will too. 


Take a Social Approach and Highlight Employee Involvement

Beyond being an example as  the leader to encourage participation in an employee wellness program, employees are also more likely to engage when they can see that other employees are engaging with the program. 

You can even create a Well-Being Committee within your organization. 

Creating a committee gives the employees the feeling of ownership and responsibility when it comes to their health and wellness. (It can also help to take some of the work off of HR’s plate.)


Always Collect Feedback from Employees to Make Improvements to the Approach 

An employee wellness program is constantly changing, evolving and growing to meet ever-transforming employee needs, workplaces and industries. 

Feedback and data are necessary for the longevity and success of your wellness program and they’re easy to collect and analyze. Certain KPIs can be linked to employee well-being, making the data easily available and quantifiable. 

Surveys and ongoing conversation are the best way to gather feedback and ideas and to find out what’s working and what’s not for your employees, and their overall health and wellness. 


Be Consistent, Frequent and Positive with Communication 

In that ongoing conversation, make sure you are actively and frequently checking in with employees — especially around the most difficult time of year for employee mental health. 

Between your engaged employees and your Employee Wellness Committee, you can create a successful wellness culture at your company. 

When your culture absorbs and promotes wellness, everyone benefits. 

Teaching your employees about easy and effective health and wellness tools and providing resources will set them (and your company) up for long-term success. 


Ready to Strengthen Your Employee Wellness Program?

Creating an employee wellness program from scratch may seem daunting. And it can be hard to know where to start. But you’re not alone. 

Enter: Bright Breaks

Bright Breaks is a turn-key solution for HR teams in any company. Through Bright Breaks’ AI powered smart scheduler, employees build the habit of taking meaningful breaks throughout the day and reap the benefits that come from it.

Schedule a demo and find out where Bright Breaks can take your organization today. 

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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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