As wellness programs become more mainstream, and companies decide they want to take on wellness in a serious way, here are some new, innovative and "out of the box" ideas about wellness that can shape a program that engages and includes your entire population.
Wellness means a lot of different things to your Employees, it could mean having to take that annual blood test to get a $25 gift card, massages on-site, or it might mean getting to take a day off of work to do community service or spend time with family.
The best place to start with a wellness program is to ask your employees how they feel the most well, and what kinds of programs would work for them. There are so many areas to choose from: fitness, nutrition, sleep, stress management, psychological issues, financial, family and friends, vacations, and schedule/time management to name a few, along with the traditional medical, dental, life benefits they may receive from your company.
The challenge is getting people to change behaviors, and be open, especially if the program is too advanced or the culture doesn't commit to supporting that person meet their goals. Access, convenience, and fun are all aspects that should be considered when planning a program. Recently, we met the team from Matchup that puts together fun fitness challenges that synch up with most fitness bands.
I've even heard of Zombie Crawls, Santa Scramble, and other options from Fix to make it a little more cutting-edge. Another idea from Baptist Health South Florida is to create a fitness box for the office or department. Include items like kettlebells or light weights, yoga mats, and weight bands that can be used throughout the day.
Even if employees want to take a 10-15 minute break every hour or two to do some stretching or light lifting, this is an opportunity for them to elevate their heart rate and get out of their chairs. It's definitely better to take a wellness break than a smoke break!If you want to take it to the next level, providing either classes (yoga, zumba, aerobics, etc) or building out a gym may be a great way to encourage your staff to take on a new fitness goal.
Adding showers and bike racks could make it easy for them to bike to work. If you want people to take the stairs instead of the elevator, put funny jokes or inspirational quotes in the hallways and change them often. Another out of the box option is bringing produce boxes or healthy snacks to your office. Endlessly Organic, works with over 25 companies and hospitals in South Florida to deliver boxes of organic produce for employees to take home.
There are organic buying clubs (also known as CSAs) throughout the country that would love to provide this service. Employees love the convenience and often will chat about new recipes. They might even get out of their silos. You never know what new friendships you'll be fostering! If you want to bring healthy snacks into the office, SnackNation , UrthBox and even healthy vending machines are a great option are possibilities.
If you work in an environment where they already have vending machines with lots of unhealthy choices, there are a few options, either make the unhealthy snacks more expensive than the healthy options, remove it from eye level, or remove it completely. In all these cases the level of financial commitment from the company can be minimal or your can completely subsidize the cost.
Looking for an advanced program? Why don't you bring in a nutritionist to administer a food detox program to your employees for a period of time? You could also bring someone in to teach weekly or monthly cooking or nutrition classes, do weight loss challenges with massive rewards, or completely change the food in your cafeteria so it is all raw vegan, paleo, or gluten free.
(The last one is an exaggeration!) The point is to bring in as many healthy options as possible, and leave unhealthy ones to the outside world. One of my favorite tips has to do with scheduling. Many people feel strapped, either financially or time wise, which can impact how well they are feeling as well as performing at work.
I heard of company that schedules 30 minutes of wellness a week to work on everything from insurance documents, meditation, to taking a walk around campus. That time was blocked out company wide, and so they knew what the expectation was. Another scheduling idea is to allow staff to come in early or late to accommodate their fitness schedule.
At my office, if I know I'm going to yoga class after work that requires me to leave early, I come in 30 minutes early or make up the time another day. The same thing can be done for working mothers and fathers, or people with other kinds of commitments to alleviate stress. As for stress management, there are so many things to consider.
From meditation and yoga classes to time management seminars and therapy, there are many ways that these different services can be offered both internally or you can partner with a company to offer it in your community. Many healthy businesses are happy to offer employee coupons or come give lectures about their areas of expertise- again, just trying to find creative ways to make it wellness happen!
So far, most of the solutions I have talked about don't cost the employers much and have many added benefits. Creating a culture of wellness and balance takes time, and often requires trying a variety of initiatives to see what sticks. Trying different options, being persistent and never giving up is the way to go!
Wishing you a wellness program that meets the goals of your organization and finds you well!
About the Author
Cheryl Arnold - Cheryl directs Endlessly Organic's daily operations and team. She is passionate about building a community around healthy eating and organic food in South Florida, which is why she Co-Founded Endlessly Organic. Cheryl has an extensive background in education, guest services and business development.
A former Miami-Dade County teacher, she went on to work for Discovery Zone as a Training Manager, prior to becoming their Director of Customer Service. Following that position, she became the Director of Customer Relations for EnFlyer.com, a highly successful email marketing company. Also a South Florida native, Cheryl was born and raised in Miami.
After graduating from Miami Palmetto Senior High School she continued her education at the University of Florida, where she earned both her Bachelor of Arts and Master's degrees in Education. Cheryl, along with her husband and two children, currently resides in Miami Beach, where she is actively involved with her community and charitable organizations.