You might have heard the phrase “employee wellness program” thrown around the office and wondered what the buzz is all about. Even though employee wellness programs are still fairly new to the modern workplace, they’ve gone through countless evolutions and iterations over the last 40 years or so to create the most effective opportunities for employees to benefit from them.

Here are some examples of popular wellness programs in the workplace, along with some of the most important benefits of providing your employees with one.

What Are Employee Wellness Programs?

While there are numerous ways to support employee well-being in the workplace, nowadays some examples of employee wellness programs are more common than others.

  • Offering on-site yoga and meditation classes, or free access to a local studio.
  • Opening an office fitness center, or discounted memberships to a local gym.
  • Providing healthy lunches and snacks to employees at work.
  • Setting aside some space for team members to relax and recharge.
  • Incentivizing bike-sharing, carpooling or using public transportation.
  • Initiating a rewards program for completing wellness challenges or achieving health goals.

What Are the Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs?

From greater retention to decreased absenteeism to a happier and more productive team, there are many benefits of instituting an employee wellness program at your workplace.

  1. They can increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

Employee wellness programs have been associated with increased job satisfaction and employee engagement. It certainly makes sense. When team members feel as though their contributions matter, they’re more likely to feel positive about the work that they do. Whether it’s through a pair of crazy socks that makes them smile or an invite to an exclusive workshop, employees love knowing that they’re valued, and a wellness program does just that. In fact, a happy team fosters a culture of gratitude, which can actually even give you a competitive advantage in the market.

  1. They can help avoid employee burnout.

Employee burnout occurs when an employee goes through stages of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and low personal accomplishment as a result of their experience at the workplace. While the employer response to these types of feelings might often be “you need a break” or “you need a vacation,” time away won’t fix the core of the problem, and employee performance may still decline.

Lack of support and lack of rewards have both been shown to contribute to employee burnout; therefore, a well-structured employee wellness program is one way to help ensure employees (and the organization) don’t suffer as a result of employee burnout. By reminding employees that their work is valued and showing them support through programs that empower them to achieve their goals, you can help your employees feel proud to tackle the workday.

  1. They help improve workplace productivity.

One of the most commonly cited benefits of an employee wellness program is the increase in workplace productivity. When employees feel as though they’re all moving toward a common goal, being recognized along the way and taking care of themselves throughout the process, they’re going to work harder, plain and simple.

  1. They can lead to decreased absenteeism.

When employees aren’t excited about where they work, they tend to call out sick more often, and that leads to the loss of company time and dollars. Studies have shown that wellness programs can actually help decrease absenteeism in the workplace. When employees feel like their work is valued and making an impact, it makes sense that they’d be empowered (perhaps even excited) to go into work every morning.

Wellness initiatives that focus on preventive methods can also save the company healthcare costs over the long-term. When employees take better care of themselves, both within and outside the workplace, they may be able to get ahead of more complicated (and costly) health concerns down the road.

  1. They support increased employee retention rates.

Motivated employees are healthier and happier, work harder and stick around longer. Studies have shown that employee wellness programs positively influence retention rates, therefore decreasing the occurrence of costly turnover.

So, What Motivates Employees?

With all of the benefits of instituting an employee wellness program, it makes sense to want to start building one right away. However, it’s important to invest the proper time and resources into creating a structure that will suit your workplace.

Some common categories of motivational perks that help inspire employees to take action include:

  • Company swag and team perks, like a pair of novelty socks (novelty socks happen to make a great gift) or free team lunch
  • Time to enjoy outside of the office or travel-related experiences, like a cruise with the family or a long weekend at the winery
  • The gift of choice, like a gift card to a favorite restaurant or cold, hard cash

As with any type of incentive program, customization is key. Just as every person is unique, so is each organization. By being mindful of your office culture and what makes your team tick, you’ll be able to reap all the benefits of providing your employees with a wellness program that motivates and inspires!

Josette Olivera is the Marketing & E-Commerce Associate at The Sock Drawer. She is known as the person you want to help you, who approaches each little detail thoughtfully but also has a strong sense of humor and a whip-smart attitude. Outside of work, she loves to dance, hang out with her cool husband and kids, and inject her upbeat energy everywhere she goes!

Employee wellness stock photo by one photo/Shutterstock