Experiences of the pandemic have varied wildly. But there’s no denying that the last few years have been tough. Taking care of our health and wellbeing is more important than ever. This is especially true for remote workers. When you’re working from a home office, it’s easy for the line between personal and professional time to get blurry, which inevitably impacts wellness and productivity. Employers can support their employees — both remote and on-site — by initiating and encouraging a range of health and wellness activities in the workplace.
Here’s why this type of activity is so important, along with some great ideas.
The benefits of health and wellness activities in the workplace
Benefits of physical activity
Regular exercise is good for both physical and mental health. It reduces our risk of disease, boosts the immune system, and lowers feelings of depression and anxiety. It can also help us get a good night’s sleep — another key factor in health and wellbeing.
Benefits of mental health support
Burnout is a growing problem, and a high proportion of staff absences can be attributed to poor mental health. People who feel positive about themselves, their lives, and work find it easier to build relationships and cope with stress.
Benefits of good nutrition
When people eat healthily, they find it easier to maintain a healthy weight and sustain their energy levels throughout the day. Over time, they also experience fewer health problems and better mental health.
Benefits for companies
Good mental and physical health is good for individuals — but it’s good for companies too. Organizations that implement health and wellness activities can count on better productivity levels, better employee retention, and fewer sick days. You may also find it easier to recruit new talent.
21 health and wellness activities in the workplace to try
Whether your team is on-site in the office or they’re working remotely (or a little bit of both), there are lots of things you can do to give them a health and wellness boost.
Take a look at these examples of wellness activities. They’ll help you facilitate, encourage, and reward actions that make employees feel good and improve their productivity too.
Physical wellbeing activities
Invest in office equipment that encourages people to move
A sedentary lifestyle is bad for our health. Unfortunately, office-based jobs often involve lots of desk work. But that doesn’t mean people can’t move around while they’re working.
There’s lots of office equipment available that encourages less sitting. Think standing desks, yoga ball chairs, and even balance boards. Invest in the right office equipment — for both on-site and remote workers — and you’ll help employees increase their activity levels even when they’re hard at work.
Set a steps challenge
Walking is one of the best (and most underrated) forms of exercise. It can lower your blood pressure, boost your mood and reduce your risk of certain diseases.
Create a steps challenge to encourage your team to do more walking. You could support them in reaching their goals by setting up a walking club or giving an extra break during the day specifically to take a stroll and get some fresh air.
Host fitness classes
A regular fitness class gives employees the chance to build up a sweat and burn off some steam. Whether it’s Zumba, yoga, or HIIT, you can run fitness classes in the workplace or over video conferencing software.
For the latter, just ensure that minimal space and equipment are required. That way, even people working from home can get involved.
Partner with a local gym
As a company, you can often negotiate good deals on gym memberships. Partner with a nearby gym or allocate extra funds as part of a benefits package so employees can choose their own.
Change up your meeting culture
How many hours a week do your teams spend sitting in meetings? Imagine if they spent just some of those hours walking rather than sitting. Encourage meeting leaders to run walking or standing meetings. A simple change like this can make a huge difference to employee activity levels.
Treat your team to a chair massage
Massage reduces muscle tension, reduces stress, and increases relaxation. So why not hire a certified masseuse and treat your team to an at-desk shoulder massage? They’ll feel better able to tackle their workload and their next exercise session too.
Mental wellbeing activities
Run a weekly mindfulness session
Relaxation is a skill you can practice. A weekly mindfulness session will give your team the ability to unwind and destress and improve their mental health across the board. Get your sessions started by finding mindfulness scripts, videos, and podcasts online.
Address an always-on culture
It’s important to take regular breaks from work. So encourage people to use their vacation time. Make it clear that employees are not expected to check their emails after the working day has ended. And offer paid mental health days so people can take a break when they need it most.
Encourage regular breaks
You can install computer apps that prompt workers to take a break when they’ve been using a screen for an extended period of time. This helps to reduce eye strain and encourages workers to build breaks into their day.
Start a book club
There are many reasons why reading is good for your health and wellbeing. But being part of a book club spells even more benefits for your team. They get to enjoy non-work-related communication with co-workers and improve their team working skills to boot.
Introduce flexible work hours
Different employees have different sleep schedules and productivity windows. Help them produce quality work during their working hours by allowing a flexible work schedule suited to them and their needs.
Create an open-door policy
Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues, which means many people don’t access the support available to them. Ensure that your company has a policy of openness and acceptance. Make it easy for team members struggling with their mental health to find resources and ask for help when they need to.
Give back to your community
Research shows that volunteers feel more positive about themselves and their workplace. Luckily for companies, there are many opportunities for corporate teams to get involved with local charities. By donating your team’s time — either on a one-off or ongoing basis — you help a community project and improve your team’s wellbeing.
Provide healthy snacks
If your office has a snack closet or kitchen, try to keep it stocked with healthy (but tasty) options. You may also find vending machine suppliers who provide healthy snacks rather than the usual junk food.
Fuel their fire
When time is tight, and stress levels are high, it’s easy to call the local pizza delivery or dash to the nearest burger joint. If your team is approaching a big deadline and they’re putting in long hours, pay for a healthy catered lunch or dinner. That way, they can make healthy food choices while still focusing on work.
Run cooking classes or nutrition seminars
Encourage smart food choices by hosting a monthly cooking class or having employees teach each other how to make their favorite recipes. You could also arrange for nutrition experts to give a talk, offering information on the healthiest foods and meal plans.
Challenge your team to a cook-off
Play to your employees’ sense of competition by challenging your team to a cook-off. Just pick a healthy dish — like a veggie chilli or a sourdough loaf — create your judging criteria, and assign an unbiased panel to do the judging.
Launch meat-free Mondays
Eating more plant-based meals — and less meat — is good for our health. Launch meat-free Mondays at your workplace, and you’ll encourage your team members to discover and eat vegetarian meals.
Plus a few more ways to promote all-round wellbeing
Survey your team
You’ll get more interest in health and wellness activities in the workplace if you survey your employees first. Find out what activities and initiatives they’d find both useful and interesting. Then put their ideas into action.
Implement a rewards program
Incentivize your employees to pursue health and wellness goals by implementing a points-based reward system. Every time someone engages with a health or wellness activity in your workplace, they earn points — either individually or as teams. They can then put these points towards prizes, such as an afternoon off, a gift card, or a local sporting event ticket.
Launch a health and wellness newsletter
A newsletter is a great place to inform employees of the health and wellness activities available to them. You can also use this space to offer health and wellness advice or showcase the stories of employees who have smashed their health and wellness goals.
Learn more ways to shape up your workplace
We hope these activity examples have given you some inspiration for health and wellness initiatives in your workplace. For more ways to improve your workplace culture and productivity, check out the Smartway2 blog.