20 Awesome Employee Wellness Activities to Launch at Work

Your employees will thank you for it.

Joanna Zambas
Joanna Zambas

Content Manager and Career Expert

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Employee Wellness Activities

Employee wellness is more important than ever before.

Jobseekers are looking beyond generous paychecks and into a business’s benefits and company culture to ultimately achieve a good work–life balance.

So, to drive results, you need to ensure that you create an engaged workforce through a culture of wellness.

But how do you ensure that employees are happy? And at what cost?

While you won’t see an initial return in terms of money, it’s vital to understand the link between employee wellness and performance. Indeed, when employees are happy in their environment, they’re generally healthier and more productive.

To help you achieve just that, consider implementing these 20 employee wellness activities to engage your team.

1. Find out what employees want

Establishing a wellness program that employees won’t use is pointless for everyone involved. To ensure that you’re addressing workplace issues, you should include your staff in its development.

You could do so through an anonymous survey or a suggestion box, or by creating a dedicated team (led by the HR department) to implement the program and come up with ideas for different activities. Once you’ve established the program, continue seeking feedback from everyone so you can improve and optimize all benefits.

2. Create a bike-to-work scheme

If you have many employees that live locally, you can help them reduce their CO₂ emissions and improve their fitness by creating a bike-to-work scheme. There are many different ways you can do this — including offering credit for rented bikes, or purchasing a bike for the employee and providing space for them to store it safely during working hours.

Alternatively, you could consider transport reimbursements for those that have a long commute and are required to drive or take the train every day.

3. Provide complementary healthy snacks

If your budget doesn’t stretch as far as that of major companies like Google and Facebook, who provide employees with freshly-cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner, a great alternative is to provide an array of healthy snacks.

You don’t have to go overboard and get fresh fruit delivered to the office every morning, though. Instead, you can simply invest in snacks like dried fruit, nuts, rice cakes, oat bars and other relative nibbles that will keep for a long time.

4. Offer catered lunches

If you’re a large company and do have the budget, catered lunches are a huge incentive for all staff members — especially if healthy options are included. This, essentially, ensures that they stop eating unhealthy takeaways at their desk every day, which only leads to a mid-afternoon crash.

By offering catered lunches, you’re effectively investing in their nutrition and making sure that they’re eating healthy foods that are good for their brain, and you’re also encouraging interaction among employees — turning lunch into a social gathering in the process!

5. Offer discounted gym memberships

As most office workers live a sedentary life, we often don’t see the damaging effects it has on our health. Indeed, the so-called “sitting disease” can cause type 2 diabetes, among many other life-threatening illnesses. As such, it’s important to encourage physical activity in and outside the workplace.

If you can’t create an on-site gym, then you should consider arranging discounted membership prices with local gyms or investing in free exercise classes, allowing employees to work out before or after work.

6. Supply step-tracking devices

To encourage healthy living, you can give everyone a step-tracking device to ensure they walk the recommended 10,000 steps a day. With a tool like Fitbit, you can do exactly that, as users can track their daily activities, steps and sleep, and input what they eat to help them reach their goals.

You can also host competitions and awards for those who have completed the most steps to encourage all members to use their step-tracking devices and work towards a healthy lifestyle.

7. Offer corporate discounts

Help your employees’ paychecks last longer every month by offering a bundle of corporate discounts and freebies.

These could be linked to essentials like travel, food and groceries, or they could be entirely for leisure like free cinema tickets and massages — something to make your employee feel rested and refreshed!

8. Devise a smoke-free policy

If you have designated on-site smoking areas, consider getting rid of them altogether and start promoting a smoke-free policy. If workers don’t have easy access to a smoking area, they’re less likely to inhale the dangerous toxins throughout the day!

This policy is tricky, as it can anger the smokers in the workplace, so do be cautious when implementing it. If the smokers outweigh the non-smokers, then you should skip this idea.

9. Invest in wellness software

Employee mindfulness should be taken into consideration when forming an employee wellness program. And with so many meditation apps readily available, it’s never been easier to incorporate them into your scheme.

Consider giving all staff members funds to invest in a recognizable wellness app like Headspace, for example. You could also create a private meditation room where employees can comfortably take some time out when they need to.

10. Create social clubs

Social activities are a great way to improve corporate culture, increase team morale and promote employee recognition.

Through team-building activities like game nights, karaoke or laser tag, employees can build strong connections within the workplace, making them more loyal towards the organization and fellow team members.

11. Offer work-from-home Fridays

Another great addition to an employee wellness program that won’t cost a cent is none other than work-from-home Fridays. While many employers frown upon working from home, others applaud it — indeed, research proves that it increases employee productivity.

Think about it: employees will work with minimal distractions and can focus on the tasks that they need to complete. To test the waters, you can assign two separate groups so that the office isn’t completely empty and see how the new program rolls out.

12. Host dress-down days

Another benefit to celebrate the end of the week could be dress-down days.

It’s surprising how a change of attire can shift someone’s entire psyche! According to Inc, “The majority of American workers view casual office attire as a perk that creates a less stratified work environment and puts the emphasis on employees' contributions rather than their wardrobes.”

13. Offer flexible working hours

Employees that have a flexible working schedule will feel more content in their jobs. They can juggle their job responsibilities and out-of-work duties without having to worry about the effects on their jobs.

This is especially beneficial for new parents who are learning how to raise a child. A parent who is sleep-deprived isn’t going to be productive, but if they have a flexible work schedule, they can catch up on some much-needed sleep before heading to work.

14. Arrange incentive-based trips

Incentive-based trips are a great way to improve employee morale and offer recognition for hard efforts.

To ensure everyone is engaged, offer this incentive as a team reward. For example, if a team exceeds its targets, they can be taken on a celebratory trip during working hours.

15. Allow for personal days off

Occasionally, employees need a day to unwind and gather their thoughts. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re ill; it just means that they need a moment to recharge their batteries. But as most businesses have a strict sick policy, they hardly ever include personal days off.

JPMorgan Chase, on the other hand, has nailed this one, and allows employees three personal days off per year — no questions asked! In return, employees are more productive when they return to work!

16. Set up a mentoring program

Mentoring programs are essential within the workplace, as they ensure new hires have a person to turn to when in need.

When a new employee is assigned a mentor, they can gain insight into the company’s goals and will, ultimately, be more effective in their jobs. And when they succeed, they’ll generally feel more satisfied.

17. Allow pets to come to work

Pet owners know the guilt of leaving their beloved pets at home to head to work all too well — which is partly why remote work has been such a hit. So, rethinking your company’s pet policy could address this issue.

Studies show that pet-friendly offices can boost employee wellbeing, increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover. Plus, it can create a more welcoming and happier environment for your workforce, as animals often provide comfort and relief from stress with their mere presence.

Of course, this is a wellness initiative that requires thorough planning as, while most employees might be on board with this idea, there could still be issues concerning health, hygiene and phobias. So, before proposing this activity, ensure that it is feasible first.

18. Start a book club

If you’re looking for ways to help your team engage with each other beyond their work, a book club could be a great way to achieve this. This initiative will bring book lovers together by fostering dialogue and improving dynamics through the power of reading.

This is a straightforward activity that can be easily managed. Start by enlisting those interested and creating a list of books before having them cast their votes for the read of the month. Each meeting could be led by a different person, allowing everyone the opportunity to be an active member of the group and offer diverse perspectives.

19. Offer finance coaching

With today’s rising cost of living, managing one’s finances is often an overwhelming process — which is why financial literacy is so beneficial. If you want to help your employees address such concerns, offering them financial coaching (along with a livable salary) could certainly improve their wellness and wellbeing.

You could opt for small workshops, one-to-one sessions by a financial expert, or even online courses. Through these sessions, your employees will become familiar with ways to manage and control their finances, empowering them to reach their money goals and achieve financial security.

20. Create ongoing volunteering opportunities

Providing your team with opportunities to volunteer for causes they care about is an excellent way to employee wellness. Whether weekly, monthly or yearly, your company could organize volunteering events and collaborations with local charities and non-governmental organizations, giving your workforce the chance to contribute their time or skills.

For example, you could introduce a student mentoring scheme, visit an animal shelter, host a blood drive, donate to a food bank or attend an environmental clean-up event. The most important part is to pursue opportunities that align with both your company’s values and your employees.

Final thoughts

Employee wellness programs are beneficial for many reasons, from lower healthcare costs to increased productivity and healthier staff members to higher employee retention. Indeed, as a business, it’s essential to invest in your staff so that they can invest in you.

Do you have a wellness programme already set up in your company? If so, let us know how you maintain employee happiness in the comments section below!

This article is a partial update of an earlier version originally published on February 27, 2019, and contains contributions by Melina Theodorou.