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A selection of employee wellness programme ideas to retain your team

By Angela Knox | Feb 25, 2021

 

Wellbeing and wellness is a vast topic and comes in all kinds of forms.  There are a host of ideas a company can deploy internally which involve the whole company, which increase wellbeing on many levels and can really create cohesion amongst employees.

From discussions with clients we find that there is no limit to the ideas employers can put in place and try different ideas to see what resonates.  In these days of more working from home, they take a different form, however the possibilities are endless and only limited by imagination.

Here are a few practical ideas from our experience and inspiration:

Fitness challenges

These can take many forms, and now people are working mostly at home, they are geared around what people can do at home or within the limits of what is allowed.  

Whilst activities currently have to be pursued individually, by being involved in a virtual team or group, there is more of an incentive to complete the challenges and develop healthy routines that will become habit-forming.

Within our Keep Fit Eat Fit (KFEF) programme there are many different choices of exercise videos, including short sharp bursts of simple exercise to do in a work environment, as well as more active HiiT, stretching and other workouts. 

They cover different age groups, life stage and abilities, so an employer can set different targets for employees to achieve week by week, and the employee can measure their progress, and compete with their co-workers.  Ask your employees to note how many exercise videos they use per day, and total them up for the week.  

As well as this option, you can set up competitions around running a mile a day - get people to send in pictures too (before and after).  This could be encouraged as the first action of the day to get into a good habit.  An alternative would be a 2-mile walk, which is equally good to get the blood flowing, fresh air into the lungs, and a positive mindset for the day.

Cookathon

Use the KFEF recipe selector to pick out some healthy recipes your team can enjoy preparing for lunch on work days, and compare notes on results. 

Take photos of the end result and post them on your social media channels, you can also use tag KFEF and see your posts in the social media wall in your portal.

Go meatless on Monday - challenge your staff to build this into their week, and share the recipes they have chosen.

Water drinking challenge

Hydration is vital to life and health, and most people don’t drink enough water.  Tea, coffee and other drinks don’t count, in fact some can dehydrate you, and sugary carbonated drinks just add unnecessary calories.  

Filtered or bottled water should be on your work desk through the day, and sipping regularly is the best option. 

Get your employees to use a large glass and count and record the number of glasses or litres they get through in a day, over the course of a couple weeks. 

It’s another great habit-forming exercise and employees can compare with their colleagues and see what a difference it makes to their overall health and alertness. 

You can check in with them at the end of each day so you can keep a running record, prizes for the largest total!

Book club

Reading is a great pastime which is not only good for expanding knowledge, but also for increasing mental health - an effective way of refocusing your mind away from work.

You can ask your team about subjects they enjoy reading about, and form book clubs where small groups can get together and compare notes about books they have read.

Do a quarterly and annual review and see how this affects people’s general state of contentedness over time - prizes for the most books read - a Waterstone’s voucher would be the obvious choice!

Talent club

Give your employees a chance to show off their unique skills to the rest of the company. 

If you have any musicians, comics or people with arts and crafts skills, give them a platform to share it with the group - you can set up a time to do this on zoom so everyone can view but it’s only open to company employees. 

If you want to make it public you can host on Facebook live and reach a wider audience, rather like a special edition of Britain’s Got Talent.

Wellness Wednesday

Wednesday is a good day to pick because it is in the middle of the week - give your employees the chance to do something they enjoy at intervals during the day, and focus on a particular activity which helps them. 

This could be reading, walking, meditation, a mindfulness session, listening to music, or whatever they choose.

They can report back on what they have done and how it has affected their day, and other colleagues can get inspiration from the ideas people share.

KFEF digital awards competitions

In our platform users collect digital awards as they use the modules.

So the more videos you watch, podcasts you listen to, or articles you read, you amass awards which are shown on your dashboard. 

You can run inter-company competitions to see who collects the most awards in a month or quarter, and give a prize for the most collected.

Gift boxes

During the work from home era, this is a firm favourite.  Getting a package delivered at home - especially if it’s a surprise - is a great boost to your mood and helps with employee recognition.

There are plenty of companies out there offering this service, or you can collate your own based on preference and budget. 

If you plan the year’s activities in advance you can purchase items in bulk to put into the boxes, keep stock and distribute to team members at the appropriate time, mixing and matching the components accordingly.

It’s a useful way of making an occasion out of an event, like a piece of work well done, a new client gained, a target reached or someone’s birthday!

Special interest clubs

Gardening, chess, bridge, sport, music, theatre, sewing, fashion, investments, learning languages  - the list is endless and solely depends on your employee base and their interests.

Join people together with mutual interests, or those who want to expand into new areas, and give them opportunities to virtually pursue those that have the most appeal. 

They can take them offline when the pandemic is over, and attend live events and pursue activities in person!

Experts hour

Do a poll of your employees and find out which topics they would be most interested to hear from a qualified expert on. 

It could be a topic they missed out on at school, like history or geography, a leisure pursuit, a travel topic, or a business subject they want to learn about.

Make it into a regular event, and it will create cohesion amongst the workforce, appreciation, and the conveying of new learnings to enhance their knowledge and insights.

Staff surveys

These are always good staples, as they give HR a measure of what is happening within the company and how people think, about their job, their environment, the company culture, ideas for things they would like to see happen, and those they don’t like so much.

It’s always important to ask your employees for their ideas and feedback, and also be seen to be implementing any changes that are identified.

Stress circle

Stress either at work or in a home situation is a negative emotion if it is allowed to build. 

Discussing problems with close colleagues can be a great way of dispersing them, and learning new and practical ways to address them, from someone who is objective and able to offer good advice.  

It can be as simple as sharing ideas that employees have used or are using to prevent or cope with stressful situations, or just lending an ear to people who are experiencing too much stress and need an outlet.  

Setting aside a time and day every couple of weeks to hold a stress circle session can be a great help to many people, especially when they know it’s always going to be there for them if and when it’s needed.  

It would be a good idea to include your mental health first aider in the sessions so that they can identify and help with any particular work related issues, signposting them to more specialist help where needed.

Walking meetings

If you can have at least some of your meetings while walking, you will find it enormously beneficial to your concentration levels, and it ensures you increase your step count during the day by multi-tasking in this way. 

It can often lead to a more constructive exchange of ideas, as the blood is flowing better to the brain, and you can also take in the outdoors which helps to lift your mood.

Track your sleep challenge

Sleep is all important for health and productivity, and work related stress is one of the major causes of sleep deprivation. 

We have a complete suite of tools within the Sleep Fit section of our KFEF programme, which will help to form good sleep habits, so you can ensure quality of sleep.

The other aspect is quantity - most of us don’t get enough.  If you keep a sleep diary for a few weeks and note down the time you go to bed and the time you wake up, over a period of time you can compete with your colleagues to max out your hours of sleep.

Prices for the best results should be given, and the winners can share their experiences!

Save some money challenge

Financial wellbeing is all important to wellbeing as a whole, and you can get your employees into the regular saving habit by not only working through our Money Fit module, but also competing with colleagues on building up savings, and exchanging ideas on where to save their money.

Everyone loves a bargain, and you can pass your tips and tricks on to colleagues and help them save money on expenditure, and save the extra funds into a rainy day or holiday fund. 

Quizzes

This is the work equivalent of the pub quiz - can be held over zoom very easily. 

You can pick themes or just general knowledge.  You will need a quiz master who will source the questions, keep the scores and over a few weeks build up a points tally - prizes for the winners! 

A great way to keep employees engaged and breaking up their day with a non work related activity.

Volunteering

Social causes are vital opportunities for employees to give back to their communities and derive real satisfaction from doing so.

Charities love working with businesses and employees, it tends to create a commitment from individuals, especially if the employer encourages regular participation in charitable activities with an hourly or daily allowance of work time that can be deployed.

It is often part of a an employee benefits package and can really help to build a sense of wellbeing.

Digital detox

Creating a break from digital devices for a period of time in the working day, and certainly at weekends, helps to enhance wellness, de-stress, prevent eye problems, and focus on person to person communication. 

Too much time spent looking at digital devices and the effect of their blue light especially at night is not conducive to good quality sleep, and creates mental overload. 

Making employees aware of their screen time is a good habit to encourage, so they can set limits and consciously move away from the computer, whilst also limiting time spent on a mobile phone.

Birthday treats

Every employee’s birthday should be logged in the company calendar, and recognised when it comes to the day. 

A birthday card and/or present, and even a day off so employees can enjoy their day as they choose is a popular benefit for companies to offer.  It creates a sense of reward, recognition and engagement at a time that is most appreciated.

 

So that's the end of our round-up - let us know what works for you!

Angela Knox

Angela Knox

I am a co-founder and director of Keep Fit Eat Fit Wellbeing Ltd and have come from a business and marketing background over many years, with a particular interest in everything to do with health, fitness and overall wellbeing. Having worked in offices for decades, I know the pitfalls of too much sitting at a desk, the challenges of fitting the gym around other commitments, and all the issues addressed within our website. The personal experiences of me and my partner Mark were the original inspiration for the concept of this website. Enjoy!