The concept of workplace wellness isn’t just some trendy initiative—it can be a sustainable and holistic approach to increasing employee satisfaction, motivation and retention for the long-term. In fact, an emphasis on health boosts morale and productivity.
But there’s no need to shell out the funds for an on-site massage therapist or fitness center, especially if you’re a startup with fixed budget constraints. Instead, these five ideas promote workplace wellness from a practical, inexpensive standpoint. The focus is on enhancing performance and maintaining a company culture that regards each employee as not just a number—but as an asset whose overall health matters.
Create an Open and Calming Space
When configuring the physical setup of your office, maximize natural light sources to brighten and energize the atmosphere. Limit the use of cubicle dividers, fostering team communication and collaboration to refresh the mind, sharpen focus, and moderate stress.
Don’t forget to decorate with indoor plants like ferns, bamboo, palm trees or aloe vera, which are low-maintenance air purifiers that help reduce both tension and fatigue. If possible, create a meditation or stand-up desk space that can be shared by employees throughout the day.
Make Healthy Snacks Accessible
Instead of stocking the break room with doughnuts or catering Chipotle burritos at board meetings, purge junk food from the office and offer nutritious alternatives instead. Not just for your employees, but for the business too: “Employees who eat healthy all day long were 25 percent more likely to have higher job performance,” reported Business News Daily.
Plant-based options like fruit, raw vegetables, protein bars, almonds, sunflower seeds, hummus or dark chocolate sustain mental stamina throughout the workday. They’re also easy to stock and can be purchased in individual packs, perfect for employees to take back to their desks.
Opt for Moving Instead of Sitting
Research indicates the average office worker spends about 10 hours sitting on a daily basis which increases the health risk for diabetes, cancer, depression, heart disease, obesity, and joint or muscle issues. Rather than remaining sedentary for long stretches of time, sneak exercise into the workplace through incentives like standing desks instead of office chairs, and outdoor walks instead of conference room gatherings.
Start an office-walking initiative, encouraging employees to walk together at lunch and take walking meetings. You can incentivize this with a simple reward system that doesn’t cost a lot to implement. Reward employees with things like: work from home half-day, half-day Fridays, catered lunch, company-sponsored breakfast, etc.
Plan Active Team-Building Events
Don’t just move in the office; organize an outing that encourages both physical activity and employee bonding for one Friday afternoon a month—this way, employees don’t have to make time outside of work hours.
One fun idea is to take all the members of your department rock climbing. This active, collaborative pursuit ranked second in most popular hobbies for 2016, and requires teamwork as employees belay and spot one another. Other active, team-building activities might include:
- Game of whiffle ball or kickball
- Group hike or day at the park—for the latter, be sure to bring soccer balls, Frisbees, a Bocce set or other items employees can use to say active.
- Stand-up paddle boarding or surfing (if you’re near a body of water)
- Volunteer event like Habitat for Humanity
Host In-Office Wellness Workshops
Take office wellness a step further by bringing professionals into the office. They can teach your employees new techniques and strategies for being healthy in a fun, group setting. Here are a few workshops to consider:
- Self-Defense: This is a fun, and non-traditional workshop idea that will empower employees and get them up and moving. When looking for a self-defense instructor, Jeremy Pollack, self-defense expert for The Home Security Super Store suggests looking for an instructor who has a real-world training style (more applicable to employees), videos you can watch, and is a good fit for your culture.
- Cooking Class: If you have a full kitchen in your office, this is a fun way to help employees learn how to cook healthier. Check with your local community college to find the right chef for your workshop. They may have cooking professors to recommend.
- Meditation Workshop: Meditation is consistently noted as one of the most effective methods for reducing stress and improving overall well-being; yet people cite not being able to “get into it” as the reason for not giving it a try. Check with nearby yoga studios to find someone who can lead the workshop. Many yoga teachers are also trained in meditation.
Wellness isn’t just a buzzword thrown around in “yuppie” culture, and best yet, doesn’t even require extravagant additions to your business infrastructure. Instead, think outside the office ping-pong table and refrigerator packed with organic cold-pressed juice. These wholesome hacks are simple to implement and keep overhead costs to a minimum—all while improving employee wellness and showing you care.