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The data is in! According to a study by Harvard1, “medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs.” Not only that, employee wellness programs2,absenteeism%20by%2014%2D19%25 reduce absenteeism by 14-19%, increase employee happiness at work, and yield a six-to-one return on investment. Now is the time to implement these office wellness ideas to increase profits and create a happier, healthier workplace.

What is an Employee Wellness Program? 

An employee wellness program is designed to assist employees with developing good mental and physical health. The type of program is up to you and can include creative and fun options! 

Employee Wellness Program Quick Tips

Before choosing from our office wellness ideas, make a plan for success with these pro tips. 

Choose the Optimum Time and Location

Think critically about the best times to plan and offer workplace wellness opportunities. 

  • If you’re offering an opportunity over lunch break, is it easy for everyone to access it? 
  • Does everyone take a break around the same time? If not, how can you plan events to include everyone? 

Be Inclusive

While many wellness programs include team sports, smoking cessation, or other competitive options, you may want to reconsider this if that’s all you’re providing. Offer opportunities for varying abilities and needs so everyone feels included and can participate. 

  • If workers are on their feet all day, don’t ask them to expend more physical energy. Instead, choose something that encourages relaxation or reduces pain and stress.
  • If people sit at a desk, encourage movement and inter-department interaction. 

Ensure Leadership Involvement

Investing in employee wellness is a wonderful thing to offer, but it should include leadership involvement. Your employees will be more likely to participate and feel good about their efforts if they know leaders are taking them seriously. 

Have leaders acknowledge and celebrate both big and small wins. 

  • Drop by the person’s desk or send an email when they reach a goal or win a contest. 
  • Announce big wins at meetings or in a company-wide email. 
  • Throw a party to celebrate something the team has been working towards. 


It’s not uncommon for employees to be unaware of the perks and advantages available to them. Often, this is due to a lack of communication from their immediate supervisor.

Some employees may think a wellness program doesn’t apply to them or feel hesitant to ask to participate. You may think good employees will ask, but good managers offer! Take the initiative to educate your employees about what’s available. 

  • Set up a plan to communicate with all staff. This can include emails, posters in the break room, and meeting announcements. 
  • Meet with supervisors and discuss the best way to communicate about getting everyone involved. 

Keep It Optional

There’s nothing worse than being forced into a work-based activity. Regardless of how good-intentioned you are, employees need the freedom and autonomy to engage with a wellness program or not. 

If you notice some employees never participate in anything being offered, have a quick chat with them to see if they’d be interested in participating in something different.


You may have developed an incredible wellness program, but if you’ve noticed employees aren’t participating or seem lackluster about the events and opportunities, it’s time to do something different. 

  • Conduct a survey every 6-12 months to receive feedback on how satisfied your employees are with the current program.  

Ideas for Mental Health and Emotional Well-being

There’s a big disconnect between what employees experience and what CEOs believe when it comes to practicing empathy. 

60% of CEOs believe their companies are empathetic2,absenteeism%20by%2014%2D19%25 towards employees, while only 24% of employees believe employers are empathetic. You can bridge this gap by adding mental health to your wellness program. 

Pro Tip: Letting your employees know you care about them should come before fancy programs or initiatives. Take time to talk to your coworkers, ask how they’re doing, and build a culture of openness.

1. Mindfulness and Meditation Workshops

Top of the list, mindfulness, and meditation workshops are a great way to boost the mental health of your staff. Try an app like Unwinding Anxiety3, invite in an expert, or institute five-minute breathing breaks in the day. 

2. 10-Day Gratitude Challenge

Encourage positivity by organizing a grateful challenge. Ask coworkers to write down one thing they are grateful for every day for ten days. It can be work-related or personal. At the end of the ten days, employees can submit their responses to you in exchange for a gift card, voucher, or small gift. 

3. Commission or (Buy) Local Art

According to research by Harvard Graduate school4, art in the workplace has these benefits: 

  • Promotes social interactions
  • Elicits emotional responses
  • Facilitates personal connection-making
  • Enhances the workplace environment and fosters learning

Pro Tip: Reach out to local artists to commission art for the workplace or even send out a call for art within your company. You may be surprised to discover artistic talent among your coworkers. If that sounds too complicated, take a trip to your local thrift shop and see if you can find a couple of gems. 

4. Counseling Services 

Add mental health services to insurance plans, and leave information about these counseling services in the break room. Many people won’t ask for information or support, so display this information in a way people can easily see and access it. 

5. Provide Educational Resources on Mental Health

Some national organizations in the US include Mental Health America5, the National Alliance on Mental Illness6, and the University of California Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center7

For those outside of the US, try searching “mental health resources near me” or refer to this international directory of mental health helplines8

6. Stress Management Training

83% of Americans experience workplace stress9, and it’s no secret that stress is a worldwide concern. Stressed workers are more likely to make mistakes, miss details, and even skip work. Build in stress management training by inviting an expert to do a webinar or contacting your local mental health services center to see if they offer any workshops. 

7. Massage Services

Support a local masseuse and bring immediate stress relief by offering the ever-popular chair massage. Search for “chair massage near me” or “onsite corporate chair massage.” If your team is remote, offer vouchers or reimbursement for employees to get a massage on their own time. 

8. One-on-One Telephone Counseling Support

This is often an add-on to insurance plans and is a valuable resource to help promote mental health support. Display the phone number in the break room so people can access the support without asking you for the information. 

For remote teams, send out a monthly email that lists the available support opportunities that everyone can access or create a resource hub with information about events, support, and pertinent information. 

9. Government Support Programs

If you’re in the United States, the Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration10 offers several options for supporting your workers. This can include marital and family turmoil; medical, financial, or legal problems; or psychological stressors. All of the support is to prevent substance abuse in the workplace. 

10. Train Managers and Supervisors 

Managers already have a lot to think about, so adding anything new can be challenging. Still, training leaders about mental health can improve workplace communication and help you create a safe and thriving environment to work in. 

Here are several resources to get you started.

  • Mental Health First Aid at Work11
  • A Manager’s Guide to Preventing Burnout
  • Trauma-Informed Workplace Assessment12

11. Provide Resilience Training

Are your coworkers resilient? Resilience is the ability to adapt and recover from stressors and changes. Resilient workers can respond to changes in the workplace, welcome diversity, and thrive even in a fast-paced, high-stress environment. Look for wellness coaches or organizations that specialize in resilience training13

12. Add Light Therapy 

Light therapy can improve mood and energy levels, especially for people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Offer at least partial reimbursement for light therapy lamps, but encourage employees to consult a doctor as some people with severe depression or bipolar have experienced negative impacts14 from light therapy.  

The New York Times offers an in-depth guide to choosing a suitable light therapy lamp15

Physical Health and Fitness

In the US, 7.8 million workers missed work16 in January 2022, and on a global level, absenteeism cost the economy17 an estimated $15 billion annually. Investing in employee health and wellness may reduce absenteeism. 

13. 30-Day Fruit & Vegetable Challenge 

Eating healthy when coworkers are snacking on donuts or cookies is hard. Level the playing field by hosting a 30-Day Fruit & Vegetable Challenge. Provide only fruit and vegetable for snacks and a food log so participants can record each day that they eat at least one fruit and one vegetable.

Offer bonus points for avoiding desserts and eating vegetables at every meal. At the end of the 30 days, have an office party to celebrate the food goals each person has met.

Pro Tip: Offer prizes encouraging participants to continue their new habit of healthy eating. This reward could be a monthly subscription to a healthy food box or a gift card to a local health store. 

14. On-site Fitness Classes

Finding time to get to the gym can seem impossible for busy professionals. Offering on-site fitness classes may reduce this barrier to exercise. 

If your team is remote, host a fitness webinar that staff can attend live or watch the recording when they have the time. 

15. Chiropractic Care

Whether your employees are sitting all day or on their feet, work can take a toll on posture and alignment. 

Chiropractic care can help and isn’t always included in insurance plans. Offer a set amount to be offered monthly or annually. That way, employees can receive reimbursement for either chiropractic care, occupational therapy, or ergonomic desk supplies. 

16. Healthy Eating Help

Another popular offering is a monthly stipend for healthy food access. Some employees prefer to receive a stipend to choose their food options, but sending a predetermined subscription service can also be fun. This can feel more like a gift, and depending on budget, it can be something you offer quarterly, as a holiday gift, or to celebrate big wins. 

Here are some fun subscription boxes to try. 

  • Keto Box18
  • Organic Sprout Box19
  • Hygge Box20
  • Farm to People21
  • Daily Harvest22

17. YouTube Health and Wellness Help

Perfect for complete privacy and no budget required, send out a weekly email with your favorite health and wellness YouTube videos. You can leave coworkers to watch or not at their discretion or incentivize participation with rewards for implementing the techniques in the videos. 

Try these series:

  • The Fit Kit23 Series for beginner fitness
  • Toni Mitchel Workouts24 Workout series, many with no equipment required
  • Health Nut Nutrition Meal Prep25 Series for meal prep hacks, includes videos for family meal prepping

18. Gym Memberships

  1. Gym Memberships

Gym memberships may be the first thing you thought of for your employee wellness program, and don’t dismiss it just because it’s the most obvious option! Offer free or discounted memberships for the gym, personal training, health club, wellness center, or Zumba club.

19. Dance Lessons

If gym memberships sound too boring for your work culture, add a little craziness to the work week by hosting line dancing, hip hop, or salsa lessons at the office. 

While line dancing can offer a real workout, it’s also easier to participate in, even with physical limitations, than other types of dancing. Take into consideration the varying abilities of your employees and what fits your company culture. Offer lessons over lunch, as an end-of-the-week activity, or after work. 

Pro Tip: If you have any employees with physical disabilities, don’t dismiss dance! Look for a dance instructor who knows how to adapt dance for those in wheelchairs or with other physical limitations. 

20. Monthly Health Screening 

You may already offer a monthly healthy screening, but have you considered incentivizing participation? Some of your coworkers may hesitate to participate, and offering an incentive can help remove that reluctance. 

Some workplaces or insurance programs offer a reduced copay for people who participate in a monthly screening. This great option can go a long way in reducing the stress around healthcare for your employees.  

21. Smoking Cessation 

The Great American Smokeout26, previously called FreshStart, is a program from the American Cancer Society to help people quit smoking. Whether you use the program from the American Cancer Society or your insurance offers smoking cessation incentives, ensure your employees know this is an option. 

Pro Tip: If you aren’t in the US, many countries have smoking cessation services as a part of their national or regional health services, such as the NHS in the UK27 Check the website of your national health service to see what’s available in your country. 

22. Lunch Walk

Get the team moving with a walking program over lunch. Consider offering an extra 15 minutes to the lunch break so employees have time to grab a bite to eat before going for a walk. 

Set up a digital log where employees can record the days and distance they walked and keep a leaderboard for the distance walked and display it in the break room. 

If lunch walks aren’t suitable for your team, use an app like Employee Step28 to make walking fun and improve employee health. 

23. Offer Better Vending Machine Options

Whether you forgot to make lunch or a client call has you ready to sabotage your healthy eating goals, the office vending machine makes healthy eating hard! 

Offer healthier vending machine snacks like beef jerky, trail mix, energy bars, fruit drinks, dried fruit, and gluten-free cookies. 

24. Plants in the Workspace

A study by Exeter University found that plants at work29 can make employees 15% more productive when an employee could see a plant from their desk.  

Before you invest in remodeling the office to be sleek and minimalistic, try adding plants and flowers in view of all your workers. You may see improvement in productivity, as well as improving air quality in the work environment30

Here are some popular workplace plants31 to start:

  • Spider Plant
  • Mass Cane Plant
  • Rubber Tree
  • Red Ivy

25. Nurse Hotline

Telehealth is a growing trend in medical care and is an excellent option for remote and in-person workers. Offering a nurse hotline can do wonders to reduce worker stress and even limit unnecessary visits to the emergency room.

26. Small Equipment Incentive

Effective wellness programs include office teamwork. And we don’t mean team track and field day or other competitive sports! Instead, work together as an office to meet health goals. Once you determine those goals, offer rewards that encourage maintaining and expanding those health goals. This could include pedometers, small exercise equipment, or healthy snacks.

27. Alternative Seating Options

Don’t institute a company-wide chair change, but offer alternative seating for those who would like it. 

Pro Tip: None of the alternative seating trends are healthy to use all day. Consider adding a fun workroom where people can go when they need a break from the desk.

Include a couple of yoga balls, a standing workspace, a kneeling workspace, and some fuzzy rugs and pillows for ultimate lounging. Creating a workspace anyone can enter removes the need to purchase or reimburse items for individual workers. 

28. Healthy Cooking Contest

Instead of the usual cycle of donuts, cookies, cake, bagels, or leftover pizza, add healthy cooking contests to change the type of food available at work. Each month, pick a theme and ask coworkers to bring a dish (if they want) to compete for a prize. Set up a voting box so voting can take place over the course of a day instead of at a set time.

Themes could include gluten-free, vegan, keto, diabetic-friendly, etc. 

29. Storage Room Exercise

One office turned an unused storage room into a bike room. Other than adding showers, this required minimum renovation and was a good use of the space available. 

Get creative when thinking about how to offer fitness options to your employees! 

30. Deskercise Reminders

Send out a daily deskercise reminder to encourage employees to stop and take a moment to stretch or exercise when they receive the email. This doesn’t have to be labor intensive! 

Set up an email that auto-sends each day at a set time and includes a simple deskercise video—it can be the same video every time. If you want to get fancy, add a daily affirmation or an inspiring quote

Work-Life Balance

Employees spend around ⅓ of their life at work32! With so much time spent working, it can be an ongoing challenge for employees to find a good work-life balance. Try these solutions to help workers find a good work-life balance. 

31. Flexible Work Arrangements

While most people have transitioned back to the office, the extended time working from home has made employees even more desirous of flexible work arrangements. If you can’t offer fully remote, providing some flexibility is essential.

“Workers who have full schedule flexibility are reporting 29% higher productivity and 53% greater ability to focus than workers with no ability to shift their schedule.”

Future Forum

Here are some ideas:

  • Half days
  • Three days at home, two at the office
  • Work from home except for important meetings or client interactions
  • Four-day work week—offer this during your slow season 
  • Flextime—workers choose when the day starts and ends

Pro Tip: Each employee has different needs; offer options based on the needs and preferences of each employee—as long as the work is getting done and the team remains connected. 

32. Paid Time Off Policies

Putting in long hours and never taking a break may sound like a committed employee, but it takes a toll on the physical and mental health. Encourage your employees to balance work and rest; you’ll likely see increased productivity, fewer mistakes, and better work. 

Offering paid time off gives staff the freedom to take the break they need. 

Pro Tip: Add a paid day off for birthdays. Let employees use this as a floating day off so that they can take it on their birthday or another day. 

33. Wellness Workshops 

Offer workshops on time management and organization to help employees make better use of their time. Once someone masters time management, they can usually do more work with less effort. In turn, this might reduce work-related stress. 

34. Offer Paid Parental Leave

If you live in a country that doesn’t automatically offer paid parental leave, it’s time to make a change both for the good of your employees and the general good of the wider community. 

Some countries, like France, require a set amount of time worked before they offer maternity leave. However you structure it, look for a way to provide this much-needed wellness program for both mothers and fathers.

Fast Fact: The US is one of the few countries without a national parental paid leave33 policy in the UN. 

35. Offer Recharge Days or Synchronous Breaks

While you may offer paid time off and encourage staff to work their time effectively, the pressure of their responsibilities may make it more stressful to take time off. 

Adjust workloads if needed and offer days where the entire office takes a break or a single department can take a recharge day. 

36. Set Clear Communication Standards

The workday used to be clearly defined, but as messaging apps like Slack or Whatsapp dominate the workplace and employees have work email on their phones, the lines have become increasingly blurred. 

Make sure employees know they don’t have to respond at all hours, especially if you’re working across time zones. Employees should feel free to send emails when they are at their desks (even if it’s 2 am) but, in turn, should not feel pressured to respond until they’ve started their workday. 

What to understand the best way to communicate with your team? This training has all the answers you’ll need. 

Master Your People Skills

  • Create a Memorable Presence
  • Communicate with Confidence
  • Achieve Your Goals

Have a question about the presentation or People School? Email Science of People support.

37. Reward Everyone, Not Just Overachievers

It may feel counterintuitive, but resist the urge to praise or reward workers who work when the office is closed or regularly stay past closing time. This can create an unhealthy work environment where others feel pressured to overwork or not receive recognition because they have boundaries around their work and personal life. Instead, reward everyone when they do good work! 

38. Clear Out Toxic Employees

There are few things more damaging to a workplace than toxic employees. These people sabotage team morale and undermine positivity. First, start with intervention and see if their behavior changes. If it doesn’t, it may be time to let them go. 

Environmental and Sustainability

According to Forbes, 100 companies are responsible for 71% of the world’s greenhouse gas34 emissions. While you may not work for one of those 100 companies, we all have a role to play in caring for the future of our world. Here are some fun and simple ways to make a difference. 

39. Coffee Grounds for Composting

Place a sign by the coffee pot requesting that all coffee grounds be saved for composting. Supply paper bags or reusable containers for this purpose, and either use the coffee grounds to create an onsite worm farm or have a sign that encourages gardeners to take the coffee grounds for their use. 

40. Add a Seed Library

You may have seen these at your local library, but if you haven’t, a seed library is a collection of seeds people can take and even bring back their own seed. This can be a fun way to create community between coworkers. Ask gardeners to bring in seeds, and offer seeds for anyone. You can also set up a corkboard and display photos of the plants or flowers that grow from the seed exchange library. 

41. Provide Recycle Bins With Clear Labeling

When it comes to recycling, it helps to make it as easy as possible, especially for workers who may already feel rushed on their work break. Put clear labels of what to place in which bin for recycling, and ask volunteers to check the containers for anything incorrectly recycled.  

42. Recycle Printer Cartridges

Businesses produce a lot of trash, and recycling printer cartridges is just one way to reduce this environmental impact. Check with local charities and organizations to see if they receive ink cartridges or drop them off at a local supermarket or electronics store. 

43. Incentivize Ride Sharing

First, send an email to find out who is interested and then organize carpooling groups by location. Make sure each group has guidelines for expectations (be on-time, no smoking, will drivers alternate or will one person drive and the others contribute to gas, etc.). Once the groups settle into a rhythm, ask them to submit a monthly log. Incentivize the ride-sharing by reimbursing a portion of their monthly gas costs. 

44. Regularly Clean Air Filters 

Not only do dirty air filters cause dirty air, but they also reduce the efficiency of air conditioners. Clean filters regularly to ensure your air conditioners aren’t working overtime to keep you cool. And while you’re at it, you can save 3-5% energy35 by adjusting your thermostat only one degree! 

45. Swap Shops

People love getting free items, and you may be surprised by how excited your coworkers might be about that lotion you never use or the pair of socks your grandma gave you for Christmas. 

Set up a swap shop where everyone brings in a bag of good-quality items a week before the event. This means no stains, rips, or broken things. 

Set out all the items in the conference room or another area with a large table, and let everyone pick out three to five things. At the end of the day, box everything up and donate it. 

Pro Tip: If organizing a swap shop sounds too much, set up a free table in the break room. Anyone can bring items they no longer want and take anything they like. 

46. Host a Farmer’s Market 

Local farmers need your support! Invite a local farmer to set up produce on Friday afternoons so employees can efficiently grocery shop for the weekend while accessing healthy produce. 

47. Plant a Garden

Do you have a space outside that could be turned into a garden? It doesn’t matter if it’s a full plot that employees can use as a shared garden space or a couple of planters with herbs! Look for ways to incorporate more plants, especially edible plants, into your environment.

Have interested coworkers sign up to take care of a planter or plot.  

48. Invest in a Clean Water System

Help staff limit their bottled water purchases by offering clean water at work. There are a number of water filter systems you could use. 

Want to add a nice touch? Give employees a branded water bottle that’s either glass or stainless steel.

Pro Tip: Encourage employees to donate what they save on water each month to a clean water organization like Charity: Water36

Community Involvement and Volunteering

Businesses have a special role to play in the community, and including your employees in this may increase their sense of purpose through volunteering and philanthropic efforts.

49. 5K for Charity

A popular way to get employees moving is to combine health and community involvement. Find a local 5K and encourage employees to sign up to participate. You can also pledge to donate a specific amount to the charity if a certain number of employees participate. Ask employees to vote on the charity that matters most to them.

Pro Tip: Offer extra support for training, especially if most people haven’t done a 5K before. Mayo Clinic has a 7-week training schedule for beginners37, and many apps provide help to prepare for a 5K.

50. Annual Food Drive

Many companies and organizations run a food drive around Christmas, so consider doing a food drive for the summer months. 

While many children are provided with food at school with free-lunch programs, they may go hungry over the summer. Reach out to local food pantries, churches, or nonprofits, and find out how you can help. 

51. Sponsor a Family or Person In Need

Is there a local organization you can work with to sponsor a family for a holiday? You may be familiar with Angel Tree Christmas, which provides gifts to the children of prison inmates. Fewer people know that some homeless shelters have opportunities to give the homeless gifts at Christmas time. Can you sponsor a group or holiday to make it better for someone in your community?

52. Support Passion Projects

What are your employees doing outside of work? Do they volunteer regularly, have their own nonprofit, or plan to launch a new product? Encourage employees to share what they are passionate about and look for ways to support those passions. 

This could include:

  • Investing capital
  • Offering paid volunteer time for other coworkers to support a local cause
  • Providing connections or internships to children of employees
  • Offering mentoring

53. Mentor Local Youth

Encourage employees to train or mentor local youth, especially in communities where young people are at a disadvantage. Reach out to the local Boys and Girls Club, or connect with local schools to identify youth with promise who may be struggling. 

54. Sponsor an Animal Adoption Fair

We are all about puppies at work! Why not connect with your local animal shelter and sponsor an adoption fair? This will bring the community onto your property, and you can even set up an information booth, so the community knows you have more to offer than cuddly pets.  

55. Host a Youth Orchestra 

Student musicians (and artists!) are always looking for opportunities to add to their resumes. Invite a youth orchestra to perform at the office. 

Not only will you be investing in the future, but it could also be a relaxing break for your team. It doesn’t have to be a full concert; ask the orchestra if they are willing to perform a 30-45 minute concert, so it doesn’t cut into the whole workday. 

Bonus Creative and Fun Activities

Add more fun programs to your employee wellness plan to help your coworkers tap into their creative side. While these ideas aren’t specifically for mental or physical health, each activity will have wide-reaching benefits beyond just having fun!  

  • Start a jump rope club 
  • Offer blue-light-blocking glasses
  • Host walking meetings
  • Place fidget toys on conference tables
  • Set up a fun exercise corner with hula hoops, jump ropes, punching bags, etc.
  • Turn a storage closet into a nap room for lunchtime naps
  • Celebrate the completion of large projects
  • Welcome new hires with lunch out
  • Celebrate funny holidays like national donut day or international tongue twister day
  • Host a white elephant gift exchange in June
  • Gift company swag
  • Add a book nook
  • Host improv or a dad jokes zoom call
  • Order in lunch, but make it good 

Are Employee Wellness Programs Worth It? 

Yes, employee wellness programs are absolutely worth it! 

While a successful program requires serious attention to detail and is developed specifically with your team in mind, having such a program is an important part of your business plan. 

There is a clear connection between a healthy company and healthy employees. These are some of the outcomes of a wellness program.

  • Increase morale
  • Create resilience
  • Build team connections
  • Reduce workplace stress
  • Increase productivity
  • Encourage overall wellness

Employee wellness programs can give your staff much-needed support for their overall wellness needs. 

The right program can make you more attractive to an increasingly selective workforce. As you continue to build the strength of your team, check out our 20 Awesome (& Fun) Ways To Motivate Employees.

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