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12 Employee Well-Being Initiatives to Implement in Your Workplace

May 19, 2022
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7 mins

Everyone's definition of employee well-being is unique. Consider these twelve employee well-being initiatives to find one that fits your team and workplace needs.

Linda Le Phan
Everyone's definition of employee well-being is unique. Consider these twelve employee well-being initiatives to find one that fits your team and workplace needs.

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Just like how you take your coffee, your approach to wellness is unique. 

For company leaders, this means that if you ask each of your employees what wellbeing support would be most valuable to them, the range of responses would be huge.

With workplace burnout on the rise, today's people-first organizations are listening closely to what their people are saying. 

Studies found that 53% of small companies and 81% of large companies have wellness programs of some kind, but the question is: how effective are they?

We dive into employee wellbeing initiatives that you can consider once you gather the feedback from your employees and are ready to develop a strong well-being strategy for your organization. 

Game-changing employee wellbeing initiatives

Offering the right wellness initiative is a powerful tool for creating a positive employee experience. Survey your employees to understand what they want, and use these well-being initiatives to kickstart your brainstorming.

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Want to do more to support mental health in your workplace?

Take the Pledge

1. Reflect and iterate on company values

Your company values are a major factor that likely convinced many of your team members to join in the first place. Don't take that for granted. Take time to reflect on your company values and iterate on them if you feel like your organization has evolved in a different direction since you formed them. 

This exercise makes a difference in employee wellbeing because it saves your employees from one of the most significant sources of employee stress — the misalignment of values

If you make updates to your company values, remember to communicate them. This ensures everyone's on the same page and that your company values reflect your current workplace. 


2. Improve work-life balance

Work-life balance has always contributed to employee well-being because it represents how they're managing the push and pull of their personal life versus professional responsibilities.  

However, work-life balance oftentimes looks different today compared to several years ago due to remote and hybrid work. This calls for company leaders to approach work-life balance with fresh eyes and with distributed team members top of mind. 

Some ideas to improve work-life balance include introducing no-meeting days, flex work hours, and virtual team-building events

3. Support local communities

A straightforward goal of wellbeing initiatives is to provide employees an opportunity to feel good about themselves. What's a better way to spread feel-good energy around your team than to help them be kind to others? 

To turn kindness into a well-being initiative, give your employees a chance to support their local communities. Some activities include organizing volunteer days, giving them a budget to shop locally, or donating to specific local charities on your employees' behalf. 

4. Offer wellbeing stipends

As we touched on once before, everyone views well-being differently. So instead of searching for the perfect initiative that'll satisfy the majority of your workforce, why not let employees choose the well-being support that fits their life? 

That's the beauty of offering well-being stipends as a wellness initiative. It allows you to address an infinite variety of employee needs without making it complicated for your team to organize. 

Decide on your budget per person, how you'd like to distribute the funds, and then communicate the offering to your employees. Companies like Microsoft and Hubspot, offer wellness or fitness reimbursement as an employee health benefit.

Don't forget about taxes, though, since this type of stipend is taxable. Using a stipend management tool like Compt can help with tax compliance while also allowing you to set up an automatically recurring wellbeing stipend to support your employees' long-term wellness journeys. 

5. Empower managers with a monthly stipend

In addition to providing well-being stipends for the gym or fitness classes, try creating a manager stipend program, which allows managers to personalize well-being offerings to their direct reports. 

Budget $25 - $50 to every manager, per employee and trust them to personalize and surprise their staff with gifts for their hard work. This could be a gift card to their favorite salad lunch spot, or a water bottle for their new road bike. Your managers know their direct reports best, so equipping them with a well-being budget will help them support and build rapport with their staff. 

6. Consider the four-day workweek

Once viewed as an extreme shift in workplace norms, the four-day workweek has become a popular new trend that many companies worldwide have explicitly implemented for employee wellbeing. 

The concept is that employees work four days per week and always have a three-day weekend. As a result, this leads to better work-life balance, increased productivity, and a stronger sense of trust and autonomy to do their work.  

Some companies with a permanent four-day workweek setup are Buffer, Wildbit, The Wanderlust Group, Basecamp, Starship, and Kickstarter. Of course, it won't work for every company, but a four-day workweek offers huge benefits to employee wellbeing where it does work.

7. Improve manager training programs

A recent McKinsey study shows that an employee's relationship with management is a top factor in their job satisfaction and overall wellbeing. And it isn't just management in general: 75% of employees said that the most stressful aspect of their job was their immediate boss.

Helping your managers become more empathetic and supportive managers is an unconventional well-being initiative that you can feel confident about since it's rooted in data. 

Whether it's having your managers take a management training course, bringing in a trainer or speaker, or organizing a managers' workshop or retreat, you can help your employees by helping their managers, too. 

8. Invest in employee personal and professional development

For some employees, stagnation in their role and professional growth is a major source of stress and dissatisfaction. This can eventually lead to total disengagement, which leaves the rest of the team to pick up the slack when that employee leaves. Employee wellbeing isn't a priority if this is a regular occurrence.

However, you can prevent this scenario from happening in your organization by actively investing in your employees' personal and professional development. 

Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Offer a professional development stipend to pay for employees' books, conferences, courses, and other learning resources.
  • Have regular discussions between managers and reports about career progression and growth opportunities.
  • Organize lunch-and-learn sessions where team members can learn from each other.

9. Cover employee wellbeing in all-hands meetings

There's no guarantee that your employees will react positively to a new employee well-being initiative. As with many HR programs, it takes time, communication, and consistency with your message and intent. And even then, employees may or may not utilize it. 

Including employee wellbeing as a standard discussion in your all-hands meetings is a great way to rally team members around the topic of wellness. This helps you gain buy-in for your wellness initiatives, which is crucial if you want to foster a workplace environment where wellbeing is a priority. 

In addition, talking about it signals to your employees that you're serious about improving their well-being, while also creating a natural opportunity for employees to share feedback with leadership. 


10. Invest in the right tools

 

Addressing employee wellbeing in your organization is a marathon, not a sprint. And while you could try to tackle it without using any tools, why make life harder than it needs to be? 

By incorporating one or more helpful wellbeing-related apps and tools into a comprehensive wellness program, you broaden your ability to support your employees while also taking advantage of what today's technology has to offer. 

Here are a few examples of employee wellness tools with their costs:

  • Headspace: A mediation app. Offers free trial, starts at $12.99 per month.
  • Calm: A mediation app. Offers free trial, starts at $14.99 per month.
  • Kona: A Slack integration for daily mental health check-ins. The free plan is free forever, and paid plans start at $99 per month per team.
  • Lumosity: A cognitive training app with brain games and puzzles. Free and paid plans are available, starting at $11.99 per month.
  • Compt: Wellness stipend management software. Priced by team size. 
  • Smiling Mind: A mindfulness meditation app for all ages. Free. 

11. Ask for feedback

No two organizations are alike, and therefore, some well-being initiatives will be more successful at some companies than others. Eliminate unnecessary guesswork by gathering input from the people whose opinions matter most: your employees. 

Get employee feedback about their wellbeing during your employee engagement surveys. You can also ask managers to bring up the topic at their next one-on-one meetings or introduce daily mental health check-ins with a tool like Kona

Either way, asking for employee feedback helps you uncover your team's genuine needs, and it also helps team members feel heard and appreciated — a win-win situation for everyone.

12. Set a good example

When many leaders think about well-being, the first things that come to mind are physical, emotional, and mental health. But another important part of it is psychological safety. 

Psychological safety in the work setting is a shared feeling of trust, understanding, and openness, even in the face of conflicts and problems. It takes time to foster psychological safety within a team, but the reward is an environment where employees feel confident, accepted, and willing to take risks.

Creating psychological safety for your employees as a leader starts with setting a good example in your own actions. This entails positive behaviors like:

  • Taking care of your own wellness.
  • Being self-aware.
  • Saying "no" at times. 
  • Being open about your struggles.
  • Listening without judgment.
  • Actively creating a "safe space." 

Learn about the impact of employee wellbeing on business.

Employee wellbeing is critical to the success of your organization, and it directly impacts every one of your employees' quality of life. Try one—or all—of these twelve employee wellbeing initiatives and see how they affect your team's engagement, performance, and overall happiness to work. 

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Meet the Author

Linda Le Phan

Linda is a Boston-based content writer with 10 years of experience crafting content for human-centric B2B brands. She covers topics like remote work, productivity, recruitment, mental health, and more. Her goal is to promote transparency, empathy, and honest introspection within companies and their leaders.

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