Workplace well-being activities are more important than ever, especially now that job burnout has become a common cause for resignations across America. 

According to a 2020 report released by analytics firm Gallup, 74% of employees have claimed that they experienced symptoms of job burnout due to various reasons, including heavy workloads and subpar management. 

Whatever the reason, these stress-related burnout symptoms often lead to absenteeism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that absenteeism in America costs businesses more than $225 billion in productivity losses every year. 

9 Workplace Well-Being Activities to Skyrocket Employee Productivity

One way to protect your company from absenteeism-related productivity losses is to implement a corporate wellness program that promotes workplace well-being for your employees.

But what is workplace well-being? And what are concrete examples of health and workplace well-being activities that you can adopt for your business?

Read on for our comprehensive guide.

What is Workplace Well-Being?

Gallup defines workplace well-being as “you like what you do at work every day.” Labor organizations have taken this a step further with more in-depth definitions.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), workplace well-being encompasses all elements of an employee’s working life. 

These elements could include:

  • The overall quality of the workplace
  • The safety of the workplace
  • The working environment
  • How the employee feels about his or her job
  • The climate at the workplace
  • The organization’s hierarchy and management

The ILO further states that for an employee to achieve optimal workplace well-being, they must be physically and mentally healthy. They must also feel safe, satisfied, and engaged as they work.

RELATED: 17 Employee Wellness Program Ideas to Increase Engagement

Importance of Workplace Well-Being Activities

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) offers a more detailed outline of what constitutes workplace well-being. According to the organization, workplace well-being involves:

Good Health

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Physical safety

Quality of Work

  • Good work environment
  • Autonomy
  • Demands of the job
  • People management policies
  • Open communication

Sound Values and Principles

  • Standards of ethics
  • Diversity / Inclusion
  • Leadership

Healthy Social Dynamics

  • Relationships with colleagues or with the team
  • Involvement in team activities

Room for Personal Growth

  • Career development or enrichment
  • Emotional bonding with the team
  • New skills training
  • Creativity

Quality of Lifestyle Choices

  • Diet choices
  • Physical activity choices

Financial Well-Being

  • Appropriate salary
  • Benefits
  • Employee financial assistance programs
  • Retirement planning
workplace well-being activities

Threats to Workplace Well-Being

Many factors may threaten an employee’s well-being. Let us look at some of them:

Burnout due to excessive workload. Workloads can become overwhelming if the company is understaffed. Work stress can also be caused by improperly set deadlines due to poor planning or delegation by management. Burnout is no surprise when an employee is doing much more than what one person can realistically handle. 

Financial stress. This is a specific type of stress characterized by feelings of worry or anxiety over money, expenses, or mounting debts. Financial stress can also lead to depression, insomnia, weight loss or weight gain, feelings of shame, social isolation, and excessive frugality. 

Social isolation. This refers to a lack of friendships or social ties, also known as workplace loneliness. This may be caused by factors such as:

  • working in a team of one,
  • workstations that limit or discourage face-to-face interactions,
  • odd working schedules,
  • large age gaps between team members,
  • and in some cases, forced exclusion. 

Bad working conditions. One common demotivator for employees is poor workplace conditions. There are many examples of bad working conditions—a common one is improper space utilization in the office, which leads to discomfort, claustrophobia, and lack of privacy.

Employees may be forced to deal with non-ergonomic office equipment, excessively noisy workstations, inadequate lighting, too cold or too hot offices, smelly surroundings, or unclean facilities.

Poor physical or mental health. Physical health and mental health are integral components of workplace well-being. Employees who are not of sound mind or body will naturally experience compromised well-being. And sometimes the process is reversed—stress or dissatisfaction at work can often negatively impact otherwise physically and mentally healthy employees.

RELATED: 14 Reasons Why Many Corporate Wellness Programs Fail

The Difference Between Well-Being and Wellness

You may be wondering: Is well-being the same as wellness? The two terms are often used interchangeably, especially in holistic corporate wellness programs. 

But if you want to dig deeper, it pays to know the subtle differences between the two: 

Refers to the state of mind of the person, mainly revolving around their mental and emotional state, but not discounting their physical healthRefers to the combination of behaviors and habits that promote a healthy life
Focuses on attaining both health and happiness or contentmentFocuses on attaining sound physical health
You can achieve optimum wellness through exercise and diet, but if you’re not happy, your well-being suffersWellness is an integral part of a person’s overall well-being

Employee wellness is often described as a set of behaviors or habits to adopt for a healthier life. These behaviors and habits include regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and taking care of one’s mental health.

Employee well-being, however, is not just limited to the healthy habits a person develops while they are working. It also encompasses their overall mental and emotional state regarding their work. Are they happy with their job? Do they feel like they belong? Do they feel like their work is valued?

difference between well-being and wellness, workplace well-being activities

Employees can and should be physically and mentally healthy at all times. They can exercise regularly, eat the right food, or attend meditation classes to care for their overall wellness. But if they are not happy and content with their job, or feel like they are not connecting with anybody at the office, then their well-being is undoubtedly compromised.

If employees are not happy and content with their job, or feel like they are not connecting with anybody at the office, then their well-being is undoubtedly compromised.

So how can employees achieve workplace well-being? They will need a little help from holistic corporate wellness programs, especially those that actively incorporate and encourage workplace well-being activities. 

In the following sections, we will discuss many different examples of health and well-being activities for the workplace.

RELATED: 18 Corporate Wellness Ideas and Wellness Activities for 2023

Workplace Well-Being Activities for General Health

As mentioned earlier, physical health plays a vital role in achieving workplace well-being for employees. Here are great examples of health and well-being activities that you can conduct for your team.

1. Employee Biometric Screenings

Also known as biometric testing, biometric screenings refer to quick health screenings that typically include bloodwork and important body metrics, such as:

  • Blood cholesterol
  • Blood pressure (BP)
  • Blood sugar
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Height
  • Weight

After gathering data, the next step is to generate risk scores. Those with elevated health risks are then encouraged to develop healthier physical habits. 

RELATED: The Best Way to Conduct Biometric Testing and Wellness Screening

Advantages of Employee Biometric Screenings:

  1. They can help detect health risks early, especially for those in danger of developing diabetes, hypertension, or hypercholesterolemia in the future.
  2. They can provide baseline data on the overall health of the company’s employees. This is the first step in developing active programs that will benefit everyone’s physical well-being.
  3. They inform employees of their health standing and motivate them to be more proactive in staying healthy.
advantage of biometric screenings, workplace well-being activities

2. Fitness Sessions

Fitness sessions are great examples of workplace well-being activities that just about anyone can participate in. 

You can do fitness sessions in your office or set up virtual classes to accommodate your employees working from home.

Advantages of Fitness Sessions:

  1. They can be good monotony breakers that encourage employees to be active instead of just sitting in front of the computer all day.
  2. They can be effective energizers and can even help stimulate the mind.
  3. They can serve as a team bonding activity and promote social interaction for everyone in your office.

Some fitness sessions you can easily do inside the office include stretching, dance, chair, tai chi, or yoga classes. 

RELATED: 50 Office Challenge Ideas Including Fitness Challenges

Workplace Well-Being Activities for Reducing Stress at Work

There are some health and well-being activities that are designed to prevent or relieve stress at work.

Why is stress management important in the workplace? First and foremost, employees who work under manageable stress levels are more productive. Secondly, happy and relaxed workers create a working environment that is much more conducive to collaboration and creativity.

Listed below are great examples of stress-relieving workplace well-being activities.

1. Free Chair Massages

You can hire a massage therapist to perform free chair massages for your employees. All you need to do is dedicate a space inside the office that could serve as your chair massage corner. It’s bound to be a favorite of all your workplace well-being activities.

Depending on your budget, you can have chair massage sessions once or twice a month. Encourage your employees to take advantage of this offer whenever they can—it may surprise them to learn how much a simple massage can relieve stress!

advantages of free chair massages

Advantages of Free Chair Massages:

  1. They give employees something to look forward to after a long day at work or during their break.
  2. They help relieve muscle tension and even headaches. A professional massage can do wonders for your physical well-being.
  3. They can promote better sleep, especially for those who can get a massage soon before going home. The relaxation period after finishing work helps ease the mind for a smooth transition into bedtime.

2. Acts of Kindness

You can establish a program wherein your employees can volunteer for once-a-week acts of kindness sessions. One way to do this is to have all participants pick a recipient in secret (or you can hold a lottery) and then let them perform acts of kindness on a certain day or throughout the week.

Here are some simple yet meaningful examples of acts of kindness in the office:

  • Making coffee or tea
  • Leaving a free snack or drink on the recipient’s workstation
  • Free lunch
  • Helping out on a task
  • Flowers
  • A well-thought-out appreciation email

Advantages of Acts of Kindness:

  1. They create new friendships among colleagues, contributing to overall team camaraderie.
  2. They can boost an employee’s self-esteem, not only as the recipient of the gift but also as the giver.
  3. Outward expressions of appreciation can motivate employees to perform well at work.

3. Meetings Outside the Office

Make meetings more exciting and engaging by holding them outside the office. You can pick a park near your office building for a walking meeting. Or you can have a brunch meeting at a nearby restaurant—paid for by the company, of course. That’s certain to be an employee favorite of your workplace well-being activities.

Just make sure to schedule your outdoor excursions when the weather is fine. Also, we recommend meeting locations that do not have too many distractions.

Advantages of Meetings Outside the Office:

  1. They can allow your employees to get some fresh air or a dose of sunshine in the middle of a workday. 
  2. They can stave off boredom. Employees might even look forward to the meetings when they are set beyond the walls of your offices and conference rooms.
  3. Walking meetings can encourage employees to get some exercise, even if it is just for a few minutes out in the nearby park.
benefits of outdoor meetings

4. Arts and Crafts Station (a company favorite of workplace well-being activities)

Help alleviate stress in the office by setting up an arts and crafts station. It does not have to be a kitted-out art studio; a quiet corner in the office and a few simple craft kits will do.

If you have the resources to set up a mini-studio, you can encourage artistic activities like drawing, adult coloring books, painting, or sculpting.

Advantages of an Arts & Crafts Station:

  1. It provides a creative outlet that can also encourage problem-solving among your employees.
  2. It can help foster more collaborative relationships and interactions among employees.
  3. It encourages a fun, pressure-free, creative endeavor that anyone can participate in at their leisure. Employees can have fun and relax without worrying about deadlines.

5. Free Coffee Gift Card Giveaways

Every once in a while, give away gift certificates from a local coffee shop. Make sure to include a non-coffee option for those who do not drink coffee.

You can also encourage more employee interactions by having two people pair up to redeem a coffee shop gift certificate.

Advantages of Free Coffee:

  1. Drinking coffee before beginning a computer-based office task can lead to a productive, pain-relieving experience.
  2. Caffeine can help sharpen your employees’ focus and response time.
  3. Casual conversations over free coffee can have enormous social interaction and team-building benefits for employees.

RELATED: 8 Desirable Benefits of Corporate Wellness Challenges for Employees

Workplace Well-Being Activities for Improving Mental Health

Various workplace well-being activities can be used to great effect to promote mental health.

These simple activities can work wonders for individuals and encourage collective participation, allowing employees to connect with others.

Simple activities can work wonders for individuals and encourage collective participation, allowing employees to connect with others.

1. Midweek Well-Being Awareness Day

Pick a day in the middle of the week to conduct a mental health wellness challenge, a mental health seminar, or even a simple coaching session.

You can also take the opportunity to start building a library of workplace well-being-related information inside the office. Just make sure that it is easily accessible for everyone in your company.

benefits of mindfulness and meditation

Advantages of Midweek Well-Being Awareness Day:

  1. It educates your employees about why workplace well-being is essential, and, more importantly, how they can achieve it.
  2. It serves as a weekly reminder that your company is willing to extend assistance to anyone dealing with well-being issues like burnout, financial stress, or social isolation.
  3. It raises awareness about common mental health issues that employees can face. 

2. Mindfulness and Meditation Sessions

Mindfulness refers to the process of being mindful of whatever you are doing or feeling. As for meditation, it is the act of actively calming your mind and body.

You can organize mindfulness or meditation sessions in your office or through online means. You can hire an instructor or use an app to guide the sessions.

Advantages of Mindfulness and Meditation Sessions:

  1. They allow employees to get relief from stress and calm themselves after dealing with high-pressure situations in the office.
  2. Mindfulness promotes engagement among employees, which can contribute to better productivity.
  3. Because it calms and clears the mind, meditation can help hone employees’ decision-making abilities.

RELATED: 10 Tips to Implement Mindfulness in the Workplace

3. Financial Wellness Workshops (rare but more effective of workplace well-being activities)

Financial stress can be very challenging to deal with. And with the economic uncertainty brought on by COVID-19, millions of people have been suffering from financial stress in the last few years.

Help ease the financial stress experienced by your employees by organizing financial wellness workshops. You can invite financial experts as guest speakers to talk about:

  • Proper budget planning
  • Debt management
  • Savings

 Advantages of Financial Wellness Workshops:

  1. They can prevent employees from experiencing financial stress.
  2. They can educate employees about the best ways to develop good financial habits.
  3. When employees don’t worry about financial issues, they can focus their energy on productivity at work.
financial stress from COVID on employees

4. Health and Well-Being Emails

Regularly send email blasts to your employees about health and well-being topics. It is always a good idea to compile information from credible sources.

Use this opportunity to remind your employees that you have set up a library of resources that they can access anytime.

Advantages of Health and Well-Being Emails:

  1. Your employees will always have a reminder in their inbox to consider their workplace well-being. 
  2. You can include links or contact information for your employee assistance program. This way, your employees can easily reach out for help when dealing with burnout or other workplace well-being issues.

Recap on Workplace Well-Being Activities

When you actively plan and implement workplace well-being activities, your employees will be physically and mentally healthy, and they will be happy, productive, and satisfied members of your organization.

If you want to implement a corporate wellness program in your company, make sure to incorporate regular, long-term workplace well-being activities into the mix.  Here at WellSteps we can help you do just that. Schedule a Free Demo with a member of our team and discover how you can skyrocket your team’s productivity.

About The Author

Dr. Steve Aldana

Dr. Aldana is the CEO of Wellsteps, a worksite wellness solution that leads the nation in wellness program deployment and engagement. Dr. Aldana authored over 75 scientific papers and 7 books on health risk management, healthy living, and health promotion programs. He has given over 350 keynote speeches across the U.S. on the ability of good nutrition and regular exercise to prevent, arrest, and reverse many chronic diseases.