Finding employee health programs worth investing in isn’t something to take lightly, and the success or failure of your business might depend on it. It’s the people that keep the doors open, and implementing wellness programs designed to provide care in realistic and obtainable ways takes more than monetary investments.

Employee Health Programs Worth Investing In

Pre-pandemic, the majority of workers were willing to show up to their jobs, whether they liked them or not, as long as they provided them with a reliable paycheck and, when available, health benefits. However, when life as we know it changes in an instant, people become less willing to live unfulfilling lives, recognizing the true value of time.

In today’s article, we’re going to introduce you to some health programs that are low cost, and often the only investment needed to make them successful is time.

RELATED: How to Design Wellness Programs That Are Successful in 2023

Employee Health Programs Worth Investing In That Your Team Will Love

Would it surprise you to know that most employee health programs worth investing in are mostly free or low-cost? Although there are plenty of programs companies can purchase to add value to employee health programs, the most successful are designed with collaboration in mind.

If there’s one thing isolation taught us, it’s that we each have individual needs that must be considered. The more we show our employees we care about them beyond the responsibilities and rank, the better we can assure they’ll want to stick around.

The more we show our employees we care about them beyond the responsibilities and rank, the better we can assure they’ll want to stick around.

People are tired of putting up with unsatisfactory lives, and their first step of happiness generally revolves around their job satisfaction.

Working remotely taught us that work-life balance can be possible, but only if the employees are empowered to create a life that works for them and the company alike. By creating employee health programs designed to support their individual needs, you’ll create happy, healthy employees.

RELATED: How Effective Workplace Health Programs Reduce Health Care Costs

Stress Management in Employee Health Programs

Wouldn’t it be great if our stress managed itself, rather than consistently interfering with our lives and taking a toll on our health? Helping employees learn effective ways to cope with their stress is an excellent employee health program worth investing in.

In addition to the many apps available for stress management (which we highly recommend), implementing best practices is an effective method proven to increase a person’s overall health and wellness.

Employee Health Programs Incorporating Stress Management

Help Employees Identify and Tackle Stress Triggers

The first step toward successfully managing stress is by understanding the triggers that cause it to surface. It’s only when people understand what’s causing their anxiety that they can find preventative measures to try and stop stress from starting in the first place.

Schedule Stress Evaluations. Require employees to document and reflect on their stress levels throughout each workday, paying particular attention to any noticeable patterns. Once they identify the things that cause their stress to rise, they’ll be better equipped to prepare for it.

Take Stress Seriously. Once employees learn the peak times of their stress, have them identify the specific tasks and responsibilities that cause their stress. Then, encourage them to present reasonable solutions, and it could be as simple as an additional five-minute bathroom break, or making sure to spread tasks more evenly among team members.

Promote Positive Posturing. We all suffer from imposter syndrome at some point, but by scheduling time for your teams to perform self-evaluations that focus on their strengths and goals, you are helping them build a career they’ll care about and want to develop over time.

Be Open To Feedback. Too often, companies state that they want new ideas, but at times that leads to defensiveness, and leaders unable to adapt to change are quick to alienate teams. All ideas don’t need to be acted upon, but those who want to contribute in constructive ways should be learned from, heard, and considered.

Meditation for stress management

Create A Stress Plan. Once emphasis has been placed on managing stress, work with employees to find ways to help them reduce their triggers. Understanding their individual needs and developing healthy outlets that align with company goals will help them manage the stresses from everyday responsibilities. 

RELATED: 24 Ways Employers Can Manage Stress At Work

Supporting Time Management in Employee Health Programs

Do you ever feel like time management is always a problem for your team? It might have to do with the fact that although we have endless ways to manage our time, our fast-paced world continues to push the limits of our abilities, making time management a consistent struggle.

Implementing time management strategies should be done from the top down, and if you’ve been having a hard time with retention, pay attention to their workload.

Setting unrealistic expectations in the workplace is a rapid-fire way to lose talent.

Setting unrealistic expectations in the workplace is a rapid-fire way to lose talent. It turns out that unstructured and undermanaged companies aren’t as appealing as many employers once believed. People want control over their work-life, but not if it consistently adds to the stress.

Time Flexibility. Flexibility with work schedules is a massive draw in today’s market because let’s be honest, no one wants to miss their kid’s soccer game to get non-urgent tasks done.

  • Encourage employees to set realistic goals
  • Help them prioritize the hierarchy of their responsibilities
  • Empower them to protect their time

Methods to Help Employees Release Stress

We all get overwhelmed and frustrated, and when not dealt with, those feelings have the possibility to lead to resentments and misunderstandings. By learning to keep perspective, employees are likely to deal with stressful situations in productive ways rather than damaging ones.

Here are a few ways you can encourage your team to keep calm and carry on:

  • Encourage them to see areas of frustration from multiple points of view
  • Allow them to take breaks when faced with stressful situations
  • Help them find healthy outlets to release pent up stress like reading or journaling
  • Remind them they matter by encouraging them to take care of themselves
  • Help them set boundaries for uncontrollable stressful situations

Misunderstandings happen, and by helping people see multiple points of perspective, they are better equipped to manage the stressful times to enjoy the rest. 

RELATED:  24 Ways Employers Can Manage Stress at Work

Journaling for Emotional Stress

Provide Some Form of Mental Health Access in Your Employee Health Programs

Did you know the CDC reports that nearly 1 in 5 US adults aged 18 or older (18.3% or 44.7 million people) reported mental illness in 2016, and 71% of adults reported at least one symptom of stress, such as a headache or feeling overwhelmed or anxious?

Not long ago, mental health was highly stigmatized, often creating embarrassment for those willing to admit to their struggles. Today, online therapy platforms are a top contender of the ads circulating the various media forms we have access to.

Left untreated, poor mental health and stress can negatively affect:

  • employees’ job performance
  • productivity
  • engagement with their work
  • communication with coworkers
  • limits of physical capability
  • daily functioning

Depression is also associated with higher rates of disability and unemployment claims.

“Depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time.”

While not every business has the resources to send their employees to behavioral health specialists, the skyrocketing demand for therapists has helped pave the way to affordable alternatives to traditional therapy.

Although there are still only a few mental health apps available, they are already showing significant success. Here are a few worth checking out (and aren’t bad on the budget).

BetterHelp. As the largest therapy platform worldwide, their goal is to “Change the way people get help with facing life’s challenges by providing convenient, discreet, and affordable access to a licensed therapist.” They offer professional therapy available anytime, anywhere, through computers, tablets, or smartphones.

TalkSpace. This medication management app is a licensed prescriber for anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.

HeadSpace. This meditation app was designed to help people incorporate mindfulness and meditation throughout their day, helping them consistently manage stress.

Employee mental health programs

Organize Collaborative Movement

Sure, we can go far on our own, but we can go so much further together. Organizing collaborative movement is a fantastic employee health program worth investing in, not just for the obvious health benefits but also for overall morale.

Getting outside for some good old vitamin D is always a great tactic to incorporate fitness and help a team bond.

Group Fitness. No surprise here, you might be thinking, but there’s a reason group fitness often makes it into conversations centered around employee health programs worth investing in: they’re proven to produce results. When people are doing something fun that doesn’t feel like exercise, it helps them remember how good it feels to get out and move.

Show Them The Money. Who doesn’t love winning the pot of a company challenge? However, programs with money as incentives where everyone gets a piece of the pot give employees extra incentive, helping them earn some dough while sweating off some frosting.

group fitness support

Try App-Based Challenges. One of the best parts about apps is their ease of use, being ready and able to start collecting health data immediately. Couch to 5K is a great one to start with and has a 4.6 rating from over 3.9K reviewers.  

RELATED: 50 Office Challenge Ideas Including Office Fitness Challenges

Emphasize Emotional Fitness in Your Employee Health Programs

You might not have heard this one before, as it’s a relatively new term, but emotional fitness should be on your radar when it comes to employee health programs worth investing in.

A person who is emotionally fit can:

  • balance essential needs
  • cultivate feelings of belonging and purpose
  • flourish individually

An organization that is emotionally fit in the workplace happens when they enable workers’ essential needs through processes designed to sprout a sense of belonging and purpose.

An organization that is emotionally fit in the workplace happens when they enable workers’ essential needs through processes designed to sprout a sense of belonging and purpose.

Providing opportunities to help employees thrive has been proven to increase productivity, improve work quality, reduce work-related injuries, and support alertness.

Common Problems of Employees Associated With Emotionally Unfit Companies

Inability to concentrate. When team members aren’t able to concentrate, it often leads to procrastination, exacerbating indecision, and increased difficulty in decision making.

Increased trips to the doctor. Aches and pains require additional healthcare appointments, unnecessarily increasing preventable health care costs. 

Poor work quality. Untreated emotional issues often lead to forgetfulness, leading to missed deadlines and increased absenteeism, resulting in poor work quality.

Unstable moods. Irritable or tearful employees might negatively affect relationships with coworkers and clients, resulting in low morale and decreased presenteeism.

Showing your team the importance of emotional fitness by demonstrating it from team leaders is a great way to show employees what health success looks like. 

RELATED: WellSteps Physical Activity, Healthy Eating, and Emotional Health Challenges

Learn New Skills Together

As highlighted above, an important aspect of an employee’s health and happiness is for them to have a sense of belonging and purpose.  Although not everyone does well in social situations, creating opportunities for your team to connect is vital.

Giving employees opportunities to unwind in a space with their coworkers that’s designed for anything but work is a great way to increase participation—just make sure to do things where people have to keep their hands busy for a predetermined amount of time.

Fun Learning Activities Your Team Will Love 

Cooking Classes. Look into local cooking classes, or better yet, hire a chef from a nearby favorite to come and teach your team some new skills. Chopped challenge anyone?

group cooking classes

Home Gardening Classes. Whether getting tips from Ron Finley, the MasterClass “Gangsta Gardener” Instructor, or taking a community class on native plants, gardening is a great activity to get your team working together.

Skillshare. Take some time to flex those creative muscles in a photography class, or stock up on art supplies and test out a watercolor lesson with your employees. If your team doesn’t jive too well on the creative side, the site also offers business courses in leadership, marketing, and management, along with many other categories.

The best team leaders aren’t afraid to show their vulnerable side (remember that whole emotional intelligence we referred to above), and when employees see their leaders figure out how to work through their new challenges, it might just inspire them to do the same.

RELATED: 16 Staff Wellness Activities for Creating a Healthier Workplace in 2023

Require Work-Life Balance             

If only we had a time machine to go back to the person that invented the five-day workweek and stop them. In a sense, Covid-19 did just that, but rather than removing a day of work, it introduced the hybrid work model between the office and remote locations.

People are generally willing to put in their required hours, but after five days of back-to-back commutes, getting healthy meals on the table each night, and attending to the needs of our families makes work-life balance unsustainable in this model. It’s no wonder we rely so much on fast food.

Remote working options.

Not all businesses have the luxury of letting their staff work from home and offering them some form of autonomy will go a long way in establishing a trusting relationship. Rigid hour confinements are becoming a thing of the past in many industries, and leading the pack on this is a sure way to show employees they matter. 

By providing flexible working hours, and remote options when possible, the value this can provide to your team is often priceless, because it gives them back time, the one thing no one can buy more of.

There are plenty of employee health programs worth investing in, and often the most important investment is time.

RELATED: 6 Strategies for Successful Wellness with Remote Workers

Here’s a Recap of Everything We Covered About employees Health Programs

When choosing an employee health program, make sure not to overlook the internal changes that can be made in addition to wellness benefits. Like our bodies, the best way to see change on the outside is by first caring for the inside.

Stress Management

Empower team members to manage their stress.

8 Steps To Success

  1. Help Employees Identify and Tackle Stress Triggers
  2. Schedule Stress Evaluations
  3. Take Stress Seriously
  4. Promote Positive Posturing
  5. Be Open To Feedback
  6. Create A Stress Plan
  7. Be Realistic About Their Time Management
  8. Help Them Keep Perspective 

Provide Some Form of Mental Health Access

No matter which way you go here, this is likely one of the best employee health programs worth investing in. We’re big fans of apps like BetterHelp, TalkSpace, and HeadSpace.

Organize Collaborative Movement

Get them involved and give them a prize to work for with the added bonus of team building and fun!

  • Group Fitness
  • Show Them The Money
  • Try App-Based Challenges

Emphasize Emotional Fitness

Spend some time thinking about ways to improve the emotional fitness within your company and take care of it from the inside out.

Learn New Skills Together

  • Cooking Classes
  • Home Gardening Classes
  • SkillShare

Support Work-Life Balance 

The WellSteps team has helped thousands of employees improve their health, and we’d love the opportunity to demonstrate to you how we can help you with an employee health program. Schedule a Free Demo and take the first steps toward wellness for your team, your company, and you.

customer testimonials

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.