Workplace wellness programs will not only increase employee morale, but also reap a positive return on investment for employers. Although Work Wellness programs are often expensive, there are ways employers can make positive changes for little or no cost.
Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
The following are low-cost strategies that encourage healthy eating:
- Provide healthy eating reminders to employees using posters, emails and intranet posts.
- Offer healthier food options in the vending machines and in the cafeteria, as well as at meetings, conferences and catered events.
- Ensure that on-site cafeterias follow healthy cooking practices and set nutritional standards that align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Provide cookbooks and cooking classes for employees and their families.
- Offer locally grown fruits and vegetables at the workplace (this could be a workplace farmer’s market or a community-supported agriculture drop-off point).
- Price non-nutritious foods in vending machines and cafeterias at higher prices than healthy options.
- Create a day where healthy snacks are available each week to show employees that snacking can be healthy and enjoyable.
Below are tips for encouraging employees to practice portion control:
- Label foods to show serving size and nutritional content.
- Provide food models or food scales for weighing and pictures to help employees assess portion size.
- Offer appropriate portion sizes at meetings, workplace events and in the cafeteria.
Consider the following tips to support nursing mothers in workplace:
- Provide rooms for expressing milk in a secure and relaxed environment and a refrigerator for the storage of breast milk.
- Create policies that support breast-feeding and lactation education programs.
- Offer flexible scheduling and on-site or near-site childcare to allow for milk expression during the workday.
- Adopt alternative work options (for example, telecommuting, part-time or extended maternity) for breast-feeding mothers returning to work.
Physical Activity and Weight Management
The following are low-cost wellness activities that promote physical activity:
- Allow access to on- and off-site gyms and recreational activities before, during and after work. Encourage and support participation in after-work recreational leagues.
- Provide incentives or reduced insurance costs for participation in physical activity or weight management or maintenance activities or education.
- Map out on-site trails or nearby walking routes and destinations. Host walk-and-talk meetings when it is nice outside.
- Provide bicycle racks in safe, convenient and accessible locations. Sponsor a “bike to work” day and reward employees who participate.
- Create activities that have strong social support systems like buddy or team physical activity goals or programs that involve co-workers and their families.
- Set up programs to encourage physical activity, such as pedometer walking challenges or daily walking groups.
- Offer flexible work hours and breaks to allow for physical activity during the day.
- Post motivational signs at elevators and escalators to encourage stair usage.
- Encourage employees to map out their own biking or walking route to and from work.
- Provide or support physical activity events on-site or in the community.
General Health Education
The following tips can help improve overall employee well-being:
- Have a wellness plan in place that addresses the purpose, nature, duration, resources required and expected results of a workplace wellness program.
- Promote and encourage employee participation in the physical activity, nutrition and weight management programs.
- Provide reimbursement for participation in community events such as 5k walk/runs.
- Provide health education articles, handouts or fliers to employees.
- Create a committee that meets at least once a month to oversee your wellness program.
- Offer regular health education lunch & learns on various physical activity, nutrition and wellness-related topics.
- Ask health associations, health care providers or public health agencies to offer free on-site education seminars.
- Host a health fair as a kick-off event or as a celebration for completion of a wellness campaign.
- Conduct voluntary preventive wellness screenings for blood pressure, body mass index, blood cholesterol and blood sugar.
- Provide confidential health risk assessments with results driven feedback.
- Offer on-site weight management or maintenance programs for employees.
- Add counseling for weight management or maintenance, nutrition, and physical activity as a benefit in health insurance contracts.
Consider the following tactics to curb smoking at your workplace:
- Provide posters to support a tobacco-free policy.
- Establish a policy supporting participation in smoking cessation activities.
- Provide tobacco cessation counseling through an individual, group or telephone counseling program.
- Make sure your health plan covers a variety of tobacco cessation medications.
By considering the strategies above, you can implement low-cost wellness activities at your workplace.
Elizabeth attended Tri-State University and earned a BS in Marketing. Prior to starting her career with GIS, she worked in health and wellness for 10 years specializing in healthy lifestyle change and chronic disease prevention. She is a Certified Personal Trainer (American Council on Exercise) with a specialty in Orthopedic and Cancer Rehabilitation. She also holds a Level II Ergonomic Assessment Specialist Certification (CEAS II), and serves as a Certified Lifestyle Coach (CLC). Elizabeth resides in La Porte County with her husband Jeff and their children. In 2018, she joined the Board of Directors for Healthy Communities of La Porte County to help support programs that improve quality of life for residents.