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March 16, 2022 Haeli Harris

The New Top Workplace Perk: Workforce Wellness Programs

What workforce wellness perks do you think your employees want?

A couple of years ago, common answers might be unlimited snacks and beautiful office views.

Suddenly, those things don’t matter anymore, and employees don’t care about them.

Employers are now forced to focus on what is truly important and what actually makes a difference for employees.

Ping pong, unlimited time off (but not too much), beer on tap… these “benefits” are all a mirage. They don’t really help employees work better or live better. They don’t add to the employee experience. They aren’t the cool thing to do anymore. And they don’t help your company stand out to top talent.

How Workforce Wellness Has Suffered

The events of the past couple of years have been detrimental for 78% of the global workforce.

Stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout are through the roof. 1 in 3 adults has reported symptoms of anxiety and depression—the most common mental illnesses—during the pandemic.

The result? Massive drops in productivity. Poor work performance. Trouble getting along with coworkers. Trouble focusing. Unhappiness. Burnout. The list goes on and on.

Mental disorders are the number one economic cost, at $16 trillion every year… at least. Mental illnesses surpass cardiovascular disease in economic costs.

Workplace wellness benefits are what employees actually want and need. Mental health support is the new top workplace benefit.

Still not convinced mental health is a problem for your team? Check out our blog: 6 Signs Your Employees are Struggling with Mental Health.

What Are Workplace Wellness Benefits, Anyway?

Workplace wellness benefits include things like:

  • Employee counseling (therapy)
  • Fitness classes
  • Yoga classes
  • Meditation sessions
  • Financial coaching
  • Nutrition classes
  • Personal training

It isn’t just about physical wellness anymore, either. The shift is towards holistic mental wellbeing benefits.

53% of employers are providing emotional and mental health programs to their employees. And this is just the beginning.

Do Employees Really Want Workplace Wellness Perks?

Yes—especially Millenials and Gen Zers.

Instead of trendy perks like beer fridges, employees want benefits that add value to their lives. Things that save time and reduce stress so they can work better and live better.

An overwhelming 87% of people want to work remotely at least one day per week, even if they have the choice to go back into the office.

Why?

People value flexibility.

Employees want to spend more time with their families and spend less time commuting. Employees want access to therapy, but barriers to care prevent people from getting it, like lack of therapist availability.

The effects of mental health in the workplace are too numerous to ignore. And employees are demanding support.

But it isn’t just about providing health and wellness perks for employees. It is also about building a culture that prioritizes mental health.

workplace wellness for remote workers—man sitting at desk looking out window

How To Start Providing Workforce Wellness Benefits

Here are some ways to promote wellbeing at your company today and bring on some health and wellness perks.

  1. Start talking about mental health to your employees.
  2. Have meditation or yoga times with your employees.
  3. Encourage employees to take breaks (long and short!).
  4. Take a mental health day.
  5. Provide employees with mental health resources.

If you already have a mental health program in place at your company, check out these articles to learn how to make it even better:

1. Start talking about mental health to your employees.

Be open about your mental health and what you do to take care of yourself. Ask employees how they are genuinely doing. When you speak up about your own experiences, employees will feel more comfortable talking about their own.

A little goes a long way. Even spending just a couple of minutes talking about wellbeing during your company-wide meeting can get the conversation started.

If that feels too intimidating, try talking to a smaller group about it at first, like your HR team. Or, talk to your closest coworker about how you’ve been coping with recent stressors.

2. Have meditation or yoga times with your employees.

Mindfulness is excellent at reducing stress and increasing productivity. Even just 5 minutes of meditation or yoga time can make a big difference in your day.

Here is a free Nivati meditation video you can try out together:

3. Encourage employees to take breaks (long and short!).

Set the example by turning off notifications when you are done with work for the day. Give employees incentives to actually take time off, like giving people a bonus for taking time off.

Here are some ways to take effective workday breaks:

  • Take longer breaks earlier in the day
  • Disconnect from work entirely while on a break
  • Focus on eating during your lunchtime
  • Change your scenery by going outside or to a different room
  • Take a nap break
  • Socialize
  • Take micro-breaks every hour
  • If you feel like you need to take a break, take one

4. Take a mental health day.

Create a company-specific holiday where all employees must take the day off completely from work. The next day, have a team meeting and talk about what you did to take care of yourselves.

You can also encourage employees to take mental health days just like they would sick days for physical illnesses.

5. Provide employees with mental health resources.

Share some of these blog posts with them:

For a deep dive into how to start prioritizing mental health in your workplace, check out the Nivati Manager Training Handbook.

How to Support the Areas of Wellness

Employee mental health isn’t related to just one factor. It is essential to find balance and take time to address each area of wellness and create a workplace where it is encouraged.

Here are the 8 generally accepted core dimensions of wellness and how your company can help employees nurture each of them.

1. Occupational

Also called vocational wellness, this dimension is fulfilled when someone is working in a way that brings satisfaction into their life. A person’s occupation is a best fit when it is aligned with that person’s goals, values, and personality. Work should also enable employees to use their gifts, talents, and unique insights.

As an employer, you can help fulfill this need by improving company culture, hiring for a true best fit, and placing employees in areas where they can optimally use their unique personalities, talents, and skills.

2. Physical

Physical wellness is all about taking care of the body. You can help employees by providing access to fitness classes, yoga classes, and nutrition classes through a health and wellness perk like Nivati. Encourage your team members to take a walk during the workday. Or, have a contest to see who can run or walk the most miles in a month.

3. Emotional

This area of wellness is all about building emotional intelligence. It is about respecting others’ feelings and healthily managing emotions. You can do this by setting an example for your employees. Create an environment where it is okay to express feelings. We are all human, after all!

Providing employee counseling is a superb way to address emotional wellness. All of us need to have someone to confide in with our feelings.

You can also help foster good feelings by showing genuine interest in others, their interests, and how they are really doing. Give your employees the recognition they deserve! Even if it is just sending a message letting you know you appreciate them, those small things can go a long way towards improving workplace wellness.

4. Social

This can be a hard one, especially for remote teams.

The social dimension of workplace wellness is about building great, loving relationships with others and being a part of a group.

A simple thing you can do to help the social dimension is to have the video on during Zoom calls. We all want to see some smiling faces!

In your team group chat, encourage employees to share what they are doing in their everyday lives. At Nivati, we like to share any big life news, things we are doing to take care of ourselves, and more in our team Slack channel.

You can also address multiple areas of wellness at once by having a yoga session with your team during your company-wide meeting.

5. Intellectual

Constantly building knowledge is healthy. Many companies are now requiring a learning or certification day for their employees.

You can have employees brush up on the digital tools your company uses. Or encourage employees to take courses in their work function. A couple of departments at Nivati require employees to spend at least 30 minutes per day learning a new skill or reading up on news or insights.

You can also have a team book club or cooking class for fun!

6. Spiritual

This looks different for everyone. It helps to provide opportunities for employees to reflect through meditation or journaling.

7. Financial

Treat your employees well. Provide employee financial wellness benefits along with your mental health program to tackle the #1 stressor in America.

8. Environmental

The environmental area of wellness is all about reconnecting with nature. At Nivati, our team goes hiking, biking, and even mountain climbing together!

Learn more about how connecting with nature can improve employee mental health.

THE MANAGER TRAINING HANDBOOK

The one-stop employee mental health guide for managers! Get a deep dive into common mental health struggles and how to help you employees heal.

 

Disclaimer

By participating in/reading the service/website/blog/email series on this website, you acknowledge that this is a personal website/blog and is for informational purposes and should not be seen as mental health care advice. You should consult with a licensed professional before you rely on this website/blog’s information. All things written on this website should not be seen as therapy treatment and should not take place of therapy or any other health care or mental health advice. Always seek the advice of a mental health care professional or physician. The content on this blog is not meant to and does not substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Haeli Harris

Haeli Harris, LMFT is the Lead Counselor at Nivati. She has been practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 2014. Haeli has experience working as a therapist in private practice settings, residential facilities, outpatient treatment care, schools, and telehealth.

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, UT & HI
Registered Yoga Teacher 200
Trauma Conscious Yoga (2021)
Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Education
Bachelor's of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies, University of Utah
Master's of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, Northcentral University

MENTAL HEALTH FOR THE WHOLE EMPLOYEE