Nontraditional Ways to Improve Employee Wellness


Employee wellness is a broad term, and comes in many forms. Therefore, employers shouldn’t feel limited in how they promote it. While gym membership reimbursements and mental health resources are always going to be major players in the employee wellness game (and should not be dismissed), there are other less common tactics that can resonate with even more employees.

Here are some of the top nontraditional ways to improve employee wellness in your organization:

  1. Set up a volunteer initiative. According to Forbes, volunteering has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, increase activity, and give a sense of purpose. Not only is this powerful for the entire community, but it leaves your employees feeling fulfilled and active, both physically and within the community. Employers can offer paid time off to volunteer, or arrange a group volunteer day.
  2. Allowing pets in the workplace. Although this is not feasible for every workplace, allowing pets can provide positive support to employees in a similar way that therapy animals do in hospitals. Allowing employees to bring their pets to work increases socialization, reduces stress, increases productivity, and eliminates the worry that employees face when leaving their pets at home alone during the day.
  3. Onsite gardening. If your workplace property allows for it, consider setting up a gardening project where employees can plant fruits, vegetables or flowers. That way, they can have a relaxing activity, beautify the property, and have access to fresh product that they grew themselves.
  4. Promoting hobbies. Whether it be cooking classes where employees can learn new ways to prepare healthy meals, or a class to learn another language, productive hobbies can increase employee wellness. It’s important to think outside the box and offer programs for hobbies outside of the standard gym membership reimbursement, since different people find different activities relaxing and enjoyable.
  5. Practice gratitude. Remember that wellness goes beyond the physical. Mental health is a major contributing factor to overall well-being. Create a shared document or physical space where employees are invited on a daily or weekly basis to add things they are grateful for, work related or not. Periodically, have your employees reflect on this list, and watch attitudes shift towards positivity.
  6. Host a talent show. This may seem like a highschool throwback, but giving employees the opportunity to share what they are passionate about is a great way to boost confidence, improve socialization, and give your employees a stress-free night of fun.

If you are not sure what else you can do to improve employee wellness in your organization -- just ask! Nobody knows your employees better than they know themselves. Hold an open forum or send private surveys and either have people vote on choices, or provide an opportunity for them to give ideas about what they’d like to see in the workplace. The answers may be nontraditional and surprising, but they will be more effective.