What Are Corporate Wellness Programs? (Plus Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Companies use corporate wellness programs to encourage healthy habits in the workplace. When employees have more options to be healthy at work, they typically feel happier and more productive. By implementing a corporate wellness program and promoting a healthy work culture, your employer can also save on healthcare costs and preserve productivity. In this article, we discuss what a corporate wellness program is, explain how to design one, share their benefits and provide tips to help you create a successful program.

What are corporate wellness programs?

Corporate wellness programs provide a set of benefits to improve the well-being of the company's employees. The goal is to help employees stay healthy, creating a better work environment for everyone. Many companies promote their wellness programs to attract more talent and improve job satisfaction among their employees.

Wellness programs typically combine several features to suit their employees' needs. These may include:

  • free or discounted gym memberships

  • on-site fitness centre

  • yoga and meditation classes

  • free massages at work

  • educational opportunities

  • healthy food available at work

  • health risk assessments

  • vaccination clinics

  • reimbursement of registration fees for races, walks or other activities

  • support for stopping smoking

  • rooms to nap or rest

  • wellness challenges

  • wellness outings

  • ergonomically designed workspaces

How to design a corporate wellness program

It's important that you tailor your health and wellness program to support the employees' needs. Programs may vary based on industry standards, work facilities, available funds and company size. Here are four steps to help you design an effective corporate wellness program:

1. Consider the size of the business

One of the factors in choosing which health and wellness incentives to provide is the size of the company. Consider which options are the most cost-effective for the company and the most beneficial for employees. For example, a large company may want to invest in an on-site gym instead of paying for its employees' gym memberships.

2. Ask employees what they want

Before implementing a corporate wellness program, ask the employees what kind of benefits they would likely use. One way to do this is to circulate a survey asking employees which benefits are important to them. Using qualitative feedback from the surveys, you can create a corporate wellness program that employees want to use.

3. Make the program simple

Make sure that the corporate wellness program is easy for employees to use. If you choose to reimburse employees for things, such as gym membership or registering for races and walks, ensure that the reimbursement process is simple. Likewise, if an employee wants to participate in a class or go on a wellness outing, provide instructions on how to do so.

4. Add it to the employee handbook

After creating a corporate wellness program, make sure that you provide information about it in the employee handbook. These details include what the company offers and how the employees can access it. Using this information, new employees know about all the benefits they can take advantage of during their employment.

Benefits of a corporate wellness program

Both employers and employees can benefit from a corporate wellness program. Here are some of the key benefits of implementing one:

Reflects company values

Many people look for a workplace that values its employees. When a company has a corporate wellness program, it shows that the well-being of its employees is a top priority. Employees are more likely to support a company that creates a culture focused on employee wellness, leading to a more engaged workforce. Weight loss challenges, walking groups and other wellness activities also help employees feel more connected to the company they work for and their team.

Increases job satisfaction

These programs can also lead to increased job satisfaction. Employees who feel healthy and engaged at work usually have more energy to perform well in their roles. For example, when employees have their healthcare and fitness needs met, they may feel happier at work and engage more positively with their team members.

Saves money on healthcare costs

Employers may make savings in healthcare costs as a result of having a corporate wellness program. For example, on-site fitness centres can help employees prevent physical health conditions and maintain good mental health. Ensuring employee health not only benefits employees but allows businesses to continue to function effectively.

Helps employees become healthier through education

Similarly to universities hosting nutrition educators, wellness programs often offer opportunities for employees to learn about a healthy diet and exercise options. These programs may also offer free classes on topics such as preventing heat illness or workplace safety measures. Healthy employees who have their essential needs met are more likely to improve their work performance and achieve challenging goals.

Promotes a positive work culture

Wellness programs can create a positive work culture for employees. They usually feel more connected to the company and their colleagues by engaging in corporate wellness activities. For example, knowing that their company values their personal health and fitness increases an employee's loyalty and engagement.

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Attracts new talent

Promoting wellness can appeal to prospective employees. When a company clearly demonstrates that it values employee health, it may attract talented job candidates. In addition to finding new talent, it can help companies retain their top employees instead of losing them to companies that offer these benefits.

Related: How to Manage Underperformance on Your Team to Achieve Goals

Tips for a successful corporate wellness program

To ensure the success of your corporate wellness program, consider the following tips:

Delegate leadership support

If the company management is enthusiastic about the wellness program, other employees may feel more motivated to be healthy and participate. It's important that you have a designated leader who can answer employees' questions about the program. This person may also manage the program's onboarding process and communication with new employees.

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Establish a wellness committee

Creating a wellness committee may help your program to succeed. This committee typically comprises a few members of the company's leadership team. It can take responsibility for the program's overarching vision and goals and oversee its daily operations.

Related: What Does a Health Information Manager Do? (With Skills)

Include a departmental approach

A corporate wellness program may get a better reception if it includes different departments within the company. For example, the human resources department may work with individual departments to incorporate healthy living tasks into its job descriptions. You can also create opportunities for employees to learn about healthier lifestyle choices during employee orientations or training sessions.

Related: What Does a Healthcare Consultant Do? And How to Become One

Implement incentive-based programs

Providing incentives may increase the success of a corporate wellness program. For example, an employee may receive a gift card in exchange for cycling to work or getting a vaccination. If you plan to include rewards in the corporate wellness program, make sure that employees understand how they qualify for a reward. It's also advisable to check that managers know how to distribute them.

Create a flexible wellness platform

Flexibility is important to most people who want to lose weight or improve their health. When employees have control over their own health plans and have access to flexible options, they're more likely to meet their health goals. For example, you can provide employees with a choice of fitness programs or career-developing tasks to participate in.

Related: Signs of a Health Company Culture (Plus Types)

Make it standard for all employees

One of the easiest ways to implement a corporate wellness program is to make it a standard practice. For example, if there's an existing wellness policy, the company might require that all new hires comply with these policies. If there isn't an existing policy, you can create one by adding messaging and language that details company values and health promotion objectives.

Related: 8 Types of Health Policy Jobs (Plus Duties and Salaries)

Ensure employee privacy

It's important that you keep all personal health information confidential during the entire process. Reassure employees of their privacy throughout the planning and implementation of the program. Protecting the employees' privacy when they're discussing it with their healthcare provider or other team members can make them more receptive to participating in it.

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