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Oct 21'

3 Ways to Start Prioritizing Health and Wellness in your Workplace

If you’ve landed here, you’re probably doing some digging to understand the best ways to implement health and wellness in your company in order to keep your employees happy and get the most out of your workforce. In this post, we’ll go over three effective undertakings you can roll out in any type of company to start prioritizing health and wellness in your workplace, and employee recognition is one of them!

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic gave us a wake-up call on how important health care is in the workplace, we knew just how serious employee illness and stress can be. Sick and absent workers can cost organizations a fortune in claims, the cost of replacement workers, the administrative costs of managing absenteeism, and low quality of work; it all adds up

employee happiness

A Circadian publication states that absenteeism costs roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,660 each year for salaried employees. To look at the issue on a much larger scale, the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index found that for 77% of workers with chronic health conditions, total annual costs related to lost productivity totalled $84 billion.

These shocking stats might be enough to encourage you to start making health and wellbeing a priority in your workplace culture. It’s not all about savings though. When you build a healthy work culture that prioritizes wellness, mental health, and employee recognition, your organization gains tremendously. Employees who feel cared for and valued by their employers are known to demonstrate improved productivity and loyalty to their companies. 

Making efforts to support the health and well-being of your staff is then a no-brainer that benefits everyone in the picture. But a health-oriented work culture doesn’t come about overnight when you stock the fridge with healthy snacks or re-work your company core values. It requires taking a thoughtful and multi-dimensional approach to the ways you can support your staff. 

Here are 3 ways to start prioritizing health and wellness in your workplace:

1. Develop a holistic wellness program

If you offer your employees a health benefits package to cover a portion of prescriptions and doctors visits, you’re off to a great start. Wellness programs, however, incorporate more than that. Strong wellness programs include a number of creative initiatives that go above and beyond to support staff by:

  • Enhancing the employee experience and work environment
    E.g. providing ergonomic desks, stocking the fridge with healthy snacks, offering catered lunches once a week, providing secure bike lockers
  • Supporting them when they fall either physically or mentally ill
    E.g. offering a generous number of sick days, stress leave options, or mental health days employees can use guilt-free
  • Preventing them from experiencing stress and illness in the first place
    E.g. offering a fair number of paid vacation days, encouraging transparent communication with managers, providing subsidized gym/fitness memberships, offering vaccine rebates 

How you build your company’s wellness program is entirely up to your budget and the specific needs of your team. To make sure that what you offer is well-received by your staff, we encourage you to gather feedback directly from employees first.

For inspiration, here’s a list of some great ideas you can incorporate into your wellness program.

employee recognition

2. Dedicate specific resources to mental health

Mental health might have disappeared in the background as a health priority in the past, but it’s now at the forefront for HR departments. It’s become clear that supporting mental health requires dedicated resources of its own. Organizations like One Mind even dedicate an annual award to recognize organizations for outstanding leadership in promoting workplace mental health. 

Some ways to support mental health in your company can be to:

  • Eliminate barriers to seeking professional care.
    This can mean offering separate mental health allowances or free access to telehealth counselling services. One example of a company that does this well is Thinkific; it offers employees a dedicated $2,000 mental health allowance.
  • Encourage open and transparent communication in the workplace
    By making it the norm for team members to speak up and for managers to check in more regularly, potential mental health struggles can be spotted and supported early before depression or burnout have a chance to take a toll.
  • Offering mindfulness and meditation workshops.
    Holding these workshops can help arm employees with the skills they need to navigate tough times and cope under moderate levels of stress.
employee wellness

3. Make employee recognition the norm

There are a few reasons why implementing an employee recognition program makes sense here. For one, we know that when team members are publicly rewarded and recognized, they feel a sense of fulfilment and purpose and have more opportunities to strengthen rapport with their colleagues. Both of these effects directly contribute to an employee’s happiness and therefore productivity in their role. It might not prevent them from getting the flu, but it can help offset feelings of isolation or a loss of purpose, especially in remote work environments.

When you roll out an employee recognition program, you can also get creative with how you reward and incentivize wellness. Some rewards and recognition software gives you the flexibility to work health into your program. You can reward staff for being the health champion of the month, for taking the stairs all week, or for bringing in a fruit plate for the office to enjoy. 

employee recognition


Rewarded behaviour often gets repeated, so when you reward staff for demonstrating healthy habits on the job, you can be sure they’ll be motivated to keep it up and influence others around them to follow suit. For a deeper dive into this idea, we suggest reading up on what to look for in a corporate rewards program and how rewarding employees can be made easy with software. 

So to summarize, healthy employees are the secret to having a more productive and satisfied workforce. If you’re looking to save on absenteeism costs or develop a positive workplace culture, invest in these health initiatives and you’ll be well on your way to making health and wellness a priority in your workplace. 

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