Corporate Wellness Programs Need an Overhaul—Starting with These 3 Components 

UPDATED: June 8, 2023
PUBLISHED: May 15, 2022
Corporate Wellness Programs Need an Overhaul—Starting with These 3 Components 

In the past, having an employee wellness program was a nice perk for companies to offer. But as we enter the third year of the pandemic, mental and physical health are stretched thin. Amid the Great Resignation, having a comprehensive employee wellness program has now become essential in attracting and retaining top talent. Now more than ever, companies need to create more effective wellness programs, as employees need these wellness programs in order to be resilient and still succeed during these difficult times.

According to a 2020 survey conducted by Deloitte, 80% of 9,000 surveyed respondents identified well-being as being important or very important to the overall success of their organization. Employees are some of the greatest assets an organization can have, and designing a workplace culture along with programs that keep them healthy, happy, productive and engaged, is critical for meeting company goals and objectives. Employees need to consistently feel their best in order to consistently perform at their best.

As we progress through the pandemic and experience continued uncertainty as to what the future holds, it’s critical for employee wellness programs to be prioritized and also evolve and grow according to the latest world developments, workplace trends and ever-changing employee needs. Providing employees with timely and useful well-being tools can strengthen their connection and loyalty to the company over time.

Here are three essential components every corporate wellness program should have in order to be successful.

1. A holistic health and wellness focus 

In order to help employees be at their best both personally and professionally, it’s important to think of them as whole people, which means creating wellness programs that focus holistically on physical health, mental health, emotional health, career health, financial health and more. Gone are the days when wellness programs simply involved 10k team races, step challenges or discounted gym memberships. 

It’s becoming increasingly important to think not only about exercise, but also nutrition, mindfulness, stress management, career growth, financial management and work-life balance. Having these components can make up a well-rounded and balanced program for employees to thrive both inside and outside of the workplace. They can also help reduce the number of sick days and healthcare costs companies accrue to due employee overwork, burnout or health issues.

2. The ability to customize for individual employees  

Every employee has different needs, schedules and motivators, therefore, creating customizable and flexible wellness programs can allow organizations to best serve their employees in ways that work for them. For example, working parents may benefit most from remote working arrangements in order to have flexibility for their kids, or livestream fitness classes or nutrition webinars that they can participate in from home. 

Employees who don’t have children and want to be in the office more may benefit from on-site wellness programs such as healthy cooking classes or mindfulness sessions. Some employees may be struggling more with their mental health due to the pandemic, so offering counseling services both virtually and in-person could be beneficial.

Many employees may also be interested in virtual or in-person mentorship programs, career development support or strengths-based coaching for them to approach their jobs and careers in new ways. Other employees may need some support and education in financial management, investing and saving, especially as our economy rises and falls during these unpredictable times. 

3. Allow for direct employee feedback 

Employee feedback is critical in understanding if wellness programs are working or not and can help increase employee engagement, productivity and loyalty. While many company leaders have felt in the past that corporate wellness programs were difficult to measure in terms of ROI, the best way to know if your wellness programs are working is to ask the employees themselves. 

In addition to learning about what is and isn’t working, employees can offer invaluable insights on what additional programs, resources or services would be beneficial for them. By giving them a voice, they’ll feel empowered and more vested in current and future programs because they’ll have a say in what the programs could look like. 

It’s also important to check in with employees on a recurring basis vs. asking for their feedback only once or twice. Consider sending out regular surveys or hold team or department meetings with employees, HR and people operations leaders to gather feedback every month, every quarter or every six months. These regular check-ins can really help with the evolution of wellness programs over time.

Times are constantly changing. Therefore workplace culture, dynamics, wellness programs and employee benefits must change accordingly as well. It’s the best way to stay relevant, competitive, effective and successful both now and in the future.

Photo by @alinabuzunova/Twenty20

Reena Vokoun

Reena Vokoun, Founder and CEO of Passion Fit, is an entrepreneur, author, public speaker, content creator, marketer, media spokesperson, personal and professional development coach and consultant and certified health and wellness expert through AFAA, ACE, IDEA Fitness and Gallup. Reena is a TEDx speaker and has written for outlets including Shape, Working Mother and Thrive Global. Connect with her on Facebook @passionfit or visit her blog.