40 Ideas for a Kick-Ass Remote Employee Wellbeing Program

Posted in Best Practice

by alicia

You already know why employee wellbeing matters. Happy, healthy employees are more productive and more engaged; they have longer tenures and fewer absences; they contribute more to the business’ bottom line.   

So you probably already have an employee wellbeing program of some description.

But COVID-19’s thrown a spanner in the works.

On-site yoga classes and healthy office snacks aren’t much good when your people are working from home. Plus – it’s a global pandemic! People are struggling with new stresses and anxieties.

And even as lockdown starts to ease, things won’t snap back to normal.

You’re likely to have many employees working remotely – either because they’re vulnerable, or because attitudes to the workplace have changed. (Our research shows 54% of employees want to work from home at least part-time after all this).

The point is, you’re in this for the long-haul. So now’s the time to refresh your employee wellbeing program, to help your people adapt to this new work reality.

Gallup say employee wellbeing consists of five elements – career, social, financial, community and physical wellbeing. Here are 40 ideas that cover all the bases.

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🥽 Prioritise employee safety 🥽

1 – Create a safety resources hub

Give your people a one-stop-shop for all the info they might need from company policies to the latest government health advice. With so many changes, it's important that access to information is as easy as possible.

2 - Subsidise safe commuting

As you start bringing people back to the office, think about how they’ll get there. Public transport might be crowded or operating under capacity, causing delays. Subsidising travel – like taxis or bike-to-work schemes – could help keep employees safe and happy.

3 - Provide PPE

If you're asking people back to work, you'll need to mitigate the risks with appropriate PPE and safety measures.

4 - Tackle presenteeism

Presenteeism costs businesses ten times more than absenteeism. And right now, presenteeism could be even more costly if it causes the virus to reignite.

Train managers to spot the signs and, as The HR Director recommend, ‘shift your culture so […] your employees’ health is appropriately valued’.

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🧠 Support mental health 🧠

5 – Provide trusted resources

Make sure your people can self-serve information, ideally from somewhere central like a hub. WHO have some great resources here.

6 – Run mental health seminars

The pandemic has made mental health an even bigger concern. Remove any sense of stigma or taboo by bringing this conversation into the light by inviting specialists to run virtual seminars around hot topics.

7 – Provide/subsidise access to specialists

Education is great but sometimes hands-on, one-to-one support is a better option. Providing access to counselling services enables your people to get help if they need it.

8 – Run team mental health chats

Mental health mustn’t be the elephant in the room. Encourage a culture where people can freely discuss mental health by holding regular mental health chats.

9 – Set up a buddy program

A robust support network is a weapon against mental health issues. A buddy program will help your people feel they have someone to confide in. (Because connection’s everything!)

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🥦 Encourage healthy eating 🥦

10 - Share healthy snack recipes

The fridge has a loud siren call. Especially if you’re not used to working from home or like some, find yourself now working from the kitchen table! Help your people ignore the lure of the 77th biscuit and the resulting sugar crash, by sharing healthy snack recipes.

11 - Send healthy snack subscription boxes

A great alternative if you normally provide healthy office snacks. If the budget’s not there for everyone, you could offer snackbox subscriptions as a reward.

12 - Run a virtual healthy cooking class

Your people are probably having to cook more than normal – and may have less time than usual too. That’s the perfect storm for unhealthy fast food. Inspire and educate them by bringing everyone together for a virtual cooking class. You don't even need to hire a pro, reach out to employees who love to cook and have them take the team through their favourite recipe.

13 - Create a collaborative office cookbook

Crowdsource healthy cooking inspiration. It’s a double whammy, supporting your people to eat well and fostering a sense of community. Publish it internally and create a company asset everyone’s proud to have been involved with.

14 - Run office healthy eating initiatives

Running non-compulsory initiatives along the lines of meat-free Mondays and Dry July could help put healthier habits front-of-mind.

15 - Talk to a healthy eating consultant

You might’ve previously hosted someone on-site to chat about healthy eating. Replicate that virtually on Zoom with teams and answer questions via email.

🏃‍♂️Promote exercise and fitness🏃‍♀️

16 – Run/share virtual exercise classes

On-site exercise classes are an employee wellbeing staple. Take them online so remote employees can join in. You could even run live virtual sessions, just like our team did!

17 – Share fitness tips

Create somewhere central where employees can chat about fitness, share their tips and experiences, and help each other achieve fitness goals.

18 – Run team fitness challenges

Sometimes you need some healthy competition (…😉) There are heaps of options, from step challenges to squat challenges. It’s about increasing accountability and camaraderie.

19 – Offer PT sessions

Virtual PT sessions or - when gyms reopen - real-life PT sessions could make a great prize for company fitness challenges.

20 – Incentivize support to drop unhealthy habits

Like smoking. Or not leaving the house for days at a time. Or eating 3000 cookies instead of cooking dinner. Or drinking 3 bottles of wine a night. Pandemic-anxiety has brought out many people’s bad habits.

21 – Provide or subsidise fitness wearables

In the office it’s easier to spot when someone’s been glued to their desk all day so you can give them a gentle nudge. At home, there’s less going on and less accountability. Providing fitness wearables would encourage employees to keep moving.

22 – Run virtual seminars

Have you already hosted in-office workshops on building a fitter lifestyle? Recreate that online with virtual seminars, so remote employees can benefit too.

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 🖥 Optimise home office spaces 🖥

23 - Buy/loan ergonomic home office equipment

With people working remotely, you lose control over their work environment. The problem is, poor equipment can have a productivity and health cost – and you’re still picking up the tab. (That’s why workplace safety returns 2.3 times ROI through reducing accidents and 0.4 times ROI through improved productivity).

Try buying, loaning or subsidising home-office equipment that meets your in-office standards.

24 - Subsidise a houseplant

In recent studies, adding houseplants to a barren office space increased productivity by 15% and decreased negative feelings by 58%.

Replicate those results with your remote workers! Encourage them to brighten up their home offices by subsidising a houseplant. It's a small, inexpensive gesture that speaks volumes.

25 - Subsidise internet upgrades

Slow internet causes frustration and hampers productivity – and with everyone stuck at home, your team might have less bandwidth available than usual. Subsidising internet upgrades could solve the problem.

26 - Subsidise data storage plans

Likewise, employees who’re unexpectedly working remotely might be butting up against unexpected data storage restrictions. It’s small things that cause friction and make work feel cumbersome.

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🎳 Reinforce work/life balance 🎳

27 - Enforce breaks!

When your team are working from home, the boundaries between work and life might blur. Don’t let them. Have clear offline times and breaks.

28 - Encourage staycations

Holidays are essential to employee wellbeing, but most people are reluctant to book anything at the moment.

Encourage your team to take time to recharge. You could even increase their holiday allowance slightly, to reduce the ‘cost’ of days off or give a company-wide day off on the premise that everyone uses that day to be kind to themselves and their mental health.

29 - Support flexible working

Flexibility is a major employee wellbeing driver – especially now, when everyone’s juggling more than normal. Being flexible will also help stop presenteeism too.

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 📕 Amplify career support 📕

30 - Increase manager check-ins

Many managers have been decreasing their interactions with their employees. When what they really need to be doing is offering consistent, regular support to teams, especially as everyone is facing new challenges with remote work.

31 - Increase L&D support

As we wrote recently, due to COVID-19 your people need more L&D support right now to navigate new skills and confidence gaps.

32 - Invest in new tools

Looking after employee wellbeing means ensuring your people have the right tools to excel. What they need might’ve changed– make sure you’ve updated your toolbox.

(And if you haven’t already, check out our Remote Work Experience platform for high-performing remote teams).

33 - Commit to giving regular updates

Transparent top-down communication is always important, but even more so during a crisis. A simple weekly company-wide email would help employees feel involved, looked after and less anxious.

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💰 Support financial health 💰

34 - Offer loans or grants

Many people are struggling with financial anxiety right now. Their partners might’ve lost jobs, for example. Financial anxiety can lead to presenteeism.

If you can, offering assistance – like a salary advance, or shopping vouchers – could make a world of difference to employees.

35 - Create a financial resource hub

Short-term loans may help get employees’ out of a sticky patch but offering financial education can be life-changing. You could host virtual seminars from personal finance experts too.

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🙌🏻 Facilitate remote socialising 🙌🏻

36 - Make internal video meetings fun

Interpersonal connections are crucial to employee wellbeing – but a lot of teams are feeling unusually disconnected right now.

Look for opportunities to have fun, like… showing off home offices (and home pets!), Zoom background competitions or internal meeting fancy dress. Or, you know, you could go full-on Red Dead Redemption

Need inspiration? Check out some of the ways we're maintaining human connection remotely

37 - Run a virtual happy hour

Remote working can easily become all work, no play. Recreate in-office processes for remote workers – like a virtual happy hour. You could even allocate teams a budget and reimburse them for a few drinks. You’re not paying for the office beer fridge right now, after all…

38 - Create Spotify playlists

When you start working remotely, it’s often the little things you miss most – like the buzzing office atmosphere. Bring your office soundtrack to everyone’s homes by creating shared playlists. You could even buy everyone a month of Spotify, so they can listen without those annoying ads.

39 - Hold team appreciation sessions

Working from home, many of the little in-office pats on the back that help employees feel appreciated are missing.

Encourage teams to call-out colleagues who’re doing a great job. You could hold a weekly call-out session, encourage positive shout outs in the company Slack channel and even give small surprise rewards.

40 - Run online game competitions

Working from home, your people miss usual bonding sessions like going to the pub for lunch together, a quick round of FIFA, or evening five-a-side. Recreate those opportunities with online games – competitive or collaborative. You could get the whole company involved with online scoreboards and small prizes.

Employee wellbeing is super important, but COVID-19 has disrupted many of your normal wellbeing practices. Embed some of these 40 tips instead, to make sure nobody’s falling through the cracks.   

Enboarder help businesses build and deliver incredible employee experiences.  Check out our Remote Work Experience platform here – we’re offering it at cost right now, to support you to support your people.