Corporate wellness programs: nurturing a healthy workforce


Napoleon once observed that an army marches on its stomach.

Actually, he probably didn't really say that, but no matter. Whoever coined that truism was making the point that if you expect people to perform at their best, you need to first ensure that you are addressing their basic needs. In other words, the most productive workforce is a happy workforce.

We've come a long way since Napoleon's day. A belly full of army-grade grub might still be incentive enough to some, but savvy employers know that a competitive package of benefits and perks can go a long way when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.

We have previously looked at how a focus on workforce wellness can improve employee retention in the hospitality industry, but employee wellness programs have become popular in many other sectors as well. A comprehensive wellness program can boost employee engagement and increase job satisfaction, and that's ultimately good for employees' health and the bottom line.

In an interview with Corporate Wellness Magazine, Csilla Lorincz, a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist, offered a few guidelines for employers designing a corporate wellness program:

My advice would be to design wellness programs that seamlessly integrate into employees' lives, ensuring they are not seen as additional tasks. For optimal engagement, these programs should be both enjoyable and easy to participate in, fostering a culture of well-being that employees willingly will take part in.

Here are a few common components of corporate wellness programs.

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Health risk assessments


As part of a corporate wellness program, employees may undergo physical health screenings to identify potential risks and receive personalized recommendations for improvement.

These might include biometric screenings to measure physical characteristics like blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body mass index (BMI) to assess overall health.

Fitness challenges

Companies often organize fitness challenges, encouraging employees to engage in physical activities and providing incentives for participation and achievement.

A corporate step challenge, for example, encourages participants to take more steps each day, tracking them over a set span of time, usually a couple of weeks or months. In addition to boosting employees' physical fitness, a step challenge also promotes healthy competition and teamwork.

Mental health support

Employee wellness programs may offer resources such as counselling services to help workers manage personal or work-related stress, anxiety and other challenges. Employers can also take the following steps to support employees' psychological well-being:

Promote a healthy work-life balance

  • Encourage employees to take breaks and use their vacation time.

  • Set realistic expectations for workload and deadlines.

  • Distribute work evenly and prioritize tasks effectively.

Provide a positive work environment

  • Foster a culture of respect and inclusivity.

  • Recognize and reward achievements and efforts.

  • Develop and implement policies that prioritize mental health.

  • Institute a zero-tolerance policy for workplace harassment.

Clear communication

  • Ensure clear communication about expectations and changes.

  • Provide regular updates on the organization's well-being initiatives.

  • Schedule regular one-on-one meetings to discuss work and well-being.

  • Create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their concerns.

Peer support programs

  • Establish mentorship or buddy systems to create a support network.

  • Encourage employees to check in on each other.

Training and education

  • Conduct mental health awareness training for employees and managers, so they will be equipped to recognize signs of mental health issues.

  • Establish procedures for providing support when issues arise.

  • Destigmatize mental health by fostering an open and supportive culture.


Access to mental health days

  • Allow employees to take mental health days when needed.

  • Normalize the concept of taking time off for mental health reasons.

Evaluate and adjust

  • Regularly assess the effectiveness of mental health initiatives.

  • Be open to feedback and make adjustments as needed.

Smoking cessation programs

Smoking has been proven to contribute to emphysema, bronchitis and a number of other chronic diseases. Many corporate wellness programs include support for employees looking to quit smoking, including counseling, nicotine replacement therapy or other resources.

Physical activity initiatives


Companies can encourage their employees to stay active by offering them gym memberships or on-site fitness classes. A good wellness program may also include rewards or incentives for achieving health-related goals or participating in wellness activities.

Ergonomics and workplace safety

Any workforce will benefit from programs that focus on creating a healthier work environment, addressing issues like ergonomic workstations and promoting safety and healthy habits.

Health education

Support employee health and wellness by offering workshops, seminars or webinars to educate employees on various health topics, such as nutrition, exercise, stress management, preventive care and even financial wellness.

Flexible work arrangements

Your employee wellness program should include policies that support work-life balance, including options for flexible schedules or remote work. (You might even discover that you have some aspiring digital nomads on your team.)

Gartner reports that what it calls "human-centric work design" — an approach that includes flexible work experiences, intentional collaboration opportunities and empathetic management — can increase employee performance by as much as 54%


Informed employees are healthy employees

You might not think of a digital news platform as a natural part of an employee wellness program, but offering PressReader as a job perk can support the mental and physical health of employees in a number of ways.

For instance, among the 7,000-plus newspapers and magazines to be found on the world’s largest digital newsstand, PressReader has a number of publications that focus on health and wellness.

Your workforce likely comes from all over the globe, and PressReader's unparalleled selection of publications from around the world will help them keep up with current events back home and in their back yard. As Napoleon once observed, informed employees are healthy employees.

Well, okay, maybe he didn't really say that, either.


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