21 Out of the box employee wellness ideas

Here are our top 21 out of the box wellness ideas. Use them in your own wellbeing strategy or simply as a source of inspiration.

1.   Flexible working

Not exactly an out of the box wellness idea, but arguably one of the most impactful wellbeing policies you can introduce. To be honest, a lot of organisations were warming to the idea of flexible and hybrid working before the pandemic, so it may already be the norm in your culture. But if it isn’t, here’s your chance to make a meaningful change to your employees’ lives. Not to mention, more and more candidates are only considering companies with flexible working policies. So if you don't have one, think of this as a friendly reminder to get started.

2.   Digital wellbeing platforms

In the past, wellbeing perks were limited to subsidised gym memberships and maybe discounts at local sports stores. But with the rise in online shopping, streaming, and wellbeing webinars, employers now offer a greater breadth of digital resources — including wellbeing platforms.

Wellbeing platforms are one of the most cost-effective wellbeing resources out there because they do many things. From an app, employees can take part in workouts, relax with meditations, and even listen to health webinars.

At Perkbox, we take workplace wellness seriously, which is why we partnered with wellbeing experts to deliver the best health content from both web and mobile apps. When you use our global solution, your teams automatically benefit from a range of physical and mental health resources, including videos, webinars, meditations, and more.

Find out how Perkbox can help you support your employees’ physical and mental health here.

3. A device-free break room

We all spend too much time on screens. Especially if we work in an office. During our breaks we swap our monitors for phones. But creating a separate space to encourage employees to switch off from their devices and spend just 10–15 minutes with no digital distractions has many benefits.1

How about leaving a pack of cards in there, or some books and magazines? You’d be surprised at how quickly people adjust and put down their phones when given the opportunity. If you don't have the space to create a separate break room, sectioning off an area with a screen and set of chairs should work just as well. But keep in mind the urge to pick up a phone will be harder to resist!

4. Outdoor meetings — weather permitting

We’ll be honest, this is probably a better idea in the spring and summer when the weather is more pleasant and predictable. Still, taking meetings outdoors for just a few months of the year, provides a much-needed boost to your teams’ mental and physical wellbeing. Being out in the fresh air alone reduces stress levels, which is great if you want your attendees to be fully engaged and present during your meeting.

Now of course, some meetings work better outdoors than others, for example, one-to-ones and small team catch-ups. But, if you do need to present, lots of venues hire out their rooftop gardens for corporate events — big and small. So don’t discard this idea if your meeting requires additional tech equipment. Depending on the venue, some also stock their own projectors and screens, so all you need to do is bring a laptop.

5. Weekly wellness newsletter

Making workplace wellness a priority begins with small steps. First actions could look like creating a weekly wellbeing newsletter which provides useful information and links to internal and external resources. Maybe you begin with a mindfulness quote, or include a fun health fact? Either way, gathering data on the type and length of content your employees value will steer you in the right direction.

If you’ve invested in mental and physical wellbeing resources, consider linking to a webinar. If financial wellbeing is a focus, linking to a small talk on pension advice or debt management is a great idea. Or, if mental wellbeing is a priority, showcase the most popular meditations and yoga flows on your wellbeing app. This type of content strategy is a win-win, as not only are you making wellbeing a priority but you're also promoting your wellbeing platform too — increasing the ROI of your wellness programs.

With Perkbox you get to keep all of your company updates and comms in one easy-to-find place. Reach all of your employees with engaging visual cards no matter where they’re based — be it down the road or across the globe. Shout about your wellbeing ideas and link to your employee’s favourite workouts and more.

6. Walking, or wellness Wednesday

Sophisticated wellness programs are great at making wellbeing activities more accessible as they contain everything employees need to stay happy and healthy. But carving out time in the day for people to practise small healthy habits like a lunchtime walk has additional value. We suggested Wednesday as it’s the middle of the week — when most people are likely to be in the office. But if other days work better for you, go with them. Either way, encourage employees to get that all-important exercise during the working week!

7. Wellbeing rewards and fun fitness challenges

Incentives are powerful motivators and are the go-to solution for encouraging employees to behave in a way that’s in alignment with your culture and values. So why not include them in your wellbeing strategy? How about giving away a voucher to the first employee to hit 100,000 steps? Or host a healthy cooking competition?

Luckily, when you choose Perkbox you get functionality that includes polls and rewards. Get people to vote on what challenges they want to see, then reward the winners with Reward points after the competitions have ended. The more points an employee has, the bigger the reward they can claim. And, because all of our rewards are global you can involve international offices too.

But if you really want to embed wellbeing into your culture, make it a value on the Perkbox app — which your employees can tag when they send each other recognition for hitting their wellbeing milestones.

8. Onsite massage

In addition to relieving tension, massage therapy has excellent mental health benefits and can relieve stress. Now, there are many approaches to hiring a masseuse for a day. A masseuse may be part of a gym or wellness facility linked with your organisation, or offer their services as a self-employed contractor. If they are a contractor your employees could pay out of their own pocket for a massage, or you could offer it as part of a health cash back plan.

Employee enjoying an onsite massage as part of a wellness day

9. Personal development courses — with a twist

Usually, we associate wellbeing with physical activity, mindfulness, and eating healthy foods. But there are so many facets of wellbeing that aren’t immediately obvious and development is one of them. Mastering a particular skill, or simply growing in confidence through training has a huge impact on employee mental wellbeing.

Out of the box development courses include:

  • Stand up comedy and improv: To master public speaking.
  • Storytelling workshops: To improve communication.
  • Laughter yoga (Hasya Yoga): Realising the power of breathwork during times of stress.

When people apply their newly learned knowledge they get a sense of fulfilment and are motivated to go above and beyond. This not only increases employee happiness, but also productivity.

10.   Wellness day or health fair

The good thing about wellness days is that there are no rules, what you focus on is entirely up to you. Some organisations make nutrition a priority because they want to encourage their employees to make healthier food choices. Whereas others want to improve employee health through physical activity, so focus on keeping everyone active. Whatever you want your corporate wellness day to be, just make sure your events are in alignment with your wellbeing goals. If they aren’t you run the risk of the day appearing unstructured.

11. Sit to standing desks

Giving your employees the option to work from both a seated or standing position means they can stretch and move their legs while working. Both of these actions increase physical activity and consequently blood flow to the brain, which can boost focus and productivity. We all know being sedentary for hours is not good for our mental and physical health. Consequently, alternating how our employees — or we work, has numerous health-protecting qualities that shouldn’t be overlooked.

12. Wellbeing recreational room

Dedicating a space to wellbeing where people can listen to meditations or even take part in virtual fitness classes, increases your employees’ awareness of their health. Of course, we understand that office space is precious, but if you do have a spare room think about converting it into a mini wellness centre. Your employees likely have very busy personal lives, so giving them space to work on their health goals in the office will benefit them a great deal.

13. Smoothie day – or week in canteen

Getting enough fruit and veg into our diets can be tough. We’re constantly on the go and convenience foods require very little thought. And cooking from scratch after a day’s work is sadly often at the bottom of our mental to-do list! But, offering smoothies throughout the week — or for one day, may encourage people to consume more whole foods, instead of processed alternatives. However, not all smoothies are equal. Some are very high in sugar, especially if they contain a high volume of concentrated fruit juice, instead of water or ice. So keep this in mind when making or borrowing smoothie recipes. 

14. Ergonomic desk check-ups

Correcting postural issues sooner rather than later helps prevent absences relating to back pain, neck pain, and even headaches. It’s good to think of ergonomic desk check-ups as mini health risk assessments. After all, poor posture over time can result in physical injury if left uncorrected.

That said, it’s not just desks that need checking. Good corporate wellness programs include the time and resources to analyse and improve the entire working environment. Chairs should be fully adjustable to accommodate a range of heights — the same goes for monitors too. Plus, wrist rests should be included with keyboards to minimise the risk of repetitive strain injury.

15. Mindful coffee breaks

Harness the power of mindfulness during a tea or coffee break. Coffee meditation is a grounding exercise that helps reduce stress by keeping employees in the present. To get your teams on board with the idea, we recommend telling them about the benefits of coffee meditation and how to do it. The most difficult part of this exercise is resisting the temptation of phone checking, but other than that it's really simple. All they have to do is pay attention to the coffee aroma, while observing the colours and savouring its taste. It’s this increased awareness that makes preparing tea or coffee an exercise in meditation.

16. Virtual pilates and yoga classes in the office

We’re all extremely busy these days, and taking care of our health is increasingly difficult as our responsibilities in the office and home grow. But making exercise more accessible, from either a pricing or availability perspective can encourage us to get moving and thinking about our health.

Offering virtual and on-demand classes as part of your employee wellness program opens up a range of wellbeing possibilities for everyone. Plus, with our wellbeing platform, we include a range of pilates and yoga classes that all team members will enjoy. If you have a dedicated wellbeing space you could play a yoga class during lunch.

17. Try something new

There are plenty of mind-body benefits of trying a new skill. Apart from increasing motivation, picking up a new hobby also boosts confidence and happiness.

Inspiring your employees to do this though, needn’t be difficult. Naturally, some suggestions will resonate with some people more so than others, but don’t let this put you off.

Communicating the benefits of hobbies bi-weekly or just once a month could make a real difference to your employees’ lives. After all, there’s more to life than working. Plus, helping them find an activity they can enjoy outside of office hours benefits company culture too.

A holistic discounts and perks package includes deals on days out, immersive experiences, and creative workshops. Additionally, showcasing these savings in your comms makes trying something new more affordable. While also increasing the usage of your employee experience solution.

18. Corporate discounts on healthy products

Healthy employees are happy employees, which is great for employee engagement and other experiences. By supporting healthy eating for example, with discounts on nutritious foods, you’re making it easier for them to make healthier decisions.

But as we all know, healthy living is complex and multifaceted. What motivates one person to take care of their health differs from another. For this reason, your discount scheme needs to be comprehensive and target multiple wellbeing elements.

Fortunately, with Perkbox you not only get access to a wellbeing platform, but also a global perks and benefits package. With 1,000s of discounts across a broad range of categories, including health and beauty. Your employees can save money on their wellbeing spending all year round.

19. Source healthy snacks sustainably

When it comes to building healthy eating habits in the workplace, be the change you want to see. Or in other words, model the behaviours you want your employees to engage in. If healthy eating is an important part of your wellbeing strategy take the and introduce a greater range of healthy snacks in the office.

While everyone knows about the health benefits of eating more whole foods, the sustainability wins aren’t as widely known. Especially with regards to reducing food waste. If sustainability and wellbeing are core values, have a look at produce subscription boxes that rescue fruit and veg that otherwise would have been wasted.

20. Laughter

When people say laughter is the best medicine they aren't completely wrong. Laughter boosts blood oxygen levels and increases endorphins — hormones that make us feel happy. So it’s not surprising that having a laugh at work boosts office morale and protects us against workplace stress.

Obviously employing a full-time office comedian is out of the question. But looking into comedy workshops is a more realistic option. If you’re lucky to have comedy clubs nearby, consider integrating trips to them in your people and employee wellness strategy. After all, those who laugh together, stay together — or in business speak, work more effectively as a team.

21. Free flu vaccinations

In 2021, the UK sickness absence rate increased to 2.2% up from a very low 1.8% in 2020.2 Common illnesses for taking time off included flu. Giving your employees flu vaccines can reduce the risk of them developing serious flu symptoms — consequently, preventing prolonged periods of absences.

Some of your employees may already be entitled to free flu vaccines on the NHS. Usually, this is because they are above a certain age or have an underlying health condition. Nevertheless, it’s also important that those who aren’t entitled can receive a flu vaccine should they want one.

5 Unique wellness activities for remote employees

Some of the employee wellness ideas listed in the previous section can be adapted to accommodate remote employees. But here, we specifically list the best wellness activities for employees who don’t work in a traditional office.

Want to build the ultimate wellbeing programme for remote employees? Learn how in our free ebook.

1. On-demand fitness

Not working in an office comes with its own unique set of wellbeing challenges. For example, when working from home, it’s easy to stay in one spot for hours on end. Gone are the team tea breaks, and nobody is talking about what they’re doing for lunch.

But if your remote teams have access to on-demand fitness classes they can choose a workout and get moving from the comfort of their own home. Moreover, giving your teams the resources to make more active choices shows their health is your priority.

2. Stress management workshops

To alleviate stress in the workplace, begin by checking your employees’ workloads and role requirements Once this is done you can then turn to stress management workshops to increase employee resilience. Unfortunately, stress management courses aren’t a silver bullet for reducing burnout if departments are going through a tough time. This is why you try to remedy any sources of stress first.

Lots of stress management therapists offer courses over video calls, which makes them ideal for remote employees. A typical structure includes learning mindfulness techniques, followed by an exercise. Please do keep in mind that workshops vary depending on the practitioner’s style.

Employees high fiving during a stress management workshop

3. Healthy subscription boxes

Fruit bowls are a staple in many offices. But with the work-from-home revolution, some of your newly remote employees could be missing out on their 5 a day. Sending a small fruit box to their home once a week is a nice touch to show you’re thinking of them despite not being based in the office.

For more special occasions, or if you’re celebrating wellness day, there are unique wellness boxes. The items a wellness box contains relate to a theme, and given how popular they are, you have plenty to choose from. Popular wellbeing boxes include items for yoga, running, and even hiking. But if you want a personal touch there are options to build your own.  

4. Global discounts and reward points to support healthy habits

Offering your remote teams a competitive selection of wellbeing discounts and perks is one of the best investments in their health you can make. With Perkbox your employees can save money every day on healthy food shops, gym memberships, and activewear. Plus with an allowance of Flexi points each month they can unlock premium wellbeing content at no cost to them.

Moreover, because the platform uses a points-based rewards feature your employees can spend Reward points on a range of wellbeing products and experiences. Employees receive points from managers — who can send them with or without a message of recognition.

5. 4 pm Friday virtual socials and pop-up teleparties

Friday night drinks and mid-week lunches are something employees look forward to and miss when they work from home. But, putting time aside for everyone to catch up in an informal video call is the next best thing to get everyone back together and socialising. We suggested Fridays at 4 pm but if people want to get away swiftly, choose another day of the week.

To make the socials a bit more interesting, you could hold a quiz or workshop. If you have any artists among your teams, how about asking them to give tips on drawing? You could also stream a film and send all of your employees a box of popcorn to create cinema night.

Spot the signs of anxiety and loneliness in your remote workforce and learn how to help with our free ebook.

Use out of the box wellness ideas today

Coming up with out of the box wellness ideas is great. But if you don't have core wellbeing policies, such as flexible working you’re limiting their impact.

Still, thinking about employee health in different ways increases engagement and keeps wellbeing at the forefront of everyone’s mind. To put it bluntly, you can never do enough when it comes to employee health. There are always processes and policies you can improve upon.

Also, don’t forget that it’s never too late to start making a difference to your employees’ health. Whether you’re launching a start-up or are helping an organisation revamp their current wellbeing policy. Small changes compound over time and result in huge transformations.

If you want to know how Perkbox can help you deliver out of the box wellbeing policies, request a demo today and a member of our team will get back to you.

HR team discussing out of the box wellness ideas

Out of the box wellness ideas: your FAQs answered

What do employees want in a wellness program?

We’re not going to sugarcoat this, coming up with new employee wellness program ideas is challenging. All of your employees have different wellbeing goals and you need to engage all of them. Moreover, even when everyone is keen, their health priorities vary, so you need to cater to different ability levels too.

Before you change or launch a wellness program you need to find out what your employees want or are interested in. You can do this with emails, polls, surveys, and other global comms tools. Making an event of it, such as a health town hall is another great idea.

How do you promote personal wellness in the workplace?

What are out of the box wellness ideas?

Optimise your employee wellbeing strategy and prevent burnout

We've put together this guide to help you create the best possible employee wellbeing strategy.

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