Easy, Low-Cost Wellness Ideas

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 Whether you’re working with a corporate wellness vendor or are taking small steps into the world of employee health, there are plenty of low-cost ways to promote a healthy workplace. Wellness programs can help businesses reduce health care costs and improve their bottom line, but you don’t need a Fortune 500 budget to take a proactive role in creating a happier, healthier culture.

Here are several creative and inexpensive ways to create a healthy work environment, improve employee morale and boost productivity:


Increase physical activity

Study after study shows that just 30 minutes of physical activity a day can help prevent a wide variety of costly health issues. You don’t need to offer free gym memberships or give every employee a new pair of running shoes; there are plenty of ways to get your workforce moving for little to no money. Here are a few suggestions:


  • Add signage by the elevator to encourage stair use. For example, “Burn calories, not electricity!”
  • Move often-used machines and appliances farther away from workspaces. Relocating the copier or coffee machine down the hallway will force employees to get up and move around throughout the day.
  • Designate a venue for physical activity. A simple running track or small exercise room can provide excellent opportunities for employees to engage in exercise.
  • Suggest walking meetings when your group size is six people or less. You’ll be surprised at how physical activity can boost your creative juices!
  • Emphasize face-to-face communication vs. phone or email conversations. Not only will you encourage your staff to move around the office, but you’ll also save a lot of wasted time. One quick face-to-face meeting can eliminate the unproductive back-and-forth of several emails.
  • Host midday or after-hour group exercises. Even if it’s a few laps around the office building or an exercise video you play in the conference room, it can easily meet that daily 30-minute exercise goal.


Encourage healthy choices

Your employees are making nutritional decisions while they’re at work, and you likely have more influence on those choices than you realize. Create an environment that offers healthy choices and makes it easy to eat well. Here are a few ways to make the best out of your break room:


  • Offer low-calorie choices if you bring in lunch.
  • If your employees have a favorite spot to eat or order takeout, highlight the healthy portions of the menus and leave them in the break room.
  • Encourage employees to spend their lunch breaks away from their desks; provide an area for them to sit outside or give them time to go out to eat and socialize with co-workers.
  • Trade that vending machine for something healthier or a steady supply of fruit and vegetables. Stock the cabinets with nuts or light popcorn instead of candy and potato chips.
  • Try a healthy employee potluck and encourage everyone to bring his or her favorite good-for-you recipe.
  • Celebrate employee birthdays with something other than cake – edible fruit bouquets, smoothie bars or frozen yogurt are all better options.
  • Provide healthy drinks and snacks for meetings; it’ll boost productivity and prevent employees from bringing in their own junk food during the day.


Create a culture of wellness

In order for employees to take their health seriously, employers need to do the same. Create an environment that promotes physical, emotional and social wellness throughout your workforce. Try implementing ideas like these:


  • Organize promotional events like “Walk/Bike to Work Week” or “No Soda Month” to create buzz around an active and healthy lifestyle.
  • Add a health/wellness tip to your monthly employee newsletter.
  • Create an outdoor work area with benches and outlets to inspire people to head outside.
  • Decorate conference rooms and meeting areas to encourage collaboration and to encourage employees to get up and away from their desks.
  • Have employees download an app or tool to remind them to take breaks. Dejal Time Out for Macs and Workrave for Windows provide alert systems to remind employees to get up and step away from their computers on a regular basis.
  • Post local fitness classes or events on your internal calendar/billboard. Try sign-up sheets for intramural sports, posters for marathons or charity runs, or information about free yoga classes offered at a local gym.
  • Remind employees to schedule their regular health, dental and vision checkups.
  • Plant a community garden outside and encourage employees to grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs.
  • Reward employees that meet their health and wellness goals. Whether they quit smoking, hit their goal weight or stop drinking soda, encourage your employees to share their successes and offer them a gift certificate or small token of congratulations.


These are all easy, inexpensive ways to make your employees happier and healthier. Whether you have a robust wellness program or none at all, implementing just some of these can help create a supportive environment that educates and encourages your employees to lead a better lifestyle. In the end, your staff will use fewer sick days and be more productive and more satisfied in their role with your company.

Image credit: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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