The thing is, employee wellbeing and happiness isn’t just about nap rooms, onsite massages, and cafeterias serving healthy food and snacks (though that would be nice!)
Just about everyone is somewhat (if not completely) jealous of the amazing perks and employee wellness ideas that global giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and others offer to keep their employees happy, healthy, and super motivated.
Locally, Monash University was recognised for its employee wellness ideas through its Wellbeing at Monash program which was developed to support staff to adopt healthy work and lifestyle practices. The Monash program takes a holistic approach to health through providing programs on mindfulness and stress, physical activity classes and support around quitting smoking.
The thing is, employee wellbeing and happiness isn’t just about nap rooms, onsite massages, and cafeterias serving healthy food and snacks (though that would be nice!). It’s about doing what you can to show your employees that you care about them and their wellbeing.
Low budget employee wellness ideas
Of course, investment in your people’s wellbeing delivers on the bottom line in terms of lower absenteeism, lower injury related insurance claims, and fewer internal squabbles. This in turn translates into happier workplaces with loyal employees, higher productivity and high quality output.
Budget won’t stretch to the high benchmarks set by the tech giants overseas, or Monash University over here? Never fear. Developing and implementing employee wellness programs is all about figuring out what makes your people happy, and what keeps them healthy. And then get creative and build a work environment based on those ideas.
To help get you started, here are 4 quirky (read: low cost) employee wellness ideas you can adopt to put wellbeing front and centre in your workplace.
Ever noticed how every tech startup comes replete with a ping pong table or two? That’s because ping pong is actually a fun and inexpensive way for employees to refresh themselves mentally and physically, and engage with their coworkers. Ping pong gets the brain racing, helps people develop tactical thinking skills, provides aerobic exercise, and brings out everyone’s competitive nature! A quick ping pong match in the middle of the day strengthens relationships within the team and allows team members to switch off for a short time, before returning to the job at hand more focused and alert.
In terms of cost, you can pick up a ping pong table from Kmart for about $100, so it’s not a major expense for all the good it brings. The biggest decision you need to make is where to house it!
Take a leaf out of Lend Lease’s book – their office in Sydney’s Barangaroo contains a 6-metre-high breathing green wall with more than 5000 plants. Meanwhile atop Macquarie Bank’s offices at Sydney’s Martin Place there’s a rooftop garden incorporating a vegetable garden and free range chickens.
A green wall will help to vastly improve the air quality of your office. This can lead to greater employee productivity and overall health, since cleaner air leads to better concentration, healthier employees and fewer sick days.
To start growing your green wall, speak to plant rental companies in your area or consult with specialist green wall designers to see what’s the most affordable option.
Mindfulness and meditation
The use of mindfulness and meditation techniques are on the rise in the corporate world in a bid to combat the increasing problems associated with workplace stress. The theory goes that by being more in tune with their thoughts, mindfulness empowers employees to focus, speak up, and push back against unrealistic work demands.
Companies that offer mindfulness training report enhanced productivity, creativity, innovation, and better problem solving abilities, which are also key traits of highly engaged employees.
Even if you’re not ready to offer a mindfulness program just yet, designating a private space for general “chillaxing” is a great start. You can hold lunch time yoga or meditation sessions, and provide a place for people to take a moment away from their desks in a calm and tranquil setting.
Once you’ve found a suitable Zen space, all you need to do is remove traditional office furniture and replace it with cushions or comfy lounges, and ensure you can filter the light with an appropriate window dressing. Then all you need to do is light some calming, and soothing scented candles, and say “Om!”.
Enshrining the lunch break
While you can’t force people to leave the office at lunchtime, research shows that employees who work through their lunch break suffer higher rates of burnout. Taking just 30 minutes away from the office can boost energy levels and help people become more productive during the afternoon.
To encourage your people to get away from their desks and make the most of their lunch break, get creative and promote walking activities around your neighbourhood. Think about setting up teams and offering incentives to the team that logs the most steps within a certain timeframe. Or perhaps it could be as simple as walking a couple of blocks to try out a new healthy eatery.
If you’ve set up your Zen space, then you can also encourage your people to use it to meditate, doodle, or take a power nap at lunch. In terms of cost, this one comes without a price tag, though you should see its benefits in terms of happier staff and higher levels of productivity.
What are you waiting for?
As you can see, incorporating employee wellness ideas into the everyday isn’t hard and it doesn’t have to be expensive. And the best thing is, looking after your employees will actually save your company money in the long run through increased productivity and lower turnover.
For more ideas, download our Employee Wellness Guide. When you show your employees that you care about their health and wellbeing, they respond by being more engaged with your business and more productive too.
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