Workplace wellness programs have the stats to back them up: they can improve health, increase employee engagement, and boost productivity. Plus, employees say they want them. One poll from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found nearly 60% of employees believe employers should be out there improving their staff health—making wellness a valuable recruitment and retention tool.

That’s all great, but with your non-essential staff still working from home, what’s a workplace wellness initiative to do? There are a number of steps you can take to ensure your workplace wellness goals don’t fall by the wayside, and continue to make a difference for your employees’ mental and physical health.

Adjust Offerings to Online

Gym memberships and rebates are a popular wellness perk, but in the face of COVID-19, they can pose real challenges. Some states and cities haven’t allowed gyms to reopen, or are doing so with strict capacity and masking requirements which can be challenging for some users. Plus, many parents are dealing with homeschooling for the first time this year — getting to the gym might not be in the cards when the kids are always home.

Instead, look to online offerings. Gyms, healthcare companies, and other organizations are ramping up on-demand exercise and online-access classes in everything from spin to yoga. Many companies are forging partnerships with wellness apps and other providers to create online employee wellness programs — check to see if your benefits partners are offering corporate programs.

Create Company Challenges

Wellness challenges are great for morale and engagement, and can bring former officemates back to a feeling of camaraderie even if they’re working remotely now. All you really need to set up a challenge are some easily-met goals and a way to track data. Whether that’s through email/Slack and a spreadsheet, or through an app, is up to you!

If you go with a tech route, just be sure to use an app or tech that’s accessible to everyone — wearables tend to differ by personal preference, so a Fitbit challenge or Apple Health challenge might not fit your entire team’s tech.

Include Mental Health

Don’t think of wellness strictly in terms of steps, pounds, inches, or green vegetables. Mental health is an overlooked piece of wellness, and employees have been reporting increased issues with their mental health in the COVID-19 period. While improving diet and exercise can improve feelings of depression for many, it’s important not to over-simplify the causes and treatment of poor mental health.

Instead, encourage mindfulness, the use of apps to promote meditation or positive thinking, and make sure your leadership is empathetic and ready to get vulnerable, discuss their own challenges with their team, and communicate the benefits of EAP, if available.

Reducing stress, increasing feelings of good health, bringing your teams back together: workplace wellness initiatives might look different in 2020, but they’re truly more important than ever! Talk to your benefits providers about the potential programs you can leverage for your teams, or go the home-grown route with some wellness challenges. Either way, you’ll be doing your teams and your company a big favor.

Do you need help communicating and providing benefit updates to your teams? We can help! Contact us to learn about communication tools which can keep your team connected and in touch with all of their benefits.