Skip to navigation
5 Min Read

7 Out of the Box Wellness Ideas to Try at Your Organization

Claire Beveridge

Most workplaces offer what they can when it comes to wellness, but is it enough? 

Benefits coverage and the occasional wellness spending account don’t cut it anymore. 

Only a quarter of U.S. employees feel their organization cares about their well-being—a significant drop from 50% pre-pandemic.

To go above and beyond in wellness, today’s employers must offer initiatives that engage employees and support employee well-being for the long term.

Offering creative, unconventional, and surprising wellness initiatives can show employees that their well-being is important and prioritized.

In this article, we’ll introduce several out of the box wellness ideas for HR professionals to implement to create a happier, healthier workplace.

1. Fitness and exercise gamification

We all know physical activity is a big piece of the wellness puzzle, but getting to the gym after a day of Zoom meetings can feel near impossible. 

Incorporating gamified challenges and promoting physical activity is a great way to boost employee engagement. When wellness activities come with rewards and recognition, employees are more likely to feel motivated and inspired to participate.

You also help employees achieve their fitness goals and put wellness front and center (which encourages a little friendly competition while you’re at it!)

Workplace fitness challenges could look like:

  • Step competitions: Most of us have step counters on our phones. Using that data to encourage daily movement can be fun to get employees out of the house and into the great outdoors. 
  • Virtual races: For smaller teams working remotely, you can map out a similar route for each employee and organize a virtual race. If your team is distributed, you can also group employees living in the same area and organize an Amazing Race style challenge. 
  • Team sports leagues: Never played in a dodgeball or softball league? Now’s your chance! If your team is in-office or hybrid, team sports leagues are a great opportunity to bond and break a sweat.

2. Mindfulness breaks

For busy workplaces, taking a five-minute mindfulness break in the middle of the day might seem about as doable as running a quick marathon on the way home from work. 

But as the old saying goes, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

Schedule short mindfulness breaks, such as guided meditation sessions or breathing exercises, throughout the workday to send a powerful message to employees who feel strapped for time. 

Normalizing breaks like this will reduce stress, improve focus, and increase productivity by giving employees a chance to reset.

3. Volunteer programs

Studies show that volunteering has positive effects on well-being. It improves mental and physical health, gives volunteers a sense of purpose, and provides them a unique chance to create and foster relationships. 

Offering work-sanctioned volunteer opportunities to encourage employees to jump-start the virtuous cycle associated with volunteer work. 

By partnering with local charities or nonprofits, you can offer employees the opportunity to get involved easily rather than leaving it to them to schedule volunteer work on their own time.

4. Flexible work arrangements

Offering flexible working arrangements helps employees manage their time, workloads, and personal commitments and provides them with a sense of autonomy. This helps reduce stress and contributes to a positive work environment and work-life balance.

If you’re concerned that remote or flexible work will negatively impact productivity or management effectiveness, consider using performance management software to track and improve your team’s most important metrics.

5. Creative wellness workshops

Many of us have dropped in on a lunchtime yoga class, but how many have stepped out of their comfort zone and tried laughter yoga? 

Encouraging employees to think about wellness in new and exciting ways can help create a sense of well-being for anyone a little tired of the same old approaches.

For example, you could bring in experts or facilitators to lead engaging and interactive sessions on topics like art therapy, sound healing, or unconventional fitness classes, which can help bring employees out of a wellness rut and foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture.

6. Employee skill swaps

We often hear leaders say that employees should bring their whole selves to work, but what does that really mean in the context of work? 

Facilitating skill-sharing sessions where employees can teach others about their hobbies or interests outside of work is a great opportunity to bring that promise to life. 

Maybe there’s an employee at your organization who’s passionate about wood carving or another who can teach a 101 workshop on DJing. 

Giving these employees a chance to share their knowledge—and give other employees a chance to learn something new—can build camaraderie and teamwork in ways a coding workshop never will.

7. Tech-free zones

It can be easy to spend all day staring at a screen—especially at work. This decreases face-to-face communication and increases digital fatigue, which can lead to burnout.

If your organization is in-office, designate certain areas as tech-free zones for relaxation and socialization. Giving employees a chance to be truly present can yield surprising results. 

When you set explicit boundaries around tech use, you can encourage employees to disconnect from screens and connect in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. 

Out of the box wellness initiatives for out of this world results

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding wellness initiatives that will work well at your organization. 

Every workplace has its unique culture, and every workforce will respond differently to new initiatives. It’s important to explore and experiment with different out of the box wellness ideas, then invite feedback to see what works.

Ask for employee feedback on wellness initiatives. See if your employees have suggestions for wellness programs they want to participate in. If they’re stumped, try one of the solutions above and see if it increases employee engagement or promotes positive feedback. 

Want to learn more about driving engagement at your organization? Schedule a demo today to learn more about how 15Five can help.