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How to Improve Staff Well-Being: 24 Ideas for Success

Cassandra Rose, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

While well-being and well­ness pro­grams have gained noto­ri­ety in the cor­po­rate are­na over the last decade, 2020 and the work-from-home era turned well­ness and well-being ben­e­fits from ​“nice bonus­es” to ​“must-haves.”

Today’s employ­ees are going through unprece­dent­ed hard­ships. For instance, work­ing par­ents are jug­gling their careers with nav­i­gat­ing remote learn­ing with their chil­dren. Old­er work­ers are work­ing past retire­ment age because of how Wall Street’s volatil­i­ty impact­ed their retire­ment sav­ings. Young work­ers are start­ing careers, iso­lat­ed from friends, fam­i­ly and col­leagues — and these are just a few of the new chal­lenges fac­ing today’s employees.

As a result, the demand and need to invest in men­tal health, well-being and well­ness have nev­er been more evi­dent. It shouldn’t be a bonus — it should be a tool that com­pa­nies offer as respon­si­ble employ­ers who take care of their people.

How­ev­er, in a post-pan­dem­ic real­i­ty, HR lead­ers have to think beyond the lim­it­ed well­ness pro­grams of the past.

Well-being pro­grams must acknowl­edge the state of the world and the vary­ing needs of peo­ple. In oth­er words, well-being can’t be a one-size-fits-all solu­tion. Instead, well-being pro­grams have to con­sid­er that total well­ness looks dif­fer­ent for dif­fer­ent people.

What Is Well-Being and Why It Matters

By def­i­n­i­tion, well-being is a broad term relat­ed to a person’s phys­i­cal, men­tal, emo­tion­al and finan­cial health. When dis­cussing well-being in the work­place, one also has to take into account how a person’s job affects their over­all health and happiness.

It’s a com­pli­cat­ed sub­ject that merges phys­i­cal health, men­tal health, cog­ni­tion and mood, and sense of pur­pose into one.

In short, a person’s well-being is a holis­tic, 365-degree view of an individual’s cur­rent state of existence.

As pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned, well­ness means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple because peo­ples’ inher­ent strug­gles vary based on their life circumstances.

For exam­ple, a work­ing parent’s qual­i­ty of life might be improved with well­ness ben­e­fits like child­care, so they don’t have to wor­ry about who’s watch­ing their kids dur­ing work. Plus, a free sub­scrip­tion to Head­space (the med­i­ta­tion app) would be a great reminder to take time for them­selves. A sub­scrip­tion to a food deliv­ery ser­vice would be nice, too.

An indi­vid­ual work­er who lives with three room­mates might pre­fer a month­ly Star­bucks bud­get instead of child­care, so they can work out­side their cramped home. Plus, they might pre­fer Talk Space, the online ther­a­py solu­tion, instead of an app focused on mind­ful­ness. They want the food deliv­ery ser­vice sub­scrip­tion, though, because their food bud­get has been a lit­tle tight late­ly since they’ve been try­ing to pay off their stu­dent loans.

Obvi­ous­ly, these exam­ples are pure­ly hypo­thet­i­cal, but it’s easy to see how dif­fer­ent life cir­cum­stances impact life strug­gles and well­ness desires. To make things a bit more tan­gi­ble for HR pro­fes­sion­als, Gallup released a list of the five ele­ments that com­prise a person’s well-being. They are:

  • Career: Is the per­son hap­py with their job?
  • Phys­i­cal: Does the per­son have enough health and ener­gy, both emo­tion­al­ly and phys­i­cal­ly, to do every­thing they need and want to do every day? (In Gallup’s list, phys­i­cal health also encom­pass­es men­tal health.)
  • Com­mu­ni­ty: Does the per­son like where they live and work? Do they feel safe and feel a sense of pride in their community?
  • Finan­cial: Does the person’s eco­nom­ic life allow them to live and exist with­out finan­cial stress?
  • Social: Does the per­son have sup­port­ive rela­tion­ships in their lives?

When work­ing to improve employ­ee well-being, a com­pa­ny should focus on offer­ing lifestyle ben­e­fits that cater to these five areas.

24 Ways to Improve Employee Well-Being

These 24 strate­gies are some of the ways com­pa­nies are using this infor­ma­tion to cre­ate well­ness pro­grams that incor­po­rate these five elements.


1. Improve the Office Space

Improv­ing the phys­i­cal office is a straight­for­ward way some super­vi­sors enrich employ­ee well-being. Things like adding nat­ur­al light, get­ting rid of cubi­cles and pro­vid­ing com­fort­able desk chairs are sim­ple ways to boost morale.

Since the office space has moved remote for many peo­ple, CEOs are find­ing ways to make the home office expe­ri­ence bet­ter. Some are doing this via sched­uled hang­outs to check in with their employ­ees and through pos­i­tive vir­tu­al meet­ings. The real­i­ty is that part of improv­ing the office lies in improv­ing the office culture.

2. Allow Flexible Work Arrangements

Flex­i­ble work arrange­ments are prov­ing to be a high-pri­or­i­ty desire for today’s work­ers. From pro­vid­ing a remote option to allow­ing flex­i­ble hours, there’s no short­age of oppor­tu­ni­ties to allow for more flex­i­ble work arrangements.

3. Provide Development Opportunities

Com­pa­nies pro­vide class­es, tuition reim­burse­ment, men­tor­ship pro­grams, work sem­i­nars and more to ensure their employ­ees have enough on-the-job devel­op­ment to feel fulfilled.

4. Have a Clear Growth Path

Employ­ees who know they can grow with their com­pa­ny feel a stronger sense of job secu­ri­ty and career sat­is­fac­tion. Com­pa­nies who want to improve employ­ee well-being should find ways to show their peo­ple they have plen­ty of room to grow their careers in their cur­rent company.

5. Offer Plenty of Paid Time Off

76% of today’s employ­ees expe­ri­ence burnout occa­sion­al­ly. Burnout con­tributes to a whole host of phys­i­cal and men­tal health prob­lems. That’s why an increas­ing num­ber of employ­ers are mak­ing sure their peo­ple are get­ting plen­ty of time off to relax and pur­sue their pas­sions out­side of work by offer­ing gen­er­ous PTO packages.


6. Provide Comprehensive Health Insurance

A crit­i­cal crux to well-being is phys­i­cal health. Pro­vid­ing com­pre­hen­sive health insur­ance is a way to increase the chances that employ­ees will see doc­tors and seek med­ical care when they need it. Health insur­ance plans should cov­er den­tal, vision and reg­u­lar men­tal health appoint­ments for max­i­mum employ­ee wellness.

7. Employee Wellness Initiatives

Com­pa­nies can help improve their team well­ness with in-house ini­tia­tives like dai­ly step chal­lenges, ​“ride your bike to work” days or com­pa­ny-wide dietary chal­lenges. Some orga­ni­za­tions go as far as incen­tiviz­ing these ini­tia­tives with rewards for com­plet­ing or win­ning challenges.

8. Offer Fitness Classes as a Fringe Benefit

On-site gyms or fit­ness class­es are anoth­er way com­pa­nies help improve their team’s health. By offer­ing on-site fit­ness options, employ­ees get access to equip­ment and class­es they might not oth­er­wise have access to. Alter­na­tive­ly, oth­er com­pa­nies pro­vide mem­ber­ships to gyms and pay for their employ­ees to take fit­ness class­es out­side of the office.

9. Provide Mindfulness Meditation

From 2018 to 2019, there was a 37% increase in stress-relat­ed absences across the Unit­ed States. Some com­pa­nies help their employ­ees bat­tle this stress by pro­vid­ing on-site med­i­ta­tion class­es, access to med­i­ta­tion sem­i­nars or dai­ly med­i­ta­tion time for their employ­ees. Oth­er com­pa­nies pro­vide their employ­ees with access to med­i­ta­tion with pre­mi­um med­i­ta­tion apps like Headspace.

10. Promote Mental Health Awareness

In addi­tion to pro­vid­ing insur­ance that pro­vides men­tal health cov­er­age and ther­a­py ses­sions, many com­pa­nies also work to increase men­tal health aware­ness. Through sem­i­nars, on-site ther­a­py or by cre­at­ing a cul­ture that encour­ages good men­tal health, orga­ni­za­tions are work­ing to improve well-being by nor­mal­iz­ing men­tal health issues and help­ing their employ­ees address them. Some even offer sub­scrip­tions to com­pa­nies such as Talk Space.

11. Encourage Employees to Take Sick Days

Com­pa­nies should encour­age employ­ees to stay home if they’re sick for the sake of the employ­ee and their cowork­ers. In today’s cul­ture, many hard work­ers don’t want to risk falling behind to take a sick day. How­ev­er, employ­ers can eas­i­ly cre­ate a health­i­er team sim­ply by cre­at­ing a cul­ture that encour­ages its peo­ple to stay home when they’re ill.

12. Offer Healthy Snacks

Offer­ing healthy snacks is a ter­rif­ic and straight­for­ward way many orga­ni­za­tions improve their employ­ees’ phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al well-being at work.


13. Consider Adding Volunteer Days

Employ­ees feel more ful­filled if their com­pa­ny has a greater pur­pose or allows them to pur­sue a greater mis­sion. This is espe­cial­ly true with mil­len­ni­als and Gen Z work­ers. Allow­ing employ­ees paid time to vol­un­teer helps cre­ate a sense of com­mu­ni­ty with­in the com­pa­ny and enables employ­ees to take greater pride in their work and their community.

14. Focus on Company Culture

There’s no short­age of ben­e­fits from pos­i­tive com­pa­ny cul­ture. From more engaged employ­ees to bet­ter num­bers, improv­ing com­pa­ny cul­ture is a ter­rif­ic way to increase a team’s over­all well-being.

15. Provide Tickets to Local Events

Some com­pa­nies pro­vide tick­ets to local events to help their employ­ees feel excit­ed about their local com­mu­ni­ties. It’s also a ter­rif­ic way to incen­tivize and ben­e­fit employ­ees in a mean­ing­ful way.

16. Encourage a Culture of Recognition

Peo­ple are much hap­pi­er and more ful­filled with reg­u­lar recog­ni­tion and feed­back. Cre­at­ing a cul­ture of recog­ni­tion through things like peer-to-peer recog­ni­tion and for­mal super­vi­sor recog­ni­tion is a proven tac­tic to cre­ate a pos­i­tive and engaged work community.


17. Offer Financial Planning Benefits

Finan­cial stress can result in severe anx­i­ety. That’s why many com­pa­nies choose to offer a host of finan­cial plan­ning ben­e­fits to their employ­ees. By offer­ing class­es, soft­ware, one-on-one coach­ing and more, com­pa­nies are find­ing cre­ative ways to ease their employ­ees’ finan­cial burdens.

18. Offer Peace-of-Mind Benefits

Part of finan­cial stress revolves around future plan­ning and ​“what-if” sce­nar­ios. Com­pa­nies offer peace-of-mind ben­e­fits like life insur­ance, retire­ment plans and dis­abil­i­ty insur­ance to help their employ­ees ease the extra stress of future planning.

19. Provide Fringe Lifestyle Benefits for Necessities

Anoth­er way that com­pa­nies can help ease finan­cial stress is by offer­ing fringe ben­e­fits to cov­er nec­es­sary ser­vices. This can include trans­porta­tion sup­port, food deliv­ery stipends, cov­er­ing care­tak­er costs and more.

20. Consider a Debt Repayment Program

80% of Amer­i­cans have some debt, and it can be a heavy bur­den. That’s why many com­pa­nies are offer­ing debt repay­ment pro­grams to their employ­ees. These pro­grams help repay a por­tion of employ­ee debt or help the employ­ees with edu­ca­tion on how to pay their debt off faster. This is espe­cial­ly pop­u­lar with stu­dent loan debt, as more com­pa­nies offer stu­dent loan debt help to win over mil­len­ni­al and Gen Z employees.


21. Encourage Meaningful Work Friendships

Peo­ple who have close friends at their jobs are sev­en times more like­ly to be pro­duc­tive, engaged and sat­is­fied at work. Work friends also con­tribute to over­all well-being by help­ing peo­ple ful­fill their social needs as human beings. Com­pa­nies can improve well-being by pro­vid­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for their employ­ees to build mean­ing­ful friend­ships with one another.

22. Offer Parental Leave

Many peo­ple feel forced to choose between mean­ing­ful careers and fam­i­lies. As a result, it leaves them lack­ing in one of the two areas of well-being (career or social). Busi­ness­es can help their peo­ple have rich fam­i­ly lives and thriv­ing careers by offer­ing gen­er­ous parental leave. Inno­v­a­tive com­pa­nies are also offer­ing paid fer­til­i­ty treat­ment and egg freez­ing to help their employ­ees inside and out­side of work.

23. Promote a Work-Life Balance

PTO and flex­i­ble work arrange­ments help pro­mote a good work-life bal­ance, and expert HR exec­u­tives know that pro­mot­ing a good work-life bal­ance can require a com­plete par­a­digm shift with­in the com­pa­ny. For exam­ple, the CEO could put their own hob­by on the com­pa­ny cal­en­dar, so their team knows they have the free­dom to fol­low their own pas­sions, too.

Enforc­ing hard stop times, dis­cour­ag­ing after-hour emails and invest­ing in employ­ees’ lives and inter­ests out­side of the office are just a few ways com­pa­nies can make sure their employ­ees have a healthy work-life balance.

24. Host Social Events for Employees

Social events are a ter­rif­ic way to bring employ­ees togeth­er and fos­ter a sense of com­mu­ni­ty with­in a com­pa­ny. They help employ­ees get to know each oth­er and their super­vi­sors as human beings out­side the office. It’s one com­mon tac­tic com­pa­nies use to strength­en bonds and con­tribute to their team’s need for mean­ing­ful social con­nec­tion. Just make sure remote employ­ees can par­tic­i­pate in social events as well, so they don’t feel left out.

Value Your People to Increase Your Value

As William H. Lever, founder of the Lever Broth­ers, once said, ​“If we leave the human fac­tor out of our busi­ness cal­cu­la­tions, we shall be wrong every time.”

These 24 ideas are only a few ways com­pa­nies can pri­or­i­tize their employ­ees’ well-being in this time of unprece­dent­ed obsta­cles and changes. Since well-being is such an indi­vid­u­al­ized thing, cus­tomized ben­e­fits just make sense.

Cus­tomized lifestyle ben­e­fits help com­pa­nies address their employ­ees’ well-being needs holis­ti­cal­ly and ensure all employ­ees have their well­ness needs met.

Fringe’s cus­tom ben­e­fits plat­form helps respon­si­ble employ­ers take care of their peo­ple by allow­ing employ­ees to choose lifestyle ben­e­fits that make them feel hap­py, healthy and whole.

Sched­ule a free demo today to see how Fringe can improve the well-being of your team.

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