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10 Employee Wellness Program Ideas To Attract and Retain Top Talent

Steve Jobs once said that he was used to going to “exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” He knew that employee wellbeing was crucial for top talent retention.

According to research conducted in 2020 by MERCER, the world's largest outsourced asset manager, 70% of employees are dissatisfied with future career opportunities.

The same research found that only 22% of companies offer personalized wellbeing programs, which provide a competitive advantage for companies that decide to create premium wellness programs.

I've been working with top talent to collaborate on different projects that provided insight into what keeps them performing at their best and living a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. I figured that a higher purpose and emotional fulfillment play a significant role in staying or leaving a company.  

The wellness challenges created by a post-COVID-19 world are everywhere and provide an opportunity for companies to develop a workplace wellness program to benefit physical health and team building. Companies that don't have a killer corporate wellness program in place are unable to keep top talent. 

But don't panic! Keep reading, and I'll make things easy for you with ten original ideas that will delight your dream team and impact workplace health.

I'm not going to cover the usual stuff: wearable fitness challenges such as Fitbit, healthy eating, walking meetings, gift cards, and book clubs.

Also, I'll assume the office already has a water cooler, a break room, and provides flu shots every year. You don't need to hear about that.

Let's get started.

List Of Employee Wellness Program Ideas

1. Vacation Planning Services

Screenshot of Ciao Bambino's Family
Employers can set up exciting travel opportunities for employees and their families.

Offer vacations that make your top talent promise you they’re never coming back. For example, Ciao Bambino is a startup that offers vacation planning services for premium family travel experiences.

Top companies offer unlimited paid time off. Go one step further and also provide a vacation planning service. Your talent wants to spend their vacation between the Caribbean islands and Norway to go surfing and see the aurora borealis? No problem. 

They'll be in love with you when they get back.

2. Unlimited Event Attendance Policy 

Screenshot of DevOps Seminars and events
Seminars and events provide amazing opportunities for professional development, networking, and even just making your high-performance team members incredibly happy.

Do you have people on your team that are eager to participate in world-class events related to your business? What about Comic-Con fans or fans of TED Talks?

Grant your top talent access to as many international events as they wish to attend with unlimited free event passports.

3. Pet Perks

Many people nowadays have pets — I have a dog and a cat that are part of the family. Let's face it; pets are a big deal to many people, with the industry making millions by meeting pet owners' expectations.

Why not offer complete care for the pets of your team members, including grooming and health insurance? 

Taking care of pets also provides health benefits for your top talent, giving them one less thing to stress about.

4. Digital Wellness

You want your team to be as productive and focused as possible, so there's no room for tech gadgets and phones to become a source of stress and distraction.

Digital wellness coaching sessions are the perfect tool for helping people achieve personalized solutions that promote a tech-life balance.

They help keep mental health under control, as well as help team members avoid physical health issues that can be attributed to digital technologies, such as eye strain or poor posture.

5. New Job Rotation Opportunities

employee wellness program ideas job rotation infographic
Forget your old process for job rotation. You’ll have to bring it to a new level to meet your top talent’s expectations.

Offer top talent the opportunity to take a crash course with top-notch professionals in the area of their choice. After they finish the course, assign a tutor, and offer them hands-on work hours in the new knowledge area.

6. Make Them Thought Leaders

Something special happens when you share your knowledge — you learn a lot. And top talent knows this.

Help your team members build careers as thought leaders or influencers in your industry or business space. Offer courses on how to speak in front of a camera, edit videos, or anything they need to perform better with online media.

When they shine, they're also conveying an image of success for your company.

7. Opportunities To Steer The Ship

employee wellness program ideas leading the meeting
Ahoy there, captain! Your top performers will love the idea of becoming the captain of the ship, even if it’s a part-time job. 

Even technical top performers expect to have an active voice in your company. Offer the real deal by letting them become part of the board of directors, even if it’s for a short while or for one meeting. They will appreciate the opportunity to share their opinions and thoughts. 

You'll be surprised by how much benefit this will bring to the company's strategic planning.

8. Improve Your Work From Home Experience

The experience of remote work can go from heaven to hell very quickly.

If you want your remote employees to perform at their best, you need to provide them with an optimal work environment.

That's why you should offer a remote work consultant to help your stellar team members with setting up their work environment. They can be responsible for finding that perfect standing desk, for example, with amazing ergonomics.

You can also offer online yoga classes, mindfulness sessions, and other wellness activities that contribute to employee health by lowering blood pressure and reducing burnout, for example.

Learn more about best practices for remote work here

9. Work Remotely From Anywhere

Screenshot of Nomad Stays
Companies like Nomad Stays are geared towards finding remote workers and digital nomads a place to work and travel from.

This idea is great for your fully remote workers and the digital nomads on your team.

Provide a working experience with scenic views. Set up exceptional accommodations in the mountains, by the sea, or near a tropical forest. Let them choose where they want to stay and for how long. 

You can also offer them the opportunity to exchange some of their working hours for working with a local environmental protection program of their choice.

It's a great way to get some physical activity and outside enrichment.

10. Time For Personal Projects

Photo of Google 111 W Java Dr location
Google was one of the first to create an initiative that allows employees to use twenty percent of their paid work time to pursue personal projects. Photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash.

It doesn't matter how hard you try. Your top talent will get bored eventually and seek new and exciting stuff to do. But, as the saying goes, "If you can't beat them, join them."

Offer time to start a new project or develop a business plan they might like to pursue in the future. Your team will be grateful and learn valuable soft and hard skills that will only add to their performance.

For example, this might be healthy food cooking classes to keep them away from UberEats or SnackNation.

Of course, you can combine these simple but powerful wellness initiatives to boost employee engagement in your company to sky-high levels. 

Final Thoughts

Remember that wellness programs are ineffective without a basic package that includes top-paying salaries, healthcare coverage, gym memberships, healthy snacks, and other perks. Additionally, getting to know your team members a bit better goes a longer way than you would think.

Don't even think about cutting them from your list.

Remember to dare to create the unusual!

Further resources:

For more on employee wellness, check out expert Anthony Clay's insightful presentation from People Managing People's Remote Work Summit.

By Sergio Tschá

Leader, mentor, writer and coach with a background in computer science. Advocate of inclusion, diversity, and cultural awareness in the workplace and the humane tech movement.

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