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5 Virtual Wellness Program Ideas to Engage Your Remote Employees

Posted by Seraine Page on Mon, May, 18, 2020

Virtual Wellness Program Are you ready to up the ante on your virtual wellness program ideas?

If your company is like most businesses, your leadership team likely is getting creative with how to engage remote employees. For some companies that includes incorporating virtual team building activities or more beneficial mental health wellness perks.

It’s also a great opportunity to increase awareness about any current wellness benefits your company has and extending those more freely to remote workers.

Remote employees tend to be the most "out of the loop," but with remote work becoming the new normal, it's time to invite them back in.

Below, we dive into how to incorporate virtual wellness program ideas that are refreshing and exciting for employees both in-house and outside your workplace.

Here are some ways to get creative with your virtual wellness program ideas:

1. Start a Healthy Well-Being Hub

Make it easy for your remote team to access healthy resources at any time. Below, you’ll find ideas for digital resources that you can easily pop on a Slack channel or in a Google Drive to share with your team.

A few ways to build up your healthy library:

  • Gather a roundup of exercise videos or sites - Ask employees to submit their favorite go-to resources like wellness and fitness sites and nutritional content. Break it down by categories, too, like Facebook pages, Instagram channels, Pinterest boards, and websites. This makes it easy for employees to implement the content from the channels they use the most.
  • Offer subscriptions - Consider making it even easier for them to maintain their health and fitness at home. Subscribe your team to online programs like Beachbody on Demand or OpenFit. This is perfect for both remote employees and those employees who travel a lot for work to easily stream workouts.
  • Build an online cookbook of healthy recipes - Ask for submissions and/or photos from employees of meals that are always on their home menu. Break it down by breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Meals that are 30 minutes or less — or can be done in crock pots or Instapots — are ideal recipe candidates.
  • Create a lift-me-up file - Develop a fun or stress-free forum for employees to submit fun photos anyone can browse when they need a quick break. Slack channels for cute animals, ridiculous things kids say, hobby discussions, and clean jokes can offer a breath of fresh air during stressful work weeks.

Make it easy: As you see health and wellness articles you love, save them to a file for later use for newsletters or weekly health tips you email your team.

2. Host Virtual Lunch and Learns

A lunch and learn is a presentation or training session offered to employees in a laid-back style. Styles and formats vary, but it generally includes coverage of a single topic during a lunch hour. Employers can choose from an array of topics from personal financial wellness to stress management techniques that can be taught by local experts or even someone in your company’s benefits department.

Tips for hosting lunch and learns virtually:

  • Use a Zoom room - Create a Zoom call for your internal lunch & learn events to make it easy for remote team members to join in.
  • Make it a fun break - Ask them to take a break and bring their lunch so it’s like they’re really there. Plan virtual icebreakers to engage everyone.
  • Ask about expertise - If you have a remote employee who could host a lunch and learn, stream them in for the in-office employees. For example, if someone is a life coach or fitness trainer on the side, see if they’d be willing to share their knowledge.
  • Hit record - Consider recording lunch and learns and adding them to your Healthy Well-Being Hub.

Make it easy: If your entire team is still working from home, you can host lunch and learn events with those who are interested. Consider asking local experts like psychologists or personal trainers, for example, to teach content that can help employees stay healthy through the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Remind Workers of Gym Memberships

Staying physically fit can be a challenge for anyone who works at home. There’s more sitting, plus a fridge that’s like a 24/7 buffet sitting in the next room. Encourage remote employees to take care of their physical health by working out. Weekly strength training and cardio workouts are recommended for adults by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Here’s how to get remote employees to move more and sit less:

  • Look into your company’s gym membership perks - If your office works with a chain, it should be fairly easy to offer remote employees memberships or discounts as well.
  • Offer a fitness stipend - If there isn’t a gym nearby that is a part of your program, consider offering a stipend to pay for a local gym or online membership of your employee’s choice.
  • Encourage workout partnerships - While fitness styles are a personal preference, your remote workers may want to partner up with other employees for accountability. Send out a list of workout apps like Sworkit Fitness & Workout app. Encourage individuals to post to an exercise Slack channel to take on fitness challenges together.

Make it easy: Send out a list of wellness benefits to your employees once a quarter. It will remind them to use their hard-earned employee perks. If you consistently see a perk go unused — like gym memberships — consider cancelling it and saving the money for another team wellness benefit.

4. Create Your Own Fitness Challenges and Classes

Streaming workouts and fitness classes is easy to do as long as your team members have a strong WiFi connection. The best challenges are the ones that depend on self-reporting because they’re easy to do and require little effort on the employer’s behalf.

How to create engaging fitness challenges:

  • Make it easy on yourself and your team - Have all reporting online and remote employees can join in on any team challenges you host.
  • Encourage togetherness - Have encourage employees go on walks together or work out together virtually for exercise challenges. Walking meetings are a perfect time to get steps in while being productive.
  • Share results and celebrate - Ask team members to join Zoom meetings to go over results or announce winners so everyone can celebrate together.
  • Extend your on-site offerings - If you’re hosting a meditation or yoga class on-site, see if the instructor minds if you stream to virtual employees as well so they feel included.
  • Be goofy - Switch off who “leads” a fitness class on a Zoom call. Consider having contests for craziest workout t-shirt or most ridiculous (yet fun) workout. Need an example? See who can host the best Jane Fonda-style or other 60s-style workout. Just remember that sweating and laughing at the same time burns extra calories!

Make it easy: Ask your team what would inspire them to participate. If they have ideas for videos, challenges, or classes, ask them to send them to you so you can compile a catalog. Check out our 6 Easy Fitness and Wellness Challenges for Any Workplace.

5. Host Good-for-the-Soul Meetings

When employees are working outside the office, they still want to feel like part of the team. That doesn’t mean unnecessary meetings should be a requirement, but it also doesn’t mean they should miss out on fun ones, either. Emotional connections can keep employees engaged, a must for employee satisfaction on all fronts, but especially for remote workers. 

Consider hosting feel-good meetings like:

  • Create a coffee shop vibe - Team members should schedule virtual one-on-one coffee or water cooler breaks to talk about things other than work. This requires an intentional disconnect from work while also allowing colleagues to get to know one another.
  • Allow employees to show off their playful sides - Schedule a version of show and tell. Ask employees to share their hobby or show off their office or a favorite place in their home. Anything that can help workers feel more connected.
  • Consider virtual “happy hour” or “campfire” meetings - If you can’t all gather for drinks in-person, consider hosting a Friday afternoon gathering online where virtual employees have a chance to get to relax together. Other ideas might include a book club gathering, game night (think Charades), or “visit” a museum or art gallery while screen sharing.

Make it easy: Get in touch with your employees to see what they would like to see implemented into team meetings or playful gatherings. Make an anonymous survey on a channel like SurveyMonkey to get honest feedback.

Get Creative With Your Virtual Wellness Program Ideas

You can create plenty of virtual team building activities through your virtual wellness program ideas.

From virtual happy hours to intriguing lunch and learn events, you have the power to invite your remote employees into your workplace wellness culture however you wish.

Remember, the more fun your wellness programs are, the more engaged your employees will be. Plus, remote employees who feel a part of the team will be more likely to stay engaged, informed, and be better team players.

Ready to make remote work easier on your whole staff? Check out our newest download: The Ultimate Resource Guide for Remote Teamwork & Wellness Success.

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Topics: Wellness at Work

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