There's a strong business case for introducing wellness initiatives at work. The results from Health Enhancement Research Organization's survey Exploring the Value Proposition for Workplace Health found that over 90% of business leaders observe a link between wellness programs and higher employee performance, higher productivity, and lower turnover. The survey also found that investing in a wellness initiative not only promotes a happier and more collaborative work environment, but it also can reduce overall healthcare costs incurred by a company.
Turns out, most companies understand this, or at least have begun to since that survey was completed. In fact, according to the RAND Corporation, more than 80% of companies in the United States with more than 50 employees offer a wide range of wellness benefits, such as gym subsidies, nutrition education, and vaccination clinics. When people are on the job hunt, these benefits are often a huge draw.
But what does a well-executed wellness initiative look like? InHerSight asks women every day.
Our company utilizes ratings from women employees to generate overall scores for companies based on 16 metrics --wellness included. Here are four companies that women say are the gold standard for wellness, and some of the coolest perks they offer to their employees.
1. lululemon athletica (4.8 stars)
If you expect that lululemon employees are constantly taking yoga and spin classes together outside of work, you're right. But did you know that the company actually reimburses its employees for a certain number of fitness classes they take per week and offers them numerous opportunities to engage in free fitness activities?
This reimbursement policy is just one of the many reasons lululemon is ranked so highly in terms of wellness and is known for having a positive work environment. The company genuinely values its employees and demonstrates its commitment to overall mind/body wellness by offering three to six months of paid maternity leave, health and dental insurance, performance bonuses, generous discounts on merchandise, a 401(k) savings plan, professional training, and paid time off. All of these perks contribute to high employee retention and satisfaction.
In a Business Insider interview, one former store associate said, "Lululemon was always working to make sure we bonded. The company would sanction hikes, conferences, fitness classes. The people I worked with were nice and we got close." She also recalls a relaxed group interview and being provided with inspirational, goal-oriented books on her first day of work.
2. Zappos (4.7 stars)
Ikigai is a Japanese word that refers to one's purpose for living--what fuels them to get up in the morning. Zappos is committed to helping its employees find their ikigai and encourages them to do so on a daily basis. Employees are offered unlimited access to online classes through "Zappos University"; one-on-ones with Zappos life coaches and shadow sessions in various departments throughout the company; and designing their work schedules to fit their lifestyle.
Bhawna Provenzano, the leader of Zappos' benefits and wellness programs, says, "Our employees' health and well-being is our No. 1 commitment. We want to offer a great experience and remove as many barriers as we can to treatments." Since 2011, Provenzano has helped Zappos implement incredible wellness initiatives that go far beyond the standard ones we've all heard before (an on-site gym, access to healthy food, health insurance). For example, Zappos helps cover many nontraditional medical costs like bariatric surgery, infertility treatments, and weight loss. It also hosts regular seminars on stress management and wellness, and has top-quality breast pumps for new mothers throughout its offices.
Wellness is about body and mind
For our Ask a Recruiter series, we asked a HR consultant Amy Robertson to tell us about some innovative approaches she's seen companies taking to mental health. This is what she said:
- Time off that really means time off. No expectation of checking emails on vacation or working while you are not feeling well. It's meant to recharge you for your next professional sprint.
- On-site health clinics that include individual and family counseling (not just treatment for a common cold or strep throat).
- Workplaces that emphasize autonomy and asynchronous communication. This will honor each person's ability to work in a way that's best for them and enable the most success.
- Companies who value and encourage activities outside work. For example, encourage hobbies and celebrate them within the workplace by sponsoring get-togethers on the topic. Employees can share more of what makes them interesting and, in turn, create a stronger fabric of community within the workplace.
- Well-being programs that offer classes within the workplace on stress management, time management, and mindfulness. These provide a holistic view of wellness and coping techniques to avoid triggers for anxiety and depression.
3. LinkedIn (4.7 stars)
LinkedIn's wellness initiatives follow what it calls the "Six Tenets of Wellness": thoughts, breathing, nutrition, movement, rest, and hydration. All of the benefits provided to LinkedIn employees fulfill the needs of one of these tenets. For example, the company provides special devices used to track breathing patterns of employees to encourage mindfulness (breathing), makes standing desks available in its office spaces and promotes walking meetings (movement), and includes a wide assortment of healthy foods and beverages in break rooms and cafeterias (nutrition and hydration).
What's even more impressive is LinkedIn's commitment to mental health. One Friday every month, there's a companywide InDay (the "In" stands for "investment") where employees can take a break from the stress of work and focus on themselves, perhaps choosing to foster a passion of their own.
If employees struggle with mental illness or are simply going through a tough time, they are encouraged to make use of the free LinkedIn Employee Assistance Program, which provides a 24/7 counseling service that is totally confidential. By balancing the value of physical health with the value of mental health, LinkedIn's practices exemplify the definition of wellness. The company shows genuine interest in its employees' lives outside of the workplace and encourages them to engage with their community.
4. Malouf (4.7 stars)
Imagine getting your hair or nails done at work...for free. Malouf makes this dream a reality; once per month, every employee has the opportunity to visit its on-site salon. This is part of its larger wellness initiative, which has been so highly praised that Glassdoor ranked them No. 8 on its list of Best Places To Work. Other benefits to Malouf's program include free healthy lunches every day, comprehensive insurance for employees and their families with fully paid premiums, fitness classes, and well-designed facilities (from the fitness center to the actual office space) to ensure optimal comfort at work.
Malouf's wellness initiatives aim to uphold eight key principles in its employees: "own it, act with integrity, work to win, be kind, be better every day, do more with less, make it fun, and think big picture." These are definitely words of wisdom when it comes to fostering a workplace that is both productive and genuinely loved by its employees.
Explore our list: The 20 Best Companies for Wellness Initiatives