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The workplace is an important setting for supporting health and wellness.

Workers typically spend a third of their day at work, five days a week. Providing opportunities for people to be healthy while working can have substantial effects on employee health and wellness. Comprehensive wellness initiatives that foster a culture of health and support employees’ physical, emotional, and social well-being benefit employees and employers in many ways.

Woman in a yoga pose participating in a workplace wellness program

How employee wellness affects you:

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Workplace Wellness Initiative

Here are some ideas to incorporate wellness into the workplace:

  • Online health risk assessments
  • Screenings
  • Vaccination clinics (e.g., flu)
  • Promoting the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to support employees’ mental health and well-being
  • Seminars/workshops on health and wellness topics
  • Health fairs
  • Employee interest surveys
  • Lunchtime exercise classes or walking groups
  • Challenges – physical activity and/or weight loss/management
  • Organizing teams for a 5K run/walk
  • Environmental supports, such as signs encouraging employees to take the stairs rather than the elevator and making stairwells more appealing for use (consider music, lighting, cleanliness, and safety)
  • Active meetings (e.g., walking, stretch breaks)
  • Healthy food options at meetings, trainings, and conferences, as well as in workplace cafeterias, snack bars, and vending machines
  • Workplace policies that promote and support employees’ health and well-being (e.g., modifying existing dress code policies to allow employees to wear activewear at work while engaged in physical activity)

When you help employees:

You’ll notice:

  • When you help employees:

    Develop healthier habits

    You’ll notice:

    Reduced absenteeism

  • When you help employees:

    Maintain a healthy weight

    You’ll notice:

    Increased productivity

  • When you help employees:

    Improve physical fitness

    You’ll notice:

    Lower rates of injury

  • When you help employees:

    Enhance energy and mood

    You’ll notice:

    Improved relations and morale

  • When you help employees:

    Reduce stress and anxiety

    You’ll notice:

    Improved focus

Organization and planning

Establishing a wellness committee is an important step toward creating an effective workplace wellness initiative, because wellness committees are essential to communicating with, motivating, and supporting other employees in their wellness goals.

Wellness committees are teams of employees who meet formally and have identified objectives, goals, and strategies to encourage healthy behaviors at the workplace and establish health-friendly work environments.

A designated leader and a supporting group of employees plan and organize workplace wellness initiatives. Wellness leaders, in collaboration with their organization’s management, departments, and employees, are responsible for:

  • Creating and coordinating workplace wellness plans and activities
  • Overseeing the development and maintenance of employee wellness committees
  • Providing ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of initiatives and directing employees to wellness resources

Find more information and resources on wellness leaders and wellness committees on pages 6–7 of the DHR Workplace Wellness Toolkit.

Assessing workplace health is an important step in planning a workplace wellness initiative. Workplace health assessments collect information on an individual and organizational level to determine what workplace factors influence employee health and wellness, and to identify potential opportunities to improve employee health and wellness.

Every workplace has a unique mix of employees with different wellness-related needs and interests, as well as different capacities to meet them. When creating wellness initiatives, employers must decide which workplace health activities, events, and resources are most valuable and effective for their employees. It is important to assess what kinds of wellness activities employees are interested in and willing to do, whether employers are meeting employee needs and interests, and how effective wellness initiatives are over time at improving outcomes related to employee health and wellness.

Find more information and resources on conducting needs assessments and quality monitoring on pages 8–10 of the DHR Workplace Wellness Toolkit.

Employers must ensure that all employees have equitable access to the same wellness opportunities and support in the workplace, regardless of race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other category protected by applicable state and/or federal law.

Health equity in workplace wellness means ensuring that every person has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing the obstacles people face in achieving their full health potential due to their social position or other socially determined circumstances. It is important for all workplace wellness initiatives to be equitable.

Find more information and resources on creating equitable and accessible workplace wellness initiatives on pages 11–12 of the DHR Workplace Wellness Toolkit.

Health and wellness

Supporting physical activity in the workplace benefits employers and employees alike, because employees who are more physically active make for a healthier, more productive workforce. All workplaces, regardless of size, resources, and setting, can provide physical activity opportunities for their employees.

Maintaining an active lifestyle is one of the most important things an individual can do to support their physical and mental health. Physical activity offers benefits for people of all ages, by:

  • Improving aerobic and muscular fitness
  • Reducing risk of high blood pressure and stroke
  • Reducing risk of depression
  • Improving attention and cognitive function

Physical activity also supports healthy aging by extending years of active life and improving sleep, balance, joint mobility, and more.

Finally, individuals who engage in the recommended levels of physical activity have a lower risk of premature death and chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. More information about the many benefits of regularly engaging in physical activity is available here.

Find more information and resources on incorporating physical activity into the workplace on pages 16–18 of the DHR Workplace Wellness Toolkit.

When healthy food and beverage options are not available, individuals often settle for options that are low in nutritional value and high in calories. Ensuring that healthy food options are easily available to employees is an essential component of workplace wellness. Employers should strive to offer healthy food and beverage options in all settings, including cafeterias, snack bars, and vending machines, as well as during meetings, training sessions, and conferences. Maintaining a healthy diet is essential to staying healthy throughout one’s life. Individuals with healthy eating patterns have a lower risk for chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. For those already living with a chronic disease, proper nutrition can help them manage their condition. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides advice on good dietary habits to promote health and prevent disease, including recipes and tips for grocery shopping and menu planning.

Find more information and resources on promoting healthy eating on pages 19–21 of the DHR Workplace Wellness Toolkit.

Mental health, which reflects a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being, is an important element of employee health and well-being. Many people struggle with mental health challenges, such as anxiety and depression. The workplace can also be a significant source of stress. In addition to affecting employees’ overall wellness, mental health challenges can lead to lower productivity and engagement with work, poor communication, and reduced physical and cognitive functioning. Sleep quality also plays a large role in our emotional and mental health. Employers can support their employees’ mental health and wellness by offering resources that help identify and treat mental health issues, and by sharing information about stress-management tactics and good sleep habits.

Find more information and resources on supporting mental health and wellness on pages 23–28 of the DHR Workplace Wellness Toolkit.

Breastfeeding provides short -and long-term health benefits to mothers and infants. It helps mothers recover from pregnancy faster and lowers the risk of certain health conditions, such as maternal postpartum depression and Type 2 diabetes. For infants, it provides protection against infection, including ear and respiratory infections and asthma. Lactation support in the workplace helps breastfeeding employees reduce their risk — and their baby’s risk — of health issues. It also decreases absenteeism and improves productivity at work.

Find more information and resources on providing lactation support in the workplace on pages 31–32 of the DHR Workplace Wellness Toolkit.

Promote workplace wellness with these helpful toolkits.

DHR Workplace Wellness Toolkit

DHR Workplace Wellness Toolkit

This toolkit is intended to assist State of Delaware Executive Branch agencies with implementing the State’s workplace wellness policy, but it can be used by any employer!

This toolkit includes:

Best practices for employers, tips, tools, and shareable resources, guides on organizing and planning workplace wellness initiatives, wellness leaders and committees, needs assessment and quality monitoring, equity and accessibility, how to promote employee benefits, National Health Observances.

Topics covered:

Physical activity, healthy eating, mental health and wellness, and lactation support, weight management, alcohol and substance abuse, financial wellness, tobacco use, occupational health and safety, and chronic condition prevention and management.

This toolkit was developed jointly by the State of Delaware’s Department of Human Resources, Statewide Benefits Office and the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention Program.

Workplace Wellness Toolkit
Workplace Wellness Promotional Resources

Workplace Wellness Promotional Resources

This toolkit offers communication tools to promote health and wellness in the workplace, including motivational posters, monthly email templates, and goal-setting calendars.

The toolkit includes:

  • Motivational posters
  • Monthly email templates
  • Goal-setting calendars
Workplace Wellness Promotional Resources

CDC resources: