There’s a reason that so many large companies are investing heavily in workplace wellness. Happy, well employees work more productively, take less sick leave and are more engaged with their role and the company. Well being programs can sometimes seem expensive and difficult to manage and it’s true that many larger companies offer schemes like office gyms (Nike) or childcare (Google); but there are ways to create a well being culture with a more creative approach to resources.

Walking meetings

If there are 2 or 3 of you in a meeting then consider holding it on a walk rather than in a meeting room. Walking meetings are particularly great for creative discussions and idea generation as well as benefiting your mental and physical well being through natural light and movement.

Encourage physical activity

OK, so an office gym may not be on the cards, but there are other ways to encourage physical activity.

  • Find a local gym willing to offer your employees a discount on membership
  • Set up a group fitness challenge through an app like Fitbit, Stridekick or My Virtual Mission (the latter tracks a really wide range of activities so it’s great if you have differently abled people in your team)
  • Sign up for a charity event and build a team from the office
  • Create an office team for a sport like football, netball or hockey and join a local league
  • Start a breakfast or lunchtime running club
  • Subsidise an exercise class in the office

Create a relaxation or meditation space

A good number of your employees are probably already meditating or trying to meditate, but feel unable to do so at work. Providing a dedicated space gives people permission to meditate as well as the time and space they need. A meditation space should be:

  • Uncluttered (there shouldn’t be any items from the office or unrequired furniture in this room)
  • Clean
  • As quiet as possible
  • As beautiful as possible

Even if you can’t set aside a room, a small breakout area in an open plan office can offer your team a space to get away from their desk/digital devices and read, contemplate or rest for a short time.

Contributing to society

I used to work in an office where we would spend a day a year volunteering on local social projects and it always made me feel good. Building paths through a nature reserve was a highlight – a great combination of being outside, working with our hands and the comradery of team effort. The research shows that feeling connected to society and helping others really boosts our well being, so devoting one day a year could be a wise investment.

Bring your dog to work

In my first day of work experience at a swanky London PR agency, I was surprised to see dogs walking around the office, but studies show there are real benefits. Dogs act as a social lubricant between humans and petting a dog reduces stress. Just the very fact of having a dog in the office makes it feel more relaxed and less pressured, not to mention making our furry friends less lonely. You do need to be mindful of people’s allergies and phobias and that the dogs themselves are suited to be being around so many people, so check that out before you give the greenlight. It can also help to create a system for when people bring their dogs in. Too many dogs can be difficult to manage, so you may want to create a rota for say, one dog per day, so everyone gets a turn.

Create a culture of self-compassion

Needless to say, your employees will only use a relaxation space, practice self-care and get involved in activities if the leadership team are leading the way. My previous boss used to go running on a lunchtime with the team and it definitely helped to get people involved in using their lunch hour for self-care. Leading by example is the best way to change the wellness culture in the office and upskilling senior people with mindfulness and compassion practices can be an extremely useful place to start.