Successful workplace wellness programs are often “easier said than done.” The current wisdom outlined by the Society for Human Resource Management argues that “a well-executed program can reduce health care costs, augment productivity, and increase employee retention, providing further support for the correlation between personal health and job satisfaction.”

Traditional employer wellness programs focus on both preventable and chronic health risks. According to a recent 2021 survey from The U.S. Department of Labor, from 2019 to 2021 the percentage of employees working “on location” went from 82 percent to 68 percent. How then can an employer create a “workplace” wellness program when their labor pool does not operate in the workplace? While the established models and methods will continue to promote the desired outcomes, the workforce is telling employers that wellness priorities need to change to support the well-being of the remote worker. Wellness programs will need to be flexible and personalized, while still promoting a culture of community. Again, easier said than done but here are strategies to consider. 

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Support Wellness Flexibility

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Working from home not only disrupts the traditional thinking around location, but also the conventional workday. Flexible work schedules allow employees to manage and own their time for the company and address their health needs at an elevated level. Choosing between a doctor appointment, exercise, or preparing a healthy meal can be difficult after a “long day at the office.” Promoting and rewarding wellness breaks throughout the day should be integrated into wellness programs. This strategy addresses the gaps in previous models by encouraging that wellness be integrated into the workday, rather than outside the hours of 9:00-5:00. Calls and remote works sessions can be more productive when employees come to the table with a positive well-being. 

Reward Personalized Wellness

Because all employees are not the same, it follows that all remote workers are not the same. Employers can support personalized wellness goals through personalized wellness plans. Coworkers who work in different countries, climates, and cultures could have vastly different approaches to their personal wellness and well-being. Shifting wellness programs to focus on coaching and connecting can help all employees bring their best selves to the company. Running a mini-marathon should be encouraged by employers in the same way as reducing A1C levels by 2 percent. 

Establish Community Wellness

Wellness rewards systems work, in general; however, if companies wish to establish a wellness community, rewards only go so far. Healthy competition can be a powerful tool in engaging a dispersed workforce. Step counting competitions are a fantastic way to start. To fully build a community of wellness, companies will need to establish a different culture in this remote world. What would it look like if a monthly staff meeting were held “on the move” and employees were encouraged to take the call while doing some low-impact exercise? What if, at the start of every meeting, there was a “wellness moment” written by an employee? Organizations should promote a wellness community as an integral core value, leading the way for organic accountability and directly impacting all the same benefits of more traditional HR wellness programs. 

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Society for Human Resource Management. (2019, September 11). Designing and Managing Wellness Programs. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Labor. (2022, June 23). American Time Use Survey – 2021 Results. Retrieved from bls.gove: