Build a Healthy Work Culture Beyond

Wellness Programs

Support your team’s well-being with these systems tips.

When it concerns well-being, there are a few bumps in the road companies face in recognizing how much farther they can go. True well-being goes deeper than fads of work-sponsored perks: free meditation apps, a stocked fridge of prebiotic sodas, in-office IV drip therapy, and the occasional generic health seminar. These perks hold some value, so don’t throw them out just yet! They can also be too general and therefore neglect some of the needs across an entire team.

For example, La’Kita the founder of CoCreate Work – is a working mother living with multiple sclerosis. Her needs vary significantly from those of a person who isn’t a caretaker or doesn’t have a chronic illness.

A survey found that 51 percent of employees feel that existing company well-being benefits aren’t aligned with their actual needs, and 24 percent say their employer doesn’t effectively communicate the availability of programs. With underwhelming options, insufficient communication, and a lack of personalization, benefits go unused, signaling that companies must reevaluate their efforts.

Creating a genuine culture of well-being starts with solid workplace systems that evolve while your company does. It’s only successful when you build it with the entire employee experience in mind. We’re architects of this, so let’s work to build true well-being together.

Nurture autonomy with flexible work systems

When we have an “always-on” work mentality, it can soon become unsustainable. La’Kita affirms it leads to rampant stress, burnout, lower morale, and workplace absenteeism. As leaders, many of us have experienced this and know how tricky it can be to pause the grind.

Experiment with developing work systems that help your team find what makes the most sense for when, where, and how you work collectively and in individual roles. The goal is to allow people to feel in control of how they work and achieve meaningful productivity. You can hit the ground running, but you don’t have to run yourself into the ground. So, what else can you do? Here’s three recommendations to encourage autonomy:

  • Survey your team: Understanding their preferred working style and capacity is key. Gauge their interest in flexible hours, remote work, and preferred communication channels.
  • Design a pilot program: Start small with a specific team or department. This allows you to refine your approach before a full-scale rollout.
  • Develop clear guidelines: Establish expectations around communication, response times, and task deliverables.

Offer a generous, not unlimited, leave policy

Unlimited leave sounds generous, but La’Kita says those policies can leave leadership and employees confused and vulnerable to repercussions. Some people may feel pressure to be present all the time, answer work emails and calls while on vacation, or take fewer days off compared to companies with limited PTO guidelines. You also run the risk of unclear boundaries and operational tangles.

“There is often a fear that people will take advantage,” explains La’Kita, “but we have seen the total opposite.”

We’ve helped companies create custom leave policies, some including domestic violence leave and personal leave, being mindful of various potential circumstances. Striking a balance between generous and limited time off gives your team clarity and peace of mind so everyone can rest and tend to other dimensions of wellness.

In addition to a generous PTO policy, here are a few ways to offer more flexibility:

  • Summer Fridays or “soft Fridays” if a permanent four-day workweek isn’t currently feasible.
  • A quarterly personal day or an annual wellness week that doesn’t deduct from an employee’s allotted PTO.
  • Floating holidays so people can celebrate diverse cultural and religious occasions.
  • Sabbatical leave to reward and retain long-term talent.

Set up a monthly wellness budget for employees

It’s important to encourage your team to invest in their own well-being, and you can do so by allowing your team to make their own purchase choices. Think: gym memberships, fitness classes (pilates, HIIT), yoga mats and free weights, vitamins, ergonomic chairs, massage therapy, co-pays for doctor visits or alternative health practices (acupuncture), fitness trackers, and sleep aids (ear plugs, white noise machines). Establishing a wellness budget can be very new so here are some things to think of before jumping in:

  • Define your parameters: Determine what your company considers “wellness-related” that’s not already covered by your health insurance plans.
  • Assess budget allocation: When determining the appropriate budget amount, consider the size of your team and your desired impact on employee well-being.
  • Set up reminders and ensure transparency and privacy: Integrate budget reminders into your payroll system or use a communication platform to nudge employees to utilize the funds. Then, have each person electronically submit expense reports through a secure system that only collects necessary information (e.g., category, amount) for tracking and reimbursement.

Establish working agreements and keep the conversation open

To effectively bridge the gap between leaders and teams, work together to find solutions that won’t make anyone’s wellness an afterthought.

  • Host team discussions: Involve leaders and team members in discussions to advise your decision-making. You can facilitate these open conversations privately, in groups, or both to discuss work styles, communication preferences, and personal needs.
  • Develop working agreements: Based on your flexible work systems, policies, and budgets, create agreements that establish clear expectations around communication (response times, preferred channels), accountability (ownership of tasks, deadlines), and work-life boundaries. These official agreements will keep everyone on the same page.
  • Schedule quarterly check-ins: Make time for consistent pulse checks so everyone can share whether or not the systems work for them and address any areas of improvement.

And it doesn’t have to stop there. Our team can also help you develop a communication plan to keep your team informed about available resources and programs and work with you to adapt and improve them based on the ongoing feedback you collect.

Schedule a consultation with our team of workplace culture and wellness experts. We’ll analyze your current systems and co-create a plan that supports your team’s well-being so everyone, not just a few, can flourish.

-The CoCreate Work Team

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