What is a wellbeing day for employees?

A quick summary:

  1. What is a wellbeing day?
  2. Why makes wellbeing days important for employees?
  3. Wellbeing day ideas to consider
  4. Should you offer employees wellness days?
  5. Improve wellbeing with Heka

For some companies, a wellbeing day empowers employees to focus on themselves. A day that encourages people to do things that contribute to their health and happiness.

Wellbeing day ideas include finishing earlier, team-wide events,  opportunities to learn and more. Employees celebrate a wellbeing day depending on what makes them happier.

It's this element of personalisation and choice that makes wellbeing days so powerful. For some, it's hitting the gym. For others, it's spending quality time with their family.

In this guide to wellbeing days, we’re going to look at what exactly they are and why they’re important. We’ll then turn our attention to various wellbeing day ideas you can introduce to your team.

By the end, you will be in a better position to support employee health and wellbeing. Remember, workplace wellbeing must be an ongoing endeavour.

It’s initiatives like this that can really reinforce a positive workplace culture and support your wellbeing strategy. Without eating into any more of your time, let’s dive into our first topic…

Wellbeing day explanation graphic

What is a wellbeing day?

A wellbeing day is a day where employees are encouraged to focus on themselves. It’s having the freedom to focus on activities that promote a healthier work-life balance and  improve their emotional, mental or physical wellbeing.

Alternatively, a wellbeing day can also be a set period each week introduced by an employer. One where employees are invited to collectively increase their health and wellbeing.

It also demonstrates a commitment from an employer to building healthier, happier teams, and benefits a company when it comes to brand reputation, recruitment efforts and employee performance. From team-building exercises to office yoga, there are hundreds of ways to celebrate a wellness day.

It’s no secret that happier and more engaged employees perform better. In one study reported by HBR, organisations that report higher engagement see a 22% increase in productivity. Knight Frank does a great job of highlighting some interesting statistics around the ROI of happy employees.

Most notably, the cost of replacing an employee averages around £12,000 - further demonstrating that through wellbeing days you can increase retention and minimise high turnover that results in huge expenses.

Why are wellbeing days important for employees?

So, now that we understand exactly what makes a wellbeing day, why are they so important for employees?

Well, to put it simply, the past couple of years has been no easy ride for everyone. From a global pandemic to a recession, people are burdened with increasing uncertainty and worry.

However, as we journey past the pandemic, wellness days have grown in popularity in the workplace. Employers are now recognising that healthier, happier employees produce better results.

And how better to support this than through giving employees a wellbeing day from time to time? What some organisations have realised is that although employees step back from their duties, they come back much stronger.
Ultimately, the role of health and wellbeing has been through an interesting evolution in recent years.

Some say employers are becoming too soft on their workforce, while other businesses have seen performance improve in leaps and bounds after rethinking employee wellbeing.

It’s initiatives like wellbeing days, earlier finishes and remote work policies that reshaping the recruitment landscape. In 2022 alone, employers had to tailor job offerings to meet the current needs of employees.

With a war for talent and Great Resignation manipulating the success of a company’s hiring efforts, things like remote work must be integrated.

Ultimately, offering employees a wellbeing day is a great initiative. It should, however, be offered in a much larger and revamped benefits package or wellbeing strategy.

An employee working from home and smiling
Wellbeing day ideas for your employees

Wellbeing Day Ideas for your team

Now let’s take a look at some wellbeing day ideas that you can incorporate into your working week. Hopefully, this will provide the foundation for your wellness days, and inspire you to come up with outside-the-box solutions.

Remember: involving your team in these brainstorming sessions is a great idea. As we’ve mentioned, there are hundreds of wellbeing day ideas - having your team involved in the decision-making process shows a willingness to listen and act on the best solutions for them.

Shorter working days for wellbeing

Starting with shorter working days, this is probably the most impactful change to your business. It’s one that you should consider carefully. In most cases, you want to find solutions that won’t hinder the organisation's performance and progress.

Providing shorter days won’t have a negative impact, it can be a great choice for your employee wellbeing day. Start by asking your team what particular day of the week they would prefer to finish earlier.

Next, look at the amount of time you think is appropriate to shorten the said day. It’s important you don’t overlap early finishes with business activities.

Why not go that one step further, and put together a list of events and idea suggestions your team can do each week to celebrate their shorter day? The main objective of a shorter day is to empower employees to focus on themselves.

At Heka, the team finishes earlier on a Friday, giving everyone the chance to hit the gym, or do something that improves their health and happiness – because, who doesn’t want to start the weekend early?

Not only is this a great idea for a wellbeing day, but shorter working weeks have also become a trendy subject of attention recently.

Businesses throughout the UK are currently trailing shorter weeks and long weekends to decide if there’s any drop in productivity and performance.

So, why not jump on the bandwagon and introduce shorter working days or working weeks as part of your employee wellbeing day plan?

Similar read: Why Wellbeing Wednesday is a great employee benefit?

Team-building activities

Moving on, let’s talk about team-building activities and why they should be considered for wellness days. Teams all over the world need to be engaged with their colleagues and workplace.

When they are literally all over the world, this can be difficult. Whether you’re in the office or working from home, online multiplayer quizzes, games and puzzles are a great way to enjoy a wellbeing day.

Each fortnight on a Wednesday, the team at Heka come together on a call to play a virtual quiz. This may be anything from Guess Who to a general knowledge quiz.

It’s team-building activities like this that help team members build relationships, increase engagement and boost wellbeing. Alternatively, these team-building exercises could be the chance for new employees to get to know everyone during wellness days.

We strongly recommend team-building activities for your wellbeing day. Check out the list CozyMeal has put together a list of different virtual activities for remote teams.

Team-building activities don’t have to be online games, though. It’s important leaders think outside the box with their wellbeing day ideas.

Think EscapeRooms where everyone must collaborate and communicate effectively. Alternatively, team-based activities like football or tennis can be great for a wellness days.

Focus on the various ways you can bring everyone together to build better relationships with one another. That, in itself, is a successful employee wellbeing days.

A group of employees collaborating on a project in an office on the floor
Team-building activities for your staff wellbeing day

Leaderboard and team-wide challenges

In addition to team-building and virtual games, let’s look at challenges for your wellbeing days. When we say challenges, we mean things like running events and competitive challenges the team can get involved in each week.

This doesn’t have to be team-based. In fact, we recommend making this a competition amongst your workforce to drive engagement and participation. If you’ve taken on the shorter working day idea above, this is the perfect opportunity to encourage employees to get active.

Each week, you should have a board in the office showing who completed the longest run, the highest amount of burpees, or the most steps. Whatever challenge and target you set, ensure your team are happy to get involved. Fitness challenges aren’t for everyone, so this could be an idea for a select few only.

Alternatively, find other ways to involve everyone. As a designated organiser, it’s important your challenges are inclusive of everyone during your wellbeing day. While setting up fitness challenges may be ideal or desired by 50% of your workforce, you are only really striving to increase engagement for half of your team.

These challenges will motivate people to get up and get active on their wellbeing day. There are many free apps out there to track steps, kilometres and time in the gym. Healthy competition is a huge motivator in many scenarios of life, and this should be a great addition to some of the ideas mentioned above.

Celebrate national awareness days on your wellbeing day

Let’s discuss national awareness days. For instance, the 7th of June 2023 will see ‘Global Running Day’. There are plenty of opportunities to involve awareness days and weeks into your wellbeing days, and they should make it onto your wellbeing board displays.

If you’re struggling for ideas on a particular wellness days, these can help out massively in your planning. Remember, wellbeing days aren’t just to test your team’s fitness, it’s to raise awareness around common issues that impact health and wellbeing.

Most of us all hold a certain charity or cause close to our hearts. Highlighting their awareness means educating people in the workplace. It’s only once we learn that we understand.

It’s crucial you involve your employees in the planning of this wellbeing day idea. After all, it’s charities and causes that they feel passionate about that should be given awareness.

As you plan your wellness days, take a look at the various awareness days in 2023. Begin with a number of these dates, especially those focused on raising awareness of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Let your employees choose their own wellness days

Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about handed the power over to employees. In their most popular form, a wellbeing day (as we described in the beginning) is a time when employees step away from their working duties to focus on their health and wellbeing.

If you want employees to truly make the most of their wellness days, offering them flexibility and choice is one of the best ways to go about this initiative.

Although employees could technically spend their wellbeing day doing nothing to boost their health and wellbeing, it’s the trust from leaders that really drives stronger relationships and job satisfaction for employees.

Instead of monitoring the use of wellness days, employers should subtly encourage physical fitness and other activities that focus on wellbeing. Dictating how people spend their wellbeing day goes completely against the entire idea.

As we’ve said many times here at Heka, health and wellbeing are both personal and subjective. What works for one individual may not work for another.
If a member of your team wants to spend their time learning Spanish, so they should! If another employee wants to do a jigsaw puzzle and detox from social media for an entire day, that too should make the cut for a wellbeing day.

In most of life's scenarios, nobody likes to be told what to do or what’s best for them. Let employees make their own mind up about how to spend their wellbeing day for the best possible results.

Employees smiling during an event at work
Should you offer employees wellness days?

Should you offer employees a wellbeing day?

So, we’ve made it to the end together. The question is, should you offer employees a wellbeing day in our organisation? As an employee wellbeing platform, it’s our duty to say yes! We wholeheartedly believe in wellbeing days as a means to create healthier, happier people in the workplace.

Granted it is still early days for this initiative, but in the short space of time since the pandemic, it’s popularity has exploded. The difference between ignoring it and offering it to your workforce is attracting and retaining top talent or seeing them leave from your team.

Here’s a few of questions to ask yourself as a leader, which should give you something to think about when it comes to wellness days…

  1. What’s stopping you from introducing a wellbeing day for employees?
  2. Have I carried out surveys to understand what employees would like?
  3. Do our employee benefits generally support health and wellbeing already?

Don't forget to check out our Wellbeing Trends Report 2023, giving your HR team all the ideas to rethink their wellbeing incentives.

Boosting health and wellbeing with our wellbeing platform

Looking for even more ways to boost health and wellbeing in the workplace? Well, our employee wellbeing platform offers thousands of experiences, services and products to help you.

Across more than 50 categories, we’ve brought together some of the leading brands in health and wellbeing. Through a monthly allowance, you can empower your team to improve their wellbeing - choosing from life coaching, language learning, health supplements, outdoor activities and more.

We understand that health and wellbeing are personal, and so our employee wellbeing platform has been built to reflect this. To find out how Heka can benefit your team’s wellbeing, book a demo with our wellbeing experts today!

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