10 Tips to Keep Employee Wellness on Track for the Holidays

Haley Bass

When you can’t walk through a store without being surrounded by holiday decorations, music, and “great deals,” it’s the officially holiday shopping season. While some people may get excited by the seasonal fun and time with family, others feel overwhelmed by weight gain, cold weather, and stressful family interactions. With so much weighing on their shoulders, it can be challenging to keep employees invested in a wellness program, even if participation is high throughout the rest of the year.

As an employer who cares about the wellness of your workforce, don’t let your wellness program slip through the cracks until January. Instead, find some ways to change things up and make healthy choices a celebration rather than a chore.

Here are 10 tips to keep your employee wellness program on track this holiday season:

1. Promote Healthy Eating

Between the heavy meals, party snacks, and bowls of candy, overindulging can get out of hand during the holidays. Instead of adding to the problem, be part of the solution! Have employees send in healthy holiday recipes to make a company cookbook, replace the candy with bowls of fruit, and include some healthy versions of holiday favorites in your next company newsletter.

2. Give Indoor Exercise Tips

Busy is everyone’s favorite word during this time of year, and exercise is often the first thing to go in a busy schedule. Employees who typically exercise outdoors and don’t have a gym membership might not feel like they have any options in the freezing weather. Send email tips with fun, different ways to exercise indoors. You can research ideas online, or make it a team effort and ask employees how they like to stay fit during the holidays.

3. Help with Stress Relief

With a busy schedule tends to come stress. When an employee is stressed out, their productivity levels are low. As end-of-year deadlines loom, it’s important to let your employees know that you care about their mental health. Encourage breaks throughout the day and spend some one-on-one time with your employees to see if they need any help.

4. Encourage Employees to Take PTO

Even if your employees are showing up every day for work, their mind may be elsewhere if they still have to buy gifts for the kids, go grocery shopping, and clean the house for guests. It’s more beneficial for both the employee and the business if workers take a day off to complete their to do list. It’s also better to let employees enjoy celebrations rather than resent their job for keeping them away. When employees enjoy their PTO, their time at work is much more productive.

5. Join a Holiday Fun Run

It’s easier to stay on track when there’s a goal to work toward, and holiday fun runs are the perfect event to look forward to. From Turkey Trots and Santa Runs, to Jingle Bell 5K’s and Reindeer Romps, the holidays have plenty of fun runs to choose from. Find some options online and encourage employees to sign up as a group or individually. If possible, offer a discount for registration or a prize for the fastest time.

6. Participate in a Charity Event

Doing something good for others is another way to increase wellness during the holiday season. Depending on the size of your company, you can sign up as a group or by department to participate in a charity event. Collect canned goods at the office for a local food pantry, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or support a needy child or family with a gift donation. You can increase participation by holding the event during work hours.

7. Host a Healthy Holiday Potluck

If you want to have an office holiday party, try to make it during work hours and fill it with healthy foods. Encourage employees to bring in their favorite healthy dishes, from soups and casseroles, to non-alcoholic drinks and desserts. You can even make it a contest. This time can serve as a way for employees to relax and enjoy time with each other, while also giving examples of healthy holiday eating.

8. Start a Competition/Challenge

Don’t wait to start the next step-count competition or water drinking challenge until January – try to increase health now. When combined with incentives and rewards, a challenge can motivate employees and encourage participation in your wellness program. Employees can earn points for reaching daily goals like drinking eight glasses of water, reaching 10,000 steps, and eating a serving of vegetables with every meal. Offer health-related prizes (like a Fitbit or free gym membership) for earning a certain number of points.

9. Spread Healthy Habits, Not Germs

If there wasn’t enough going on during the holiday season, it’s also a busy time for germs. A lot of people get sick during colder months, catching a cold or the flu, or getting a stuffy nose from allergies. Remind your employees of healthy habits they can follow to prevent illness. Place handwashing posters in the bathroom, host flu shots at the workplace, and put hand sanitizer and tissues in busy areas.

10. Have a Plan for January

New Year’s resolutions are great, but not having a specific plan in place makes it easy to get off track. Whether it’s HR, a third party, or a committee, the people responsible for your employee wellness program need to meet now to have a plan for January. Schedule days for employees to get health screenings, have some kickoff challenges ready to go for the first few months, and write a newsletter with healthy eating and exercise tips.