The key to creating the perfect office wellness program? Ask your employees

Andreas Rekdal

Employee health and happiness are major drivers of productivity, so companies who ignore these factors do so at their peril. But if the goal of an initiative is to promote employee happiness, the first, and most important, step is to ask employees what they want. That's why these four Chicago tech companies involve employees in developing wellness-centered initiatives.


On-site gyms are a great incentive to get that workout in, but Rise Interactive can do you one better: its employees get to access the building’s fitness facility for free. Talent acquisition manager Chris Juliano said the gym is just one way in which Rise supports employees in making healthy lifestyle decisions.

Which of your wellness initiatives are you most proud of?

At Rise, we take a comprehensive approach to wellness — from offering employees healthy food options to sponsoring in-office meditation and supporting intramural teams. We’re especially proud to provide free gym memberships to all of our employees. Our on-site fitness facility allows Risers the convenience of working out in the morning, during lunch, after work and even on the weekends. We are happy to be able to offer flexibility and support for our employees’ healthy lifestyles.

How are your employees involved in shaping your wellness initiatives?

Many of our employees are very physically active, and each year we have a significant number of Risers participate in various intramural activities and the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge. It’s clear that fitness is important to them, and we're committed to supporting these initiatives as an agency. We’ve created a wellness committee that is dedicated to promoting our goal of keeping our employees healthy, both physically and mentally. Committee members meet monthly to discuss and brainstorm wellness initiatives for the office, such as guided meditation and yoga sessions.

How do your wellness initiatives reflect your company’s culture?

We are dedicated to the overall well-being of our employees and this includes providing a healthy work environment. Since forming our wellness committee last year, we’ve seen increased participation in wellness activities among our employees. The committee ties in with our company’s belief that culture is created, rather than absorbed by our employees. We also offer free healthy snacks such as fresh veggies and fruit-infused water, and we post nutrition facts labels and food information guides to help employees make smart choices. As a result, we’re driving a more engaged, healthier team of Risers.


Although Procured Health does have an affordable in-building gym, its wellness initiatives go well beyond fitness. To co-founder and CEO Hani Elias, the core component of employee wellness is creating an environment where the growing team can thrive.

Which of your wellness initiatives are you most proud of, and why?

We have several exciting initiatives, but we are primarily focusing on our performance management processes. We recently implemented monthly pulse surveys to track engagement and employee mood, and are moving to a continuous feedback model. Additionally, we are in the process of wrapping up a company-wide exercise to define our company values, which we will incorporate into how we hire, develop and reward talent.

One of our employees also started a quarterly forum called “Conversations Worth Having.” This forum is an opportunity for employees to come together, voice their opinions, talk about sensitive topics and agree on actionable conclusions that will help us continue improving our workplace.

How are your employees involved in shaping your wellness initiatives?

We are always sourcing employee ideas and feedback about how we can help our workforce thrive. The monthly pulse surveys are a great example, and we consider it a responsibility of all employees to provide the management team with feedback. Another example is the group of individuals that we asked to help roll out our new performance management system. They will partner with our leadership team to create engagement around the initiative and help us refine our processes.

How do your wellness initiatives reflect your company’s culture?

We fundamentally believe that we will succeed or fail as one team. In order for our employees to do their best work, we need to foster diversity of thought and respectful debate, allow our employees to challenge the status quo, help employees reach stretch goals and give feedback often. These behaviors are part of our core and will help us continue to make Procured Health a great place to work.


Health and wellness do not have a one-size-fits-all solution. To ensure that every employee can start their wellness journey off right, Emmi is part of a comprehensive program designed to engage employees regardless of fitness level or health status. Employees are invited to provide input for that program through their on-site wellness champions, said CEO Devin Gross.

Which of your wellness initiatives are you most proud of?

We are very excited about the Be Well program that we can participate in as part of Wolters Kluwer. It is a comprehensive well-being program designed to help people make healthy choices and achieve good health. It's a great program because it offers a variety of ways for people to participate, and it provides an incentive for participation.   

How are your employees involved in shaping those initiatives?

We have two wellness champions on-site who help lead the program in our Chicago office. They also provide feedback and ideas to the corporate organizers to help guide and evolve the program.

How do those initiatives reflect your company’s culture?

Be Well supports Emmi's culture of supporting its employees with a fun and active work environment, work-life balance and a commitment to health and well-being. 


To ensure that its initiatives are relevant to employees, GoHealth's leadership team regularly ask employees what they’d like to see next. According to Mark Monitello, senior vice president of human resources, several popular programs have already been implemented this way.

Which of your wellness initiatives are you most proud of?

We always ensure we have what we consider to be healthy basics: well-stocked fresh fruit, subsidized gym memberships and a great benefits program. But we really pride ourselves on offering wellness perks that our employees recommend. Recently, we started offering lunchtime pilates classes and in-office manicures and haircuts, which were all suggestions we received from employees through anonymous surveys. When promoting wellness, we like to think about not only physical wellness but mental wellness, as well.

How are your employees involved in shaping your wellness initiatives?

Employees are asked to share which wellness perks are important to them, and GoHealth listens. We survey our employees on a regular basis to generate new ideas for wellness initiatives and implement the most popular suggestions. We’re always open to adding more wellness opportunities for our employees.

How do your wellness initiatives reflect your company’s culture?

As a healthcare company, we understand the importance of mental and physical health. Allowing our employees to choose which health and wellness initiatives are important to them ensures that they will utilize and benefit from the perks we provide. Our goal is to provide multiple options so everyone has an opportunity to participate.


Images via participating companies. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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