An employee wellness programme should have no end date

I speak to many companies who ask for assistance with their employee wellness programme or employee wellness days.

The problem with the word ‘programme’ or ‘day’ is that this implies employee wellness is something that has a start point and an endpoint. It shouldn’t. The health and wellness of an organization’s people should sit at the heart of culture and strategy. We all know that thriving employees do better in all areas of their lives and that thriving employees mean a thriving business, so why is employee wellness still seen as something that happens over a programme or a day?

A shift in mindset is required. In most organizations, employee wellness has traditionally been seen as a nice to have, a luxury purchase, something to put leftover budget towards.

The past six months, however, have shown that this thinking needs to shift. And to a certain extent, it has. As people have had to chance to pause and reflect during this crisis, their wellbeing has taken on new meaning. They now expect more than a once-off 30-day employee wellness programme. They expect more than a challenge or an incentive to exercise for 30 days to stand the chance of winning a Fit Bit. They expect more than just a gesture of adding broccoli to the cafeteria menu.

They now expect their organizations to become partners in their wellbeing, partners in helping them nurture their whole selves. They are looking to their organizations to create the conditions for wellbeing across all individual dimensions of wellbeing and also at an organizational level.

At an individual level, this means providing employee wellness programmes in South Africa that look at the whole person  – mental, emotional, physical, social and spiritual. And these employee wellness programmes can no longer be provided in generic, cookie-cutter style. No two individuals are the same and therefore no two people should be engaging in their wellness in exactly the same way. Space and consideration for the uniqueness of every human being need to be included in every employee wellness programme. The solution lies in a highly personalized, choice-based approach that empowers people to direct their lives and their wellbeing.

At an organizational level, there are basic elements that need to be in place before implementing an employee wellness programme:

  • Care and support need to be part of the culture
  • Leadership need to be modeling wellbeing behaviors
  • Effective communication at all levels needs to be present
  • 21st Century organizational design needs to be in place


When these elements are present, organizational health is present and these base conditions then provide the richest soil for employees to thrive and grow. An employee wellness programme with the right elements delivered in these conditions becomes less of a programme with a start date and an end date and more of a long term strategy that puts both employees and their organizations on the path to long term success.

We are BREATHE – a dedicated employee wellbeing company.