10 Crazy Corporate Wellness Programs That Work

From lactation lounges to table-tennis coaches, 10 wacky--but effective--ways companies are promoting employee health and wellness.
February 18, 2013

Employees are one of the most expensive costs for every small business, especially when they're sick and out of the office.

A Gallup poll estimates that 86 percent of employees are above their normal weight. They miss an estimated 450 million extra days of work per year compared to healthy workers, which costs American businesses $150 billion to $225 billion in lost productivity. 

To stem this tide of absenteeism, many companies are now finding innovative ways to promote corporate wellness. Here are 10 that might work for your business.

1. Tennis anyone? According to Robert Blackwell, Jr., CEO of Killerspin, table tennis, aka ping-pong, is an “easy, fun and inexpensive way for employees to refresh themselves mentally and physically to engage with their coworkers.” Jeffery Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks believes “one of the greatest things that we ever did was buy four ping-pong tables … and suddenly the place came to life." Google reportedly even has a table tennis coach to help employees.

2. Exercise. Many organizations promote biking to work or encourage trips to the gym, with either gym discounts or access to an onsite gym. Honest Tea offers its employees bikes at cost through its partnership with Jamis

3. Online health coach. As more employees work remotely or travel extensively, companies like Accenture are offering custom programs online so employees can stay fit even when they are not at a central location.

4. Lactation lounges. As more moms return to work after the births of their children, companies like Jamba Juice and Progressive Insurance are offering private, comfortable lactation lounges to help ease the transition for breastfeeding moms.

Photo: Getty Images 

 5. Smile bright. Not having time to go to the dentist isn't an excuse that will fly at companies like Chesapeake Energy, which has an in-house dentist, which makes getting to appointments easy.

 6. Catch some zzz's. Experts say that napping on the job can really improve employee productivity. Zappos and Google have “energy pods” for quick on-the-job naps.

7. Chiropractic care. Sitting in a chair can wreak havoc on your back; some experts even liken the dangers of sitting at a computer all day the new smoking. Companies like Standard Process have a chiropractor to straighten employees out.

8. Zen worthy. Need a place just to go “chillax” during a stressful day? Everbrite has a room set aside just for this purpose.

9. Laundry service. One way to alleviate stress for employees is to help them get their laundry done—just ask the employees at Next Jump

10. Masseuse. What better way to relax and unwind than with a massage, which is exactly what the employees at Stumble Upon do?

At Zappos, corporate wellness goes beyond the employee. It provides health insurance for employees' dogs.

Before you say that you can't afford extra perks for your employees, think about corporate wellness as a cost reduction plan. Healthy employees will save your company money through increased productivity and less turnover.

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Photo: Thinkstock