Jeff Murphy

6 Easy Ways How To Reduce Stress at Work (And Be Happy) in 2021

What’s Your Favorite Way to Reduce Stress at Work?
There’s a silent killer in your workplace.
It lurks in the shadows, depleting your energy, sacking your concentration, and shaking your confidence.
Your co-workers talk about it in hushed tones (if at all), and your boss is in denial of its very existence…
Its name?
Stress.
It’s no joke. Countless studies show that excess stress can cause real physical symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, increased blood pressure, chest pain, and trouble sleeping.
That’s not to mention its role in mood disorders like anxiety and depression. In the infographic below, we’ll take a look a look at the alarming costs of workplace stress, the warning signs that you’re too stressed, and 6 simple methods for reducing stress at work.
OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) deemed stress a “hazard of the workplace,” and estimates put the cost of stress at $190 billion a year in annual healthcare bills.
And it’s not isolated to specific industries – the problem is widespread. 65% of adults say that work is the source of their significant stress.
On top of that, a joint team of Harvard and Stanford researchers looked at data from the General Social Survey and the American Community Survey and found that stressful jobs might actually lower your life expectancy.
The key to learning how to manage stress at work so to keep it at a healthy level and make sure it doesn’t become overwhelming. Easier said than done, right? We’re here to help. Here are 6 tried and true methods for learning how to relieve stress at work – so you can get back to kicking butt.
Tip: Did you know that companies that have sent their employees working-from-home a care package during the pandemic saw a boost to virtual employee engagement and productivity projections by as much as 17%? Cure burnout and reinvigorate your remote employees with a WFH Wellness Box today!

Table of Contents

1. Make Time For Workplace Wellness
Your workplace should support your sustained wellbeing throughout the day. Say it again so you don’t forget. Hard work needs balance to be sustainable. Now, not everyone is lucky enough to have a dedicated home office, but there are plenty of small things you can do to make your work from home experience more enjoyable and healthier. Some excellent items to facilitate this are:
Greenery in your scenery.
In addition to improving the air quality, adding indoor plants to your desktop can have a soothing effect and make your space feel calmer.

A water bottle.
Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day helps to keep your brain alert and “moist” which provides ideal conditions for creative thinking and problem solving. It also ensures that your body will remind you to get up and move when you need the bathroom.

Natural light.
Creating a bright and natural workspace can immensely support your mood and productivity. In addition, natural light reduces the need for artificial lighting during the day, which can help to save on energy costs!

Something that smells good.
Whether it’s a deliciously scented candle or a diffuser with some uplifting essential oils, keeping the environment smelling good can shift your mood and awaken your senses through scent and sight.

Weekly virtual wellness classes.
You may be pretty used to spending all day working on a computer, but staring at a screen for hours is exhausting. A quick fix is to request that your company hires Remote Team Wellness to facilitate weekly live-taught wellness classes for your whole company. They’re the world’s leading virtual corporate wellness company and we love what they do, so check them out.

Want to learn more? To get a customized virtual corporate wellness benefit recommendation for your team book a free organizational wellness assessment with Remote Team Wellness today.

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2. Prioritize and Organize

Feeling overwhelmed is a major stressor. A great way to make a major reduction in your stress is to learn how to handle stress at your work by prioritizing and organizing. Here’s how to do it:
Clarify Goals.
Before you can prioritize, you have to set clear objectives. Make time to sit with your manager and clarify your goals. sBe sure that your daily activities track back to one of your overarching goals.

Prioritize Against Goals.
Don’t set priorities arbitrarily. Use your goals to evaluate the importance of every task. At SnackNation, we teach team members to evaluate each task by asking, “Is this getting me closer to or further away from my goals?” If the answer is anything other than “closer to,” it’s not a priority.

Focus on 2-3 things Max.
There’s an old saying – if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Focus on the “biggest levers” – that is, the 2 or 3 things each week that will have the biggest impact on your goals.

Set Deadlines.
As a general rule, if a task doesn’t have a deadline, it will get pushed aside for one that does. Set realistic deadlines for everything, and everything will get done.

Use Your Calendar.
Plan your weeks in your calendar so that you maximize the limited time you have each week. At SnackNation we recommend team members plan out their weeks on Friday or even Sunday evenings. Make sure to schedule breaks in there as well – as in actually put them in your calendar!

Make a To-Do List.
So simple, yet so effective. To make sure things get done, write them down in a notebook or a note taking app. If you’re still overwhelmed, use a task management software like monday.com to keep a handle on your daily activity, and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

3. Form Positive Relationships

Making friends at work isn’t always easy. In fact, a recent sociology study suggests people may need to spend up to 200 hours together before they consider themselves “close friends.” Hours spent bonding at work can help build friendships, but the dedicated quality time spent team-building can speed up the bonding process.
Rally a team to use a resource such as Go Game to bring more team-building time into your office environment. As you race through scavenger hunts, solve puzzles, play lawn games, and more, you’ll notice strong friendships forming organically.
Here are some other tips for fostering positive personal relationships at work:
Start your own “buddy” or mentorship program.
At SnackNation, every new hire gets a veteran “buddy” to show them the ropes, introduce them to people, and provide guidance and support.
By design, this “buddy” isn’t a manager. It’s someone in whom you can confide any concern, personal or professional. Our SN buddies are trained to lend an ear and provide judgment-free advice.
They system works best when buddies are from different departments, so there’s less chance of office politics becoming a factor.

Put down your smartphone!
Instead of burying your head in your Instagram feed at lunch, leave your phone at your desk during breaks and engage with co-workers.

Encourage vulnerability.
Vulnerability exercises are something we do at our SnackNation offsites. After breaking out into smaller groups of four or five, everyone in the group is encouraged to share something personal – often a meaningful experience from their upbringing.
The relationships formed during these vulnerability exercises are the basis for some of the deepest and longest-lasting relationships at the company.

Host an interactive event.
Speed up the getting-to-know-you process by taking part in a structured activity, like a guided brewery tour. With a charismatic beer nerd guide at the helm and an itinerary to follow, you’ll have plenty in common to talk about and can avoid any awkward silences. But what if you work remotely? Get everyone together online instead! We love this virtual homebrewing class by City Brew Tours.
Host a ‘Happier Hour’ with Laughter on Call for a laugh out loud, stress-busting experience that creates connections in isolation and builds trust. ‘Happier Hour‘ provides a structure for ZOOM socializing with some ice-breaking questions, Improv games, and personal storytelling prompts to help people get to know each other a little better, relax and blow off steam. The ‘Happier Hour’ experience reminds people that we are in this together and that despite a pandemic we can still maintain relationships and have a good time!
After a long week, plan an event that stimulates creativity and problem solving to reduce stress at work. Some of our favorites include:

4. Start Exercising (or Exercise More)

With its mood-boosting and endorphin-releasing properties, regular aerobic exercise is a natural stress reducer.
Exercise’s ability to elevate mood is well documented. Numerous studies going back to the early 80’s found that regular exercise can improve mood for people with moderate depression.

In fact, a 1999 study found that exercise was just as effective in eliminating depression antidepressants. Exercise also helps get your mind off your stressful thoughts. By training yourself to be in the moment and focus on your body’s movements (rather than mulling over your worries), exercise can be a form of active meditation and have a calming effect on the body and mind.
You should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of activity each day. If you don’t have the time to fit in a run or gym session before or after work each day, here are some tips to increase your mobility in the office:
Launch a wellness challenge.
Gamify company fitness by launching a wellness challenge. Shoot for a team-wide goal, but also reward top performers to foster some friendly competition. At SnackNation, we passed out fitness trackers and added up our steps in a bid to virtually “walk” the distance from LA to San Francisco during our wellness month. Each week, we also named a winner for the most active team member.

Switch to an “Active Desk.”
Sitting for long stretches at your desk is not good for your health. Alternatively, standing desks get you out of your chair and on your feet. This works your stabilizing leg and stomach muscles, your heart, and lets you burn extra calories. Check out Vivo’s sit-stand desk (this is the one I personally use).

Take walking meetings.
In a recent interview with the Awesome Office Show, BittyFoods CEO Megan Miller explained that she gets in daily exercise by taking calls while strolling through San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. LA-based skincare brand Murad also installed a walking track in their office space to encourage team members to get up from their desks during the day.

5. Eat Healthy and Nutritious Foods

Photo Credit: Stacy via Flickr’s Creative Commons

Ever heard the phrase “eat your feelings”?
It’s a real phenomenon. Many people turn to unhealthy “comfort foods” as stress management at work.
Safe to safe that dealing with work stress in this manner is not good. Why does this happen? When we’re stressed, our brain releases the hormone cortisol, which makes us crave salty, sweet, and fat-laden foods for the temporary pleasure they bring. But ironically, “stress eating” only exacerbates the problem.
Sugar or fat-laden foods like pizza, burgers, and ice cream make us feel lethargic, and less likely to tackle the problems that lay before us, which in turn only increases our stress.

That’s why it’s so important to eat healthy foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates that fuel our brains and support concentration and focus. This will give you the power to learn how to handle work pressure & how to overcome stress at work. Not sure what to eat? Here are some tips: Eat this:
Complex carbs like whole wheat bread or pasta and vegetables
Foods high in fiber like fruits and vegetables
Superfoods like Kale, Dark Chocolate, and blueberries, which contain mood-boosting antioxidants
Lean proteins like chicken, or better yet, wild-caught Alaskan Salmon (high in mood stabilizing omega-3’s)
Avoid this:
Foods high in fat like cheese and red meat, which lead to lethargy and sluggishness
Foods high in refined carbs or sugar, which cause your energy to spike and crash
Caffeinated drinks like coffee and soda, which in inhibit your ability to sleep
Nicotine, a stimulant that can boost your anxiety
Alcohol, a natural depressant
And don’t forget, no other food category impacts your overall diet like snacking. The availability of healthy snacks will help improve your diet and keep your stress in check.

6. Get Enough Sleep

We can’t say this enough – get some sleep!
Stress has long been linked to chronic insomnia. But while conventional wisdom treats the inability to sleep as a symptom of stress, researchers at Gold Bee found that poor sleep may actually be a contributing factor.
That’s because a lack of sleep inhibits your ability to cope with even normal amounts of stress, and negatively affects your mood and outlook. The point is, you can’t hope to reduce stress when you’re on edge and irritable from lack of sleep. Here are some tips to get your sleep schedule back on track:
Shoot for eight hours a night.
There used to be a stigma, especially among business leaders, that “sleep is for the weak.” The most productive people know that you can’t operate at peak performance without the regenerative effects of proper sleep. So don’t skimp!

Stick to a schedule.
Set your body’s internal clock by hitting the hay at the same time every night. You should be able to fall asleep fairly quickly and wake at the same time each day without an alarm clock. And speaking of sticking to a schedule…

Avoid sleeping in on weekends.
While it may be tempting, sleeping in can throw off this schedule and undo the progress you’ve made.

Turn off screens 1 hour before you want to go to bed.
Whether it’s TV, laptops, or our smartphones, screens keep our brains engaged and make it difficult for us to fall asleep. Winding down your day with a healthy activity and avoiding screen time can help you better cope in a demanding job.

Take cat naps.
We’re talking 15-20 minutes, max. While we definitely believe that naps are regenerative, don’t over do it. Again, the goal is to get in a rhythm of getting proper sleep more often than not, so you’re clear headed and ready to take on the day.

Bonus: Kick Your Bad Habits

Managing stress at work is partially about your mindset. Your outlook can have a huge impact on your ability to cope with everyday stressors. Keep them in check so they don’t become major sources of negative stress. Here are a few tips to change your mindset by break the bad habits that are holding you back:
Stay positive.
One way to do this is to express gratitude. It’s surprising how much different your outlook is when you make a point to recognize the people and things in your life that you’re lucky to have.

Resist perfectionism.
Don’t fear mistakes, learn from them. The desire to be perfect can make your stress spike and your self-worth plummet. Recognize that failures don’t define you, they’re just opportunities for learning and growth.

Focus on what you can control.
Much of the anxiety we experience is over the uncertainty caused by things outside our control. The best way to combat that is to only focus on the things we can control – like our effort, our attitude, and how we treat people – rather than the outcomes we can’t.

Conclusion
Of course, not all stress is created equal. A certain amount of healthy stress in the workplace is actually a good thing. Experts make a distinction between eustress (good) and distress (bad), and point out that eustress is actually necessary for individuals to make breakthroughs and companies to grow.
What’s the difference? Eustress is motivating. It keeps you on task and helps you cross the finish line. Distress is debilitating and occurs when the good stress builds up and becomes too much to cope with. Negative work stress can come from a variety of factors. (Any of these sound familiar?)
Fear of being laid off or fired
Additional overtime due to budget cuts
Pressure due to constantly rising expectations
Pressure to constantly work at peak levels
How do you know if your stress level is out of control? Here are a few warning signs:
Depressed mood – you may lose confidence, become angry, irritable, or withdrawn
You lose interest in your work, and a sense of apathy takes over
You’re unable to sleep or experience fatigue during the day
You have trouble concentrating
You experience muscle tension, headaches, or stomach problems
You notice a decrease in your libido
You turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism
While dealing with stress at work is real problem in the American workplace, it’s definitely solvable. Follow the tactics outlined here to bring your stress level back down into the healthy range so you can continue to experience breakthroughs and create some real magic for yourself. We hope you learn how to avoid stress at work. Have a great trick to reduce stress in the workplace that we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments below.

Employee Wellness Resources:
121 Employee Wellness Program Ideas Your Team Will Love
45 Successful Corporate Wellness Programs Employees Will Love
42 Corporate Wellness Companies That Are Transforming Workplace Health and Happiness
13 Easy Ways to Create a Zen Office Space On a Budget
23 Surefire Ways to Boost Employee Wellbeing
How to Create a Killer Office Fitness Challenge
25 Office Exercises: Easy Desk-Friendly Ways to Get Fit
11 Data-Backed Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs You Need to Know About
Everything You Need to Launch a Kick-Ass Employee Wellness Survey
9 Simple Hacks to Stay Healthy at Work
What Is An Employee Wellness Program?

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26 Surefire Ways To Boost Employee Wellbeing In 2021

Let’s face it – we spend the majority of our waking lives at work.
For most us, our lives are made up mostly of work.
Companies are learning that acknowledging – rather than denying – this fact is not just the right thing to do, but also a sound business decision.
In a recent interview, Life is Good founder Bert Jacobs emphasized that focusing on things like employee wellbeing has an often under-acknowledged business benefit for organizations.
According to Jacobs, focusing on employee wellbeing and purpose is “a smart strategy for building a strong business….The organization only hurts themselves if they’re not working in the best interest of everybody at their organization.”
Why is this the case? Employee wellbeing is linked to employee engagement and productivity, and your organization becomes stronger across the board when you make it a priority.

Take your appreciation efforts to the next level by managing them through an employee recognition and engagement platform like Bonusly

Your company isn’t the product you make, your intellectual property, your patents, or even the customers you serve. First and foremost, your company is your people. (Literally. The word “company” comes from the military, and simply refers to a body of soldiers.)
Before we get to brass tacks, first a quick note on what we mean by employee wellbeing:
“Employee happiness,” “employee engagement,” and “employee wellbeing” are terms that often thrown around interchangeably. While they’re all related, they mean different things and imply different strategies.
What’s the difference?
Specifically, employee wellbeing is about how your job – your duties, expectations, stress level, and environment – affects your overall health and happiness.
And while it certainly includes things like exercise and nutrition, well-being isn’t just about physical health. It’s about mood and cognition, and less tangible factors like a sense of purpose. Above all, it’s about understanding your employees from a holistic perspective, taking into account the totality of their lives, and considering their overall quality of life.
Easier said than done, we know. But we’re here to help.
Here are 26 proven and powerful ways to boost employee wellbeing at your company.
Tip: Did you know that companies that have sent their employees working-from-home a care package during the pandemic saw a boost to virtual employee engagement and productivity projections by as much as 17%? Cure burnout and reinvigorate your remote employees with a WFH Wellness Box today!

Table of Contents

1. Make Recognition and Praise Part of Your Company’s Culture.
One of the most desired – and easiest to implement – wellbeing initiatives is simply to recognize employees for their effort and achievements. A recent survey shows that 70% of employees say recognition makes them feel emotionally connected to peers while another 70% say recognition makes them happier at home. The impact of a recognition-rich culture cannot be understated.
Nectar makes it really easy to build recognition and praise into your company’s culture to create a positive work environment. With Nectar, all employees are empowered to give recognition, increasing the frequency and stickiness of praise throughout your organization.

This is especially effective for Millennial employees, who are accustomed to receiving praise from a very young age. Being part of the so-called “self-esteem generation,” they often crave recognition more than a pay raise.
A handwritten thank you note, or formal recognition program – like Nectar, for example – all go a long way towards creating a positive emotional environment that supports wellbeing.
Or you could do a “Crush It Call”. Here’s how we do them at SnackNation HQ:

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2. Invest in Affordable Weekly Virtual Employee Wellbeing.
What would your team do if they could come together weekly for live-taught Meditation, Yoga, Fitness, team-building and other wellness classes taught by experts? They’d thrive. Practicing mindfulness is associated with several facets of overall well-being, including reduced stress, enhanced relationships, and stronger focus.
At SnackNation, we perform an employee-led guided meditation session every Wednesday at 2 pm. Our resident meditation expert, Spencer Carlson, studied the practice in India, and helps our team become more mindful and present.

Like mindfulness, guided meditation offers almost too many benefits to list. They include things like better sleep, improved metabolism and weight loss, reduced stress and aging, and improved mood and cognition.
So why not give your employees the chance to build a sustainable, long-term wellness practice with regular live-taught Movement, Mindset, Purpose, Nutrition and other wellness sessions led by world-class experts from Remote Team Wellness.

We’ve used RTW at SnackNation now that we are fully remote and support their vision of the future of virtual employee wellbeing:

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To get a customized virtual corporate wellbeing recommendation for your team book a free organizational wellness assessment with Remote Team Wellness today.

3. Show You Care with Caroo.

Looking for a beautifully simple way to boost employee wellness? Try premium gifts that show your team how much you care.
Caroo makes it easy to add your own personal touch to their expertly curated premium gifts, ensuring your employees get gift boxes that make them feel cared for and also inspired. Receiving items they love along with messages of caring will nurture the social and emotional dimensions of your employees’ wellness.

4. Incentivize Employees to Practice Gratitude.
Studies show that gratitude is positively correlated with happiness, stronger relationships, and overall better mental wellbeing. Fond helps you make expressing gratitude an integrated cultural norm at your company by making the process of peer-to-peer recognition as easy as possible.

The benefits of having peers express gratitude for one another works in two directions.
On the one hand, encouraging employees to call out their colleagues for good behavior puts them on the lookout for wins — it quite literally primes their attention to focus on the positive. As you can imagine, this mindset shift can be transformational in terms of instilling a winners’ attitude in your team.

At the same time, when employees are on the receiving end of employee recognition through Fond, it’s a fantastic feeling. Knowing that your peers see and appreciate your hard work is great, and being rewarded for it doesn’t hurt either.
Fond makes employee recognition easy, which paves the way for it to become a habit. With gratitude as a defining value of your organizational culture, you’re well-equipped to provide employees with the kind of supportive, uplifting work environment that they need to thrive.

5. Break Out In an Impromptu Dance Competition.
This idea comes from the awesome folks at Sonic Boom wellness, based in Carlsbad, CA:

“Sitting at a desk for an entire eight-hour shift (or longer) can take its toll on our physical and mental wellbeing. As one of the many creative ways we help keep Sonic Boom employees engaged while at work, our Co-founders suggested that we participate in random two-minute dance parties – an idea borrowed from the popular Ellen daytime talk show.
When the music starts playing in our colorful Think Tank, Boomers are encouraged to stop what they’re doing, get up from their computers, and let loose with some sweet dance moves. Not only do we get our blood flowing, we also experience a healthy mental release by dancin’ like we just don’t care (and building some special camaraderie with our coworkers in the process).
A bit silly? Of course. But is everyone smiling at the end? You betcha.”

6. Empower Wellness with Swag.
Wellness doesn’t have to be out of reach when you have the right tools. Employees have the motivation to be well, but sometimes, they just need a little boost toward their goals. 
Give them the support they need with branded wellness gifts from Swag.com. Not only does this swag help boost employees’ wellness game, but it will also show them appreciation while encouraging loyalty. 
Get inspiration for your feel-good giveaways by checking out these wellness offerings from Swag.com:

7. Throw Down Fitness Challenges.
Fitness challenges are one of the best ways to kickstart your company’s wellbeing into gear.
Why are they so effective? Fitness challenges unlock the spirit of fun and friendly competition. Peer involvement will encourage greater participation, and inspire your team to push themselves further than they would on their own.
Here at SnackNation, we recently launched the “Walk it Out” step challenge, during which the entire org received Jawbone fitness trackers, and logged our steps daily.

The goal was to “walk” from LA to San Francisco as a team over the course of 4 weeks – that is, log the 772,000 steps between LA and the city by the bay.
In addition to the team goal, prizes were awarded for individual step leaders after each week. It was that combination of shared and individual goals that held the key to the program’s success. Our team felt a sense of togetherness and esprit de corps as we strove for common goals, and celebrated individual leaders throughout the week.
Fitness challenges don’t cost much to launch (fitness trackers are great, but definitely not required), and provide outsized benefits to your organization, fostering both team building and overall wellbeing.

8. Give Employees The Tools to Discover Their Purpose.
Jenn Lim, the CEO and Chief Happiness Officer at Delivering Happiness – a company she co-founded with Zappos’ Tony Hsieh to help companies unlock the business potential of happiness – is a huge proponent of purpose-driven cultures.
Lim and DH take a scientific look at happiness, drawing on positive psychology to determine how companies can optimize their cultures. One of the primary insights they found is that a sense of purpose is key to creating a sustainable culture of happiness and wellbeing.
According to the team’s research, there are three levels of happiness:
pleasure – a fleeting form of happiness
passion – a more sustained form of happiness that continues to deliver as long as you are performing the activity about which you are passionate
purpose – the highest level, which permeates your daily life with happiness and energy
Under this rubric, the best thing you can do for employee wellbeing is to infuse your culture with a sense of purpose.
How is this done?
Chris Cutter, CEO of LifeDojo wellbeing, says,

“We believe that when you put genuine employee engagement first, permanent positive health habits follow.” So what makes “genuine” engagement in wellbeing? According to LifeDojo, a few things:
First, focus on your employees’ intrinsic motivation (everyone has very specific, individual goals and reasons for working on their own health).
Second, foster a sense of ownership by encouraging employees to personalize what health and wellbeing habits they’ll work on as part of your wellness initiatives.
Third, offer a coach who can treat employees not as problems to be solved, but as human beings to empower. Finally, give employees the opportunity to be champions of the program, encouraging your team to grow interest in new initiatives from the bottom up…instead of imposing new programs from the top down.
Engagement has an incredible impact on your company culture. When an employee sees wellbeing as a perk instead of something they ‘have to do,’ you start to see job satisfaction, productivity and appreciation skyrocket.”

(For more on the power of purpose, check out our Ultimate List of Employee Engagement Ideas)

9. Encourage Employees to Develop Friendships.

It should come as no surprise that building lasting friendships can be one of the most fulfilling aspects of our lives. And one of the best wellness strategies you can foster.
However, you may be interested to learn that recent research proves that when working in a team, friends outperform strangers.
Ohio State researchers compared the results of 26 different studies and concluded that friends coordinate tasks more effectively because they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that can break up work in the most effective way.
Robert Lount, a co-author of the study and associate professor at Ohio State’s business school, notes, “Working with friends is not just something that makes us feel good – it can actually produce better results.”
Employee engagement is at an all-time low and one way to encourage employees to care more about their job–encourage them to foster friendships.
Feeling safe, supported and appreciated at work can go a long way to improve performance and productivity but social interactions also release oxytocin, referred to as the love drug.
According to MindBodyGreen, humans are social beings and our brains have evolved to ensure our survival which means that they operate best when we interact and connect with others. Social exchanges can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression while increasing feelings of happiness and calm.
Oxytocin also calms “the fear center of the brain, and strengthens its communications with brain circuits that help you control emotions.”
When you boil it down, having friends at work helps you be better at your job by improving communication and collaboration, and perhaps more importantly, it leads to a happier life overall.
Here a couple simple ideas to facilitate connections for your employees:
Implement a new hire buddy system
Allow co-workers to take their full lunch break
Encourage team traditions and rituals
Start an office-wide Slack channel dedicated to sharing personal interests
Consider having a yearly offsite

10. Get Some Steps in During Your Meetings.
Want another way to help your team “hack” their way to improved health? Hold your next meeting on foot.
Walking meetings are a great way to add a little movement and exercise into your schedule, without sacrificing productivity.
In fact, you’re more likely to enhance your productivity.

Take your business meetings a step further – with a walking meeting. It works for me: http://t.co/laCOwqQ57D pic.twitter.com/dyIyi07i8y
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson)

The benefits of ditching stuffy conference rooms for meetings on-the-go are plentiful: the added blood flow and shifting environment will enhance focus and spur creativity.
Think we’re making this up? Some of the greatest thinkers in history – including Steve Jobs, Harry S. Truman, and even Aristotle – swore by walking meetings.
El Segundo, California-based skincare brand Murad came up with an ingenious way to encourage walking meetings. They painted a walking track in their new, 45,000 global headquarters. The track, which snakes through and around the floor of their offices, enables employees to stretch their legs and discuss work on the fly.
Lisa Sterling, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at human capital management technology company Ceridian, offers another cool idea:

“Several Ceridian offices have installed treadmill workstations for employees to walk while on conference calls, web meetings or working on their laptops. It’s a way to encourage our people to keep moving during the day and is actively embraced by our people.”

11. Institute Flexible Work Hours for Improved Work/Life Balance.
As we mentioned in the beginning, employee wellbeing isn’t just about physical health. It’s about one’s overall quality of life.
Our lives are multi-faceted. Work is important, but there are so many other things outside of work that give our lives meaning and purpose – things like family, faith, community, and hobbies.
It goes without saying that these things require our time and energy. More often than not, work obligations get in the way, and our wellbeing suffers as a result.
Allowing for flexible working hours does two things. It empowers employees to alter their work habits to fit their family needs or to keep working on the projects that give their lives additional meaning. This results in a more healthy work-life balance that benefits everyone.
Perhaps more importantly, it sends a signal that you trust your employees. When you enable employees to set their own schedules as long as they hit deadlines and deliver results, they feel more like partners than corporate drones – and they’ll work that much harder for you.

12. Fight The Harmful Effects of Sedentary Lifestyles with Standing Desks.
Do you know that sitting is the new smoking?
It’s true. Sedentariness represents a grave threat to the health of millions of American office workers.
Don’t take it from us. According to the New York Times, “It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in cars, office chairs, or on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death.”
One way to offset the dangers of sitting too much is by… standing. Sitting is one of the most passive things you can do. By standing while you work, your body will burn energy as your leg, core, and back muscles tense to balance.
Many employers are put off by the cost of replacing existing desks with expensive standing ones.
Fortunately, Oristand has solved that problem with their totally functional, totally affordable cardboard standing desks. This simple yet sturdy design is only $25, and is used by more than 20,000 professionals across the world to decrease sedentariness and increase wellbeing.

Here’s what Mike Travers, Senior Benefits Consultant at full-service HR provider TriNet, has to say about the benefits of standing desks:

“Standing desks are great for when you’re stuck in a long meeting, for instance, as they may help you not to fall asleep.  Studies show that when you stand up, your body remains active and you reap the benefits of the extra metabolic functioning that can help reduce your chances of diabetes and heart disease.  Just think of the cost savings as well!
Some of those sit down chairs are very expensive.  If you have a phone job, you often project better over the telephone from a standing position rather than slouched in a chair.  There is also evidence that the more you sit, the greater your mortality risk! For me, that says it all.”

13. Focus on Personal Development.
No one wants a dead-end job.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Your employees – especially the younger folks in the group – crave progress. They need to feel like they are on a path that leads somewhere.
One way to ensure that your employees are learning and growing is by aiding their personal and professional development.
At SnackNation, we do this in a few ways. We have a personal development library, where all employees are encouraged to borrow books from an array of personal development titles.
We also have every employee complete IDPs – individual development plans. Employees develop goals and then work with managers to develop a path to achieving those goals. Monthly check-ins assure accountability.
Finally, we hold weekly “Sensei Sessions.” These are hour-long personal and professional development sessions led by senior leadership. It’s a great way to inspire your team and share knowledge and experience.
Here’s one of our Sensei Sessions presented by our Head of Sales. Kevin Dorsey:

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14. Allow Remote Days to Renew Focus and Remove Distractions.
Sometimes, you just need to change things up.
If it’s feasible, allow your employees to work from home or from an offsite location (like a coffee shop, park, or the beach) one day a week. Doing so allows for greater focus, and a change of scenery can inspire new ideas.

Additionally, this flexibility sends a signal that you trust your employees to be self-directed, and will result in greater emotional wellbeing and engagement.
We asked Erin McGinty, Director of Benefits Consulting at TriNet, to share her thoughts on why remote workdays can improve work-life balance for your team:

“One remote workday keeps the doctor away! Have you considered allowing your employees to work from home one day a week? Having this level of flexibility to be home to let the repair person in or to be there for that one day a week the kids have an early soccer game can help reduce stress on your employee and offer work-life harmony!
People who get to work at home on occasion are not only happier, they are less likely to resign and can also be more productive (think way less distractions from water cooler talk and avoiding that commute)!”

15. Encourage Bike to Work Days.
Biking to work is a great way to kill two birds with one stone – that is, knock out your commute and your exercise at the same time.
Plus, biking to work saves the planet… and gas money. It’s a win-win-win.

Need help convincing your company that biking is a viable option? Don’t go it alone. Enlist the help of The League of American Bicyclists, who raise awareness for National Bike to Work month, week, and day every May.
According to The League, 40% of most trips in the U.S. are two miles are less, making biking a viable transportation option in most instances. And while commutes are often a bit longer on average, you can combine public transit with cycling to make biking to work a reality. In fact, most major cities offer free rides for cyclists on public transportation during bike to work week.
You can also throw in some gamification here to add an extra layer of fun. My Virtual Mission allows you to create a long distance route from one location to another (i.e. Chicago to New York). See who can bike to the “finish line” first.

16. Extend Trust by Offering Unlimited Vacation.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Companies like GE, Netflix, Hubspot, and yes, SnackNation, are just a few who are hopping on the unlimited vacation trend.

If you answer emails after work, you should be getting unlimited vacation https://t.co/IgyQtc87vq
— Quartz (@qz)

Now, before you dismiss this outright, unlimited vacation doesn’t mean employees are free to collect a paycheck while they relax on a Mexican beach for six months out of the year.
In practice, unlimited vacation connects time off with results. The policy states that as long as you meet your deadlines, goals, and deliver results, you are free to take as much vacation as you want.
Unlimited vacation works because in emphasizing results, you again demonstrate that you trust your employees to do the right thing by their company and teams. Employees appreciate being treated like adults and are inspired to deliver outsized results in order to justify a little extra R&R.
It’s a win-win for the company and employee alike and results in a boosted sense of employee wellbeing.

17. Grant Sabbaticals to Celebrate Individuals and Reduce Burnout.
Sabbaticals work like this: after an employee reaches a certain tenure – usually 3-5 years at a company – he or she is eligible to take 6-8 weeks off to go on a trip, or work on a passion project or perform a public service at home. (The only thing that is off limits is sitting at home doing nothing!)
The idea is to embark on a journey that will be personally enriching, and that will yield new perspectives, new ideas, and new learnings that he or she can bring back to the company. The sabbatical will also help to prevent burnout for your employees that you value as important contributors when they return.

And before you assume 6-8 weeks is too long to be away from one’s job, consider that after 5 years, that represents a very small fraction of one’s total time at a company.

18. Give Unlimited Paternity/Maternity Leave.

Netflix made headlines this year when they announced they were offering unlimited paternity/maternity leave. Employees are free to take as much time in the first year after a child is born or adopted.
Compare this to existing federal law, which guarantees up to 12 weeks of parental leave, but only for companies with fifty or more employees.
The benefit here again is that it signals to your employees that you understand that their lives outside of work – particularly their family lives – are important.
This emotional connection helps to contribute to an overall greater sense of employee wellbeing.

19. The “Undercover Boss” Competition.
This fun idea also comes from the good people over at Sonic Boom:

“Ever dreamed of giving your boss a big ol’ pie to the face? Those dreams become reality for the Boomers at Sonic Boom Wellness during our “Undercover Boss” competitions.
With Undercover Boss, everyone participates under a secret identity – so no one knows who’s topping the leaderboards until the very end. And the reward for out-striding your boss during this three-week activity contest? Catapulting a whipped-cream-loaded pie straight into her/his face.
But beware! Your ‘punishment’ for being out-strided? The winning bosses get to randomly draw the name of a losing employee, and send that big-ol’ pie flying into their face.
In the most recent contest, our amazingly active accountant, Matt, out-strided our President, Bryan. The photo speaks for itself…”

20. Take the Vegan Challenge.
Eating vegan is not only compassionate but promotes healthy and mindful eating. The practice forces you to consider everything you put in your body and virtually eliminates mindless consumption.
Your team will be eating lighter, more nutritious foods, and will be properly fueled to take on challenges and perform at their peak.

Challenge your team to eat vegan for a week. Not only will your team be more focused and productive, you might be surprised by how many people stick with it.
If a week sounds like a stretch, start with 1 day and then keep extending the challenge timeline. If you want to take it up a notch, you can even try growing your own worksite garden. TotalWellness president Alan Kohll tells us:

“A worksite garden is an excellent opportunity to address a number of healthy habits. Gardens can help build fresh ideas, energy, teamwork, company morale, workplace relationships and friendships. It can also help you promote engagement in wellness activities by supplying healthy food for employees and physical activity breaks to work in the garden.
At our headquarters in Omaha, we have 15-beds filled with kale, carrots, peppers, squash, cucumbers and much more! The garden provides a means of physical activity and stress reduction, plus it increases access to fresh produce to our employees.”

21. Incentivize Preventative Care, Like Flu-Shots.
While this may not be the “sexiest” item on this list, one of the best ways to improve overall health in the office is to address potential illnesses before they happen.
Case in point? The flu.

Cold and flu season can decimate your office. Flu viruses spread during the winter months, and take hold when cold weather weakens our immune systems.
In total, cold and flu season costs our economy an estimated $40 billion every year in lost productivity due to illness.
One way to curb these losses? Incentivize flu shots. Offer a small cash bonus, gift card, or giveaway (like a stress ball, t-shirt, or mug) for employees who get the shot in October or November. Your company will more than cover their losses by avoiding mass absenteeism.

22. Urge Sick Employees to Stay Home.
While we’re on the topic of cold and flu season, let’s talk about another form of preventative care that is a lot easier than getting the flu shot…
Coming into work when you are sick seems to be popular these days.
The truth is, we all having demanding jobs and high expectations of ourselves. But when it comes to wellbeing and health, we take shortcuts.
Haven’t we all had the thought, “If I stay home sick today, will I jeopardize my opportunity to get that promotion?”
However, when you come to work sick, you not only prolong your recovery period, you also expose your coworkers to your bug.
An article in The New York Times, “If You’re Sick, Stay Away From Work“, explains that coming to work with the flu “can be deadly for others, especially pregnant women, young children and older people.  And no matter how many precautions you take, there’s no way to eliminate the risk to people around you.”
It may seem small, but we’ve all had the experience of not being able to shake that lingering head cold for two weeks, sometimes more.
It’s pretty hard to focus when you have to stop to blow your nose every 15 minutes or spend all afternoon asking around for cold medicine. No one is going to become employee of the month while pushing themselves through an illness. It is okay to be sick, but much better to be sick at home.
As a leader and culture carrier, it’s your responsibility to communicate that getting sick is not a sign of weakness and that it’s okay to work from home or take a day or two to fully recover.
What could be more important to the wellbeing of your employees than their health? It’s worth the OOO time.

23. Let Employees Set Their Own Goals and Work Strategies.
Most positions within your company probably come along with a detailed job description and a set of priority goals. Knowing how those pre-set goals advance the company mission will probably motivate employees to do their best work, but employees might feel even more motivated—and even more fulfilled—at work if you let them set some of their own goals and come up with their own strategies for fulfilling established objectives.

According to research from the University of Birmingham, Business School, high levels of workplace autonomy correlate with feelings of wellbeing and satisfaction. While workplace autonomy covers a range of factors besides setting goals, giving employees the freedom to creatively contribute is a solid wellbeing choice for companies who don’t have the option to offer things like flexible work hours.
To give employees more autonomy without the risk of undermining core company goals, create a structured plan for employee goal setting to ensure everyone gets something out of the process. Layout company-wide strategic objectives for your team members, but let them create their own plans for achieving those goals.

24. Set Up Volunteer Programs and Volunteering Days.
It can seem like the last thing anyone has time for in a busy workplace is volunteering. But as challenging as volunteering can be, the rewards far outweigh any potential downside. Volunteering benefits the mind, the community, and even the body. And we’re not just talking about vague warm fuzzy feelings; many studies have found scientific evidence that volunteering has psychological and physiological benefits. A range of studies incorporating a range of methods and focus areas suggest that:
By offering free days for volunteering and planning group volunteering activities, you’ll be giving employee wellbeing levels a major boost.
 
25. Renovate Your Office to Bring in More Natural Light.

Overhauling your office to let in a little more sunlight might seem like a frivolous endeavor, but a study from the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago (reported by Psychology Today) suggests it will pay off in the long run—in the form of increased employee wellbeing, happiness, and even job performance.
The study found that exposure to natural light affects workers’ quality of life, vitality, daytime function, and sleep. Researchers believe natural light influences so many aspects of our lives because it is the main cue guiding our circadian rhythms, our 24/7 natural clocks, sometimes called our sleep/wake cycles.
Employees feel the desire for natural light on a conscious level as well. According to a Leesman employee experience survey, 73.9% of employees find natural light important.
Here are some simple ways to bring more natural light into your office if you don’t have the budget for a complete overhaul:
Add mirrors to reflect the natural light you already get.
Use transparent or semitransparent partitions instead of solid ones.
Replace solid doors and cubicle walls with transparent or semitransparent ones.
Remove any large objects obstructing light coming in from windows. You can shift desks, bookshelves, and filing cabinets—anything that’s stopping natural light.
Redistribute office space to seat several employees (instead of just one executive) in an office with a window.
 
26. Promote Mental Health Awareness and Counseling.
As we mentioned earlier, the best estimates from the World Health Organization say over 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It’s fairly safe to guess that in almost any workplace, you’ll find at least a few employees who suffer from depression or depressive episodes. People often let depression go untreated because of social taboos, lack of understanding, and unfamiliarity with treatment options.

Among other problems, depression wreaks havoc on a person’s sense of wellness, engagement with the world, and motivation at work. However, if treatment options were better broadcast and more readily available, many people who need help might just take the plunge.
Your company can join the fight against depression by offering mental health awareness programs and counseling or simply promoting the options available from your healthcare provider. Work with Human Resources to invite a representative from your insurance company to give a talk about mental health options and go from there. Even a small mention of mental health options on the monthly company newsletter could be just the boost someone needs to seek help.
Conclusion
What about you? What are the benefits of employee wellbeing in your eyes, and what do your companies do to ensure that wellbeing is a priority? Let us know in the comments below!

Employee Wellness Resources:
121 Employee Wellness Program Ideas Your Team Will Love
6 Easy Ways How To Reduce Stress at Work (And Be Happy)
45 Successful Corporate Wellness Programs Employees Will Love
42 Corporate Wellness Companies That Are Transforming Workplace Health and Happiness
13 Easy Ways to Create a Zen Office Space On a Budget
How to Create a Killer Office Fitness Challenge
25 Office Exercises: Easy Desk-Friendly Ways to Get Fit
11 Data-Backed Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs You Need to Know About
Everything You Need to Launch a Kick-Ass Employee Wellness Survey
9 Simple Hacks to Stay Healthy at Work
What Is An Employee Wellness Program?

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18 Proven Ways to Improve Employee Satisfaction and Create an Awesome Office in 2021

What’s Your favorite Way to Improve Employee Satisfaction?

How many times have you heard a manager or executive say this:
“It’s called work for a reason.”
For too long, this was the standard response when business leaders were forced to confront the subject of employee satisfaction.
This statement carries a troubling implication. The subtext here is that work shouldn’t be enjoyable. Work, by this definition, is arduous, punishing, and drains us of our joy and energy.
Until recently, we’ve lived in a society that accepted job dissatisfaction as a fact of life. The prevailing norm is that work is just the thing we suffer through in order to make the good things in life possible. 
There’s an obvious problem here: we spend the vast majority of our lives working.
If work is the thing we must suffer through, this means we also spend the vast majority of our lives suffering. (Thoreau’s quote about the masses leading “lives of quiet desperation” seems appropriate here.)
Fortunately, things are changing.
Ushered by a new era of progressive leaders and companies, and a workforce increasingly made up of Millennial workers, expectations have shifted.
These days, the importance of employee satisfaction is undeniable and it impacts your organization in critical ways – everything from your ability to attract and retain talent to the quality of your product and customer service – and is now a major determining factor in the overall success of your business.
How to properly measure and improve employee satisfaction can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve put together this cheat sheet with the 18 best ways to improve employee satisfaction at your company.
Let’s get started!

1) Give Them A Place To Engage With Each Other

Improving employee satisfaction isn’t a magic cure-all, but it can have some pretty miraculous effects on your organization. A happy, engaged and motivated employee works towards the betterment of the organization which can have a ripple effect on the rest of your employee workforce.
One of the most effective ways to gauge employee satisfaction at both an individual employee level and a team level, is to put in the framework that fosters and tracks engagement within your organization.
Xoxoday Empuls is a central platform for employees to align and share important information on an attractive and easy-to-use dashboard. As an engagement platform for the modern company, Empuls will help to make employee news, manager communication, and employee recognition, a fixture at your company. If you would like to learn more, you can book a free demo here.
With today’s workforce embracing remote work, employee feedback is even more important. You can’t walk down the hall and check in on every member of your team and see how satisfied they are. Providing an engagement platform, such as Empuls, can go a long way to build up those bonds that are so critical to company success. 

2) Listen 

It seems simple, but so many companies overlook this critical step.
Before you can begin to address the problem of employee satisfaction, you have to measure the extent of the problem, and the only way to do this is by listening.
Survey your employees. Have them rate their general satisfaction on a scale of 1-10. Ask if they’re learning and growing, if their work is fulfilling, if they feel like they’re contributing and that their work has a sense of purpose.
Here are just a few sample survey questions to help gauge employee satisfaction:
Do you feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things?
Does your work give you a feeling of personal accomplishment?
Do you have the tools and resources to do your job well?
Fortunately, there are plenty of great tools to make this process a snap.
Two of our favorites are Bonusly and Nectar, software that makes it incredibly easy to survey your organization and gauge employee sentiment about anything under the sun.
Both Bonusly and Nectar provide crucial insights into the state of employee satisfaction, and can help lead you to solutions that will help boost satisfaction and elevate your company.
3) Reward Employees for Big Wins

Remember that quote from the beginning of this post? Well, the same people who believe that “it’s called work a reason” probably believe this lie as well –
“Why should I reward employees for doing their job? Isn’t that what their paycheck is for?”
Again, the implications here are cause for concern, and the effects are detrimental.
Motivating your employees for big wins – like hitting key milestones or goals – helps spread goodwill and creates a shared sense of accomplishment and accountability.
So when your team hits that sales number, decreases churn, or makes their projected revenue target, celebrate.
Celebrate big wins with branded swag from Swag.com. They offer an exhaustive range of desirable products, so you’re sure to find something to celebrate any occasion. Plus, you can customize your selections with your own designs.

If you want to go the experiential route, give them an offsite, a beach or hiking day, or treat them to a party in the office. It’s a signal that leadership recognizes their efforts and will do wonders for satisfaction.  Here’s a list of 121 creative ways to reward employees if you need some ideas.
4) Communicate Frequently and Authentically  

Your duty to communicate doesn’t stop after your employee satisfaction survey. Frequent, consistent, and above all, authentic communication is a necessary ingredient for employee satisfaction.
Communication doesn’t have to be a big production. A thoughtful, well written weekly email from your CEO can have an outsized impact on morale.
Ask yourself this – when was the last time your entire organization was in the same place at the same time? For large companies, or companies with satellite offices or remote employees, the answer might be never (and that’s a problem).
Hold monthly (or better yet, weekly) all-hands meetings, where the entire company has the opportunity to come together, receive company updates, and ask questions of senior leadership.
Remember that communication is a two-way street, it is as much about listening as it is disseminating.
Most importantly, communicate authentically. This means acknowledging failures as well as successes. Don’t underestimate your employees. They’re smart, and can smell dishonesty a mile away.
Be true to your personality and your mission as a leader in the tone and tenor of your communication, and don’t shy away from the truth, even when times are tough. Your employees will respect you for it.  
5) Prioritize Employee Health & Wellness

What are you doing right now? Are you sitting or standing?
If you’re reading this at work, odds are… you’re sitting.
Think about how much you sit during the day – in your car on the way to work, at your desk for hours at a time, on your couch as you unwind after a stressful day in front of The Bachelor. (Don’t lie, you love that show too.)  
The sedentary nature of office life is having a deleterious effect on our health, and contributing to depressed moods, employee burnout, and dissatisfaction.
Luckily, there are countless cost-effective solutions. Encourage employees to get up and stretch or go for a noontime stroll. Come up with “deskercises” – simple exercises you can do at your desk or in common areas. 
Here’s a simple tactic from leading skincare brand Murad – with a little paint, the company created a “walking track” in their new Los Angeles HQ to encourage employees to take walking meetings throughout the workday.
On the same token, access to nutritious meals and snacks is essential to boosting employee satisfaction by paying attention to their health. Let’s face it, the typical snacks found in vending machine break rooms are loaded with sugar and empty calories.
They make employees sluggish, irritable, and contribute to metabolic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and even high blood pressure and heart disease.
SnackNation’s healthy snack delivery service for offices makes it easy to provide delicious snacks your employees will love. The snacks are always healthy and always tasty.

6) Define Your Mission
In his pivotal book Drive, author and speaker Daniel Pink outlines three main drivers that motivate human behavior – autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

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Pink lays out why human beings have an inherent need to know that their work matters, that their work isn’t all for naught. Without a strong sense of purpose, your employees will be left feeling empty and dissatisfied.
Unlock the motivating potential of purpose by defining your company’s mission, and codifying them in core values.
Remember, your mission isn’t your revenue target, your sales numbers, or other KPIs, it’s much bigger than that. It’s the thing you do that makes a difference.
As a leader, think about what inspires you most, the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning.
That’s your mission.
Now take that mission and make it a part of your company’s culture. Make sure every employee knows the answer to the question, “Why do we do what we do?”
7) Set Goals

Now that you have your mission, help your employees map their work back to it by setting motivating stretch goals.
Goals help ensure that your employees’ efforts are constantly aligned with company missions, and everyone employee knows how he or she is contributing.
When people think their efforts don’t matter or don’t move the needle, dissatisfaction is inevitable. Avoid this trap by defining your mission and helping employees set goals that move your company closer to achieving that mission with every small win.
8) Focus on Growth and Development

Let’s go back to Mr. Pink and the three motivating factors from Drive.
Mastery is our hidden desire to become experts in our field. We receive satisfaction, Pink argues, from tackling challenges, mastering difficult tasks, and elevating our skill sets and proficiencies.
In order to do this, you have to provide opportunities for your employees to grow. This means both educational opportunities
In addition to expensive (but worthy) programs like subsidized education, there are a number of affordable ways to promote growth and development. You can start an office book club (something we just launched at SnackNation), or set aside time for employees to attend webinars or conferences. Start a mentorship program, in which junior team members shadow
We believe so much in growth and development, that SnackNation has a weekly personal development program called the Sensei Session, where company leaders present educational materials to the entire company. It’s a way to give employees additional tools to their jobs, and to grow as individuals and professionals.
By failing to provide opportunities for growth and development, you risk employees feeling like they aren’t making progress as professionals, which leads to dissatisfaction and burnout.
9) Break Up Routines
The benefits of routines are well documented. When you do the same things every day or every week, you don’t need to waste time thinking about them.
A set routine allows us to limit the number of choices we make each day, and save our precious decision-making mental energy for the most important choices. (This is why Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein famously wore the same outfit everyday, a tactic recently adopted by President Obama.)
But routines have a downside as well. As much as they help alleviate decision fatigue, they can also create a feeling of boredom or malaise that leads to employee dissatisfaction.

The remedy is simple – break up the routine!
Break your team members out of their rut by surprising with a random half day, or plan a team building offsite.

(SnackNation offsite in Venice, CA)

If the weather is nice and your wifi signal is strong, invite your team to work outside for the day. Simple (and free) things like changing up the environment can do wonders to break up stultifying routines.
Or kill two birds with one stone by scheduling group fitness activities – like bootcamp or yoga – at the end of the workday.
One of our amazing Snack Ambassadors, Kelsey Cook, is a certified yoga instructor, and holds classes at the end of the day every other week. Ending the day with a few chaturangas or warrior poses is a great way to break out of the daily grind.
10) Play Music
If you’ve ever doubted the power of music to set a mood or provide atmosphere, try watching your favorite movie without the music.
This clip of Pirates of the Caribbean with different scores illustrates the point perfectly:

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Music has an uncanny ability to prime our emotions. Playing music is an easy way to set the tone for your office, and to put your workforce in the right mood and mindset to get things done.
Bonus benefit – studies have shown that the elevated mood that music gives us also makes us more productive. Play music without lyrics (like classical or ambient music) to allow for greater focus.
The Vitamin String Quartet has literally hundreds of instrumental renditions of popular songs available for streaming on Spotify and Pandora.
11) Give All Employees the Opportunity to Shine
Each month at SnackNation, we open up our Sensei Session program to all employees. This means that anyone in the company can present on a topic of their choice to the entire organization, usually related to business or personal development.
Since teaching is one of the best forms of learning, the benefit is twofold – the organization learns something valuable and new, and the presenter has the opportunity to become a better public speaker and an expert on that particular topic.
Some of our best presentations have been from our more introverted team members, people who had a lot to say but didn’t necessarily have the confidence or the forum to say it yet. Sensei gives all employees a platform to demonstrate their passion and expertise.
Plus, some of our Senseis have really gotten into character and given us some really fun moments:

12) Encourage Time for Passion Projects
This key factor comes from our friends at Digital Exits. Your workers don’t want to be doing business as usual. They want to innovate… so let them! One way to do this is give your employees time for passion projects.

Google’s famous “20% time” is a great example of this. The company permitted employees to spend up to 20% of their time – or one day a week – working on a project that wasn’t related to their goals, but about which they were passionate. The results – products like Gmail – speak for themselves.
Doing so gives your employees an outlet to be creative – and one that might benefit your business in the long run.
13) Challenge Your Team
Similar to growth, employees won’t feel satisfied unless they’re challenged. No employee wants to feel like their unique ability isn’t being utilized, or that they aren’t living up to their professional potential.
Think of your team like a muscle – without the stress and discomfort of working out, your muscles won’t grow.
Your employees are the same way. 15five CEO David Hassell made a similar point in a recent interview on the Awesome Office podcast.

On the show, David distinguished between two types of stress: eustress (the good, motivating kind) and distress (the bad, debilitating kind). While distress is harmful, eustress is actually necessary in order for employees to experience breakthroughs. And without those breakthroughs, your employees won’t be satisfied.
One of our core values at SnackNation is to crave and devour challenges, and it’s something we actually look for during the interview process.
Part of this is getting to know individual team members. Sit with them, take them to lunch and learn their personal goals and aspirations, their unique ability. You’ll be better equipped to give them the right tasks to challenge and motivate them.
When it comes to challenges, you don’t have to think long term. While challenges do help align employee efforts to the company’s mission, you can create daily or weekly challenge that focus employee energy and give them a satisfying, short-term push.
Create weekly team challenges, and make them fun.
If you lead a sales team, challenge them to hit a weekly total that’s 5% higher than their previous best week. Reward them with a half day if they hit it.
The point is, challenge them to go beyond what they thought they were capable of, keep them engaged and mindful. The results will speak for themselves.

14) Celebrate Milestones
In order to be satisfied at work, employees need to feel appreciated. One way to do that is by celebrating work anniversaries.
Again, there are plenty of ways to do this that won’t break the bank. After the first year, reward employees with movie tickets, gift cards, or a bottle of their favorite adult beverage.
For longer tenures, retire employees’ “jersey” in the rafters at year five, or create a wall of fame and hang their picture to recognize their commitment and achievements.
Game developer Scopely is famous for their off-the-wall anniversary gifts. Employees are presented with engraved Samurai swords and custom oil portraits to commemorate major anniversaries.
Online streaming platform Hulu gives things a more sentimental touch. The company celebrates 5 year “Huluversaries” by presenting employees (aka “Hulugans”) with an engraved wooden box filled with handwritten notes from colleagues, as well as a custom cake… with the employee’s face printed on it.

(Note: This option only works for companies whose employees don’t mind eating their own face.)
Need another reason to celebrate anniversaries? Studies show that employees are more likely to leave your company at the end of yearly internals. By communicating your appreciation during these anniversaries, they’ll be less likely to look for outside opportunities.
15) Set Employees Up for Success

While you want to challenge your employees, you also don’t want to set them up for failure. That’s a surefire recipe for a disgruntled staff.
Balancing these competing imperatives can be tough. To do this, set ambitious but achievable goals.
Give challenging but reasonable deadlines. And most importantly, give your employees the tools they need to succeed. Yes, you can and should demand excellence from your employees. But don’t expect super human results.
In other words, if you want your employees to build a house, don’t give them lincoln logs.
Likewise, set clear, measurable targets, nothing vague. It should be black and white whether an employee achieved his or her goal. If you’re a marketer, for instance, your goal shouldn’t to “elevate the brand,” your goal should be to “increase the number of leads by X%.”
You have to set your employees up for success, or they won’t be successful. It’s as simple as that.
16) Facilitate Friendships

Undoubtedly there’s an emotional factor involved in employee satisfaction. Employees need to feel appreciated, cared for, supported, and like they’re progressing.
Friendships at work amplify the emotional element in the workplace, and boost satisfaction. When there’s a personal connection between colleagues, you’re more willing to sacrifice for your team, and work just becomes more enjoyable.
We’ve all had jobs where coming in to the office felt like a chore, but when you work with smart, hard working, dependable people who also happen to be your friends (Marketing Squad, aka “Silent Thunder,” I’m looking at you), you actually look forward to coming in every day.
Many companies have a “no a-hole” policy, meaning they won’t hire people who don’t work well with others.
Zappos is famous for integrating socializing into the interview process. Their rationale is that if they don’t jive well with a candidate in a social setting, that person won’t be a fit for the company’s relaxed, joy-driven culture, where friendship between co-workers is the norm.
Of course, you can’t force employees to become friends. But what you can do is facilitate the opportunity for employees to make personal connections with their colleagues by setting aside work time for socializing.
You’ll be surprised how a keg of beer and a tray of healthy snacks can bring people together and allow them to drop their professional guard long enough to find common ground on a personal level.
17) Cultivate Amazing Managers

Managers have more impact on employee satisfaction than anyone else – not even the CEO.
Think about it – in most companies (especially larger ones), your average employee makes daily contact with their direct manager, and may rarely interact with the CEO. The manager’s style and personality have a huge impact on employee mood. If style’s clash, this can rapidly lead to dissatisfaction. 
Not unlike Ron Burgundy, good managers are kind of a big deal. So why do so many companies suffer from mediocre management?
Too often, decision makers at companies equate success in a role with managerial potential, and automatically promote top performers to management. But managing people is its own animal entirely, and the transition isn’t always a smooth one.
Managing people requires serious emotional intelligence, empathy, time management skills, and communication chops.
While there might be “natural born leaders,” managing people isn’t a gift that you’re either born with or you’re not. It’s a set of skills, and therefore can be taught, learned, and perfected.
So select your employees for management positions who demonstrate a knack for communication or empathy, and teach them the rest. Their direct reports will be more satisfied in the long run.
18) Give Back
Purpose has been major theme thus far. In order to feel satisfied at work, employees – especially younger ones – need to know that they are working for something more than a paycheck.
And as we pointed out in the beginning of this post, we spend a major portion of our waking hours at work. Over the course of our lives, that’s a lot of time, effort, and energy. Employees want to know that it’s time well spent.
And yes, your employees are compensated for their time, but the fact remains that for the most part, everyone has a choice about where they work.
By working at your company, your employees are choosing to spend their most precious resource – their time – with you to help your company achieve its goals. By creating opportunities to give back, you’re acknowledging this sacrifice, and connecting your mission to something greater.
So organize volunteer days, like beach cleanups or service in food kitchens or homeless shelters. Donate to a charity – or better yet, start a charity. By doing so, your employees will feel like the time they’ve invested in you is meaningful.  

Electronic invitations company Greenvelope on a team volunteering outing

Ideally, you want to align your charitable activities with your mission.
At SnackNation, our mission is to help create Awesome Offices across the country, places that maximize productivity, engagement, and joy, where individuals can do the best work of their careers and where companies can solve the big problems that need our attention.
We firmly believe that nutrition is a key piece of this puzzle, and that by providing healthy snacks where people spend the majority of their time (at work), we can improve the health, wellness, and quality of life for potentially millions of people.
Beyond that, we know that many Americans suffer from food insecurity. So we work with an amazing non profit called Feeding America to provide meals for families suffering from hunger. It’s a cause close to our hearts, and one that gives our employees a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Conclusion
As you can see, there’s no shortage of simple, inexpensive, and effective ways to ensure that your employees are satisfied and productive. It all comes down to challenging your employees, creating a sense of purpose, giving them room to grow, and setting them up for success.
What do you do at your company to ensure employees are satisfied? Let us know in the comments below.
People Also Ask These Questions About Improving Employee Satisfaction
Q: What’s your favorite way to improve employee satisfaction?
A: While there are a number of strategies to improving employee satisfaction at your organization, our readers voted on the following ways and the results concluded:
Start By Listening 26.15%
Give All Employees the Opportunity to Shine 18.4%
Reward Employees for Big Wins 17.43%
Focus on Growth and Development 12.35%
Prioritize Employee Health & Wellness 10.65%

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How to Create a Killer Office Fitness Challenge in 2021

Employee fitness equals free money for your company.
Sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Organizations who invest in health and wellness actually save money by reducing healthcare costs and curbing lost productivity due to absenteeism. An office wellness challenge can get your team working towards their fitness goals together and build camaraderie along the way!

The Harvard Business Review found that employers who invested in comprehensive health and wellness initiatives saw a nearly 3-to-1 return in money saved. A more focused study demonstrated that ROI was closer to 6-to-1.
That’s some serious ROI.
Fitness challenges can be a great way to get your employees excited about wellness. In fact, an office fitness challenge can be the cornerstone of a comprehensive wellness program – but only if it’s done right.
You see, it’s not as easy as sending a mass email about an upcoming 5k and calling it a day. Fitness challenges have to be engaging. The last thing you want is to invest your time, money, and energy in a fitness challenge that gets zero participation.
So stick with us. We’ll help you design a fitness challenge that your employees will rave about.
And since budget is always a factor, all the tactical advice we provide is budget friendly. Here’s how to create a killer fitness challenge, whether you’ve got an Amazonian budget…or something a bit more modest.
Tip: Did you know that companies that have sent their employees working-from-home a care package during the pandemic saw a boost to virtual employee engagement and productivity projections by as much as 17%? Cure burnout and reinvigorate your remote employees with a WFH Wellness Box today!

Table of Contents

Tip 1: Incentivize Participation
Let’s be honest, getting people to participate in a wellness challenge is like wrestling an alligator at midnight – the odds are stacked against you. Gallup found that only 24% of employees typically participate in wellness initiatives.
New research shows that employees are 33 times more likely to get involved when there are financial incentives. Nectar’s employee recognition and rewards platform allows companies to create wellness challenges that are tied to rewards like gift cards or company swag. This automates the process of creating, promoting and incentivizing wellness challenges.

Action step: Offer non-cash incentives
Studies have found that non-cash incentives like gift cards significantly increase wellness challenge participation rates. Take advantage of a tool like Nectar to simplify the delivery of these types of rewards, regardless of where your employees are participating from.

Tip 2: Do Not Rely on a One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Just as you can’t mandate participation, you can’t rely on a one-size fits all approach.
Think about it – your employees are diverse! You likely have employees of varying ages, fitness levels, and physical abilities, so you’ll need to bake in some flexibility as you design your challenge.
Take us for example. At SnackNation, we have team members who regularly compete in Ironman Competitions. We also have employees who haven’t stepped foot in gym in years (and the thought of doing so scares me a little… I mean them. Scares them a little).
Keep in mind, the point isn’t to cater to those you are already active. It’s much more important to motivate those for whom fitness isn’t all that high on their priority list. That’s where your plan will have the biggest impact.
Action Step: Create Options
Employee wellbeing shouldn’t be limited to just physical activity. Sonic Boom Wellness allows its members to create fully customizable challenges with topics that are relevant to their personal interests/needs – popular themes include optimal nutrition, stress reduction, weight management, financial wellbeing, resilience, sleep improvement, safety, tobacco cessation, and social causes… but the possibilities are endless!

Tip 3: Set a BHAG
If you speak jargon, you might know that the acronym BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It’s usually used to describe a company’s big business or philanthropic goals, but the term is just as relevant for your workplace fitness challenge.
By definition, a BHAG is a stretch goal. It’s something that’s beyond your team’s current capabilities and that will require them to grow as individuals and break through their perceived limitations.

The best way to do this shoot is for something a little daunting, something just beyond what they think they’re capable of reaching.
Action Step: Make Your BHAG Tangible
When we launched a company-wide fitness challenge at SnackNation, our BHAG was walking from San Francisco to LA in a month (virtually of course). This was our big, motivating group challenge.
We deliberately chose a goal that team members could visualize, rather than an abstract goal like “walk 400 miles.”

Tip 4: Gamify
Gamification involves introducing elements of gameplay into your challenge. Most commonly, this means creating badges or rewards that team members unlock by hitting milestones.
Game mechanics are highly motivating. They play on our psychological need for status and achievement. You’ll find that gamification is a great way to unlock the spirit of friendly competition and increase participation company-wide.
Action Step: Get Creative With It!
While most wellness vendors rely on the relatively simplistic “Most Steps Wins” type of contest, Sonic Boom offers stimulating gaming mechanics like “Get kicked off an island if you don’t hit a goal,” or “The entire company/division must meet a goal (or get X% participation) in order for the CEO to donate $10,000 to charity.” People these days have short attention spans and appreciate variety, so consistent innovation is key if you want your programs to stay fresh and engaging.

Tip 5: Track Your Progress
If you’re going to shoot for a goal, you’re going to need a way to measure your progress on your way there.
At SnackNation, we provided Jawbone fitness trackers to track our steps. This was hugely popular and provided an easy way to accurately record progress towards our BHAG. (You can often negotiate bulk deals on fitness trackers for your company.)
Haslett Express, a logistics company in Chicago, held a similar walking challenge. (In fact, ours was modeled after their walk from Chicago to LA challenge!)
Instead of fitness trackers, they had their in-house development team create a custom portal where employees could enter any type of physical activity (whether it be swimming, biking, or yoga) and it would convert it into the equivalent number of steps.
Of course, if supplying fitness trackers to your entire team isn’t realistic, track progress in a shared excel document. It doesn’t have to be high tech! It just has to be readily accessible to your entire team. (Try one of these templates from MUO).
Action Step: Create a Leaderboard
Use a rolling whiteboard – or better yet, convert a wall in your office into a whiteboard with whiteboard paint – to display group progress and individual challenge leaders. The daily reminders will continually motivate your team to compete.

Tip 6: Take a Grassroots Approach
Yes, buy-in from executive leadership is a must, but you can’t take a top-down approach to fitness challenges. A mandated wellness program simply won’t work.
Mandated wellness programs simply don’t work. Click To Tweet
A grassroots approach works best. In practical terms, this means your fitness challenge must be employee-led.
It all starts with listening. Find activities that the majority of your team already enjoy, or are interested in trying out.
This might be something as challenging as a marathon, or it might be something as simple as yoga or Pilates. It might even be something exotic like rock climbing or surfing. (Side note, climbing is all the rage at SnackNation these days.) You won’t know until you ask.

Action Step – Create an Employee Fitness Panel
Create a panel of employee leaders and find out what fitness activities interest them.
Identify your team’s most passionate fitness advocates from across your org and empower them to drive the information gathering that will help inform your plan.
You’ll be much more likely to come up with something that has widespread appeal.

Tip 7: Use the Fitness Challenge as a Kickoff to Larger Wellness Initiatives
The beauty of fitness challenges is that when done right, they’re a ton of fun. They create opportunities for your team to bond and energize them around physical well being.
To really maximize the value of fitness challenges, use their momentum to increase participation in a larger wellness program that includes access to healthy food, information on medical screenings, education on mental health and productivity, and other initiatives that support wellbeing.
Action Step: Demonstrate Individual ROI
Before your fitness challenge ends and all the rewards are handed out, make sure you collect data on how your team is feeling.
Some might be feeling more energized and productive. Others might have undergone physical transformations and lost weight!
Collect the data and present it to your team as a recap. Help connect the dots between this activity and more investment in their own health and wellbeing via the additional programs you’re offering.

What Is A Realistic Fitness Challenge Launch Timeline?
Week 1 – Convene your wellness panel. Determine what activities your team already enjoys or might be interested in trying. Make sure there is adequate choice to maximize participation.
Week 2 – Once the activity is determined, it’s time to design the challenge. Determine a BHAG that’s tangible, not abstract. Create rewards and incentives both on an individual and team level to foster some healthy competition. Make sure to also incorporate a feedback mechanism.
Week 3 – Paint a wall in your common area with whiteboard paint. This will be your leaderboard. Buy trophies or badges to reward employees for hitting milestones.
Week 4 – Launch! Get your team psyched. Make sure you have buy-in from executive leaders and managers – without their participation, your team might not take it seriously.

Free bonus: Revive your wellness program by downloading our Ultimate List of 121 Wellness Program Ideas. Easily save it on your computer for quick reference or print it for your company’s next Wellness Meeting. Includes 10 bonus ideas you can’t find on the blog.
Employee Wellness Resources:

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Episode 145 | How Recess Is Building the Redbull of CBD, with Recess founder & CEO Benjamin Witte

Last Updated on July 27, 2020
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Recess is a CBD beverage brand that almost never talks about CBD.
How is this possible? Because founder and CEO Benjamin Witte knows that the best beverage brands don’t focus on an ingredient… they convey a feeling. 
Case in point: Redbull. You may have noticed that with all their talk of energy, action sports, and giving you “wings,” Redbull never mentions caffeine. Because in the beverage space, the feeling is more powerful than the ingredient.
So why should the CBD category be any different? 
Founded in 2017, Recess is a consumer wellness brand creating products and experiences designed to help people feel balanced, centered, and inspired so they can be their most productive and creative selves. They make sparkling water infused with calming hemp extract and adaptogens for balance and clarity.
Benjamin and the Recess team have their sights set on becoming the next Redbull. To do that, they’re building their brand around the feeling of calm and tranquility – aka, “taking a recess.” 
Recess also recently did something pretty unexpected – they launched an apparel collection called “Reality Wear.” In this episode, you’ll learn how this all ties back to Ben’s philosophy on brand marketing. 
On top of that, you’ll learn what every CPG brand should borrow from Silicon Valley, and why the era of building a brand by doing demos in Wegman’s is over (plus what to do instead). 
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Brand Builder is a co-production of SnackNation and ForceBrands.

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