5 employee wellbeing initiatives that cost nothing to implement

The stats around the value of healthy employees are now firmly established.

  • 83% of workers feel that their wellbeing influences their productivity
  • Employees who exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week, are 15% more likely to have higher job performance
  • 33% of adults feel their wellbeing has been a contributing factor in a decision to leave their job

Yet as familiar as these proof points are, health and wellbeing spend is consistently first to go when companies cut back. At Threshold we don’t believe employee wellbeing needs to be expensive and we’ve implemented 5 simple steps for a zero cost plan to keep minds and bodies in shape.

1. Walking meetings: Cost £0


Nobody is at their best sat still at a desk all day. The mid-afternoon slump is a metaphorical killer, and if your team keep trying to offset it with a sugar hit it can become a literal one to.

Getting moving for all or part of a meeting is a proven way of getting the mind firing at its best again. The science is that your foot’s impact during walking sends pressure waves through the arteries that significantly increase the supply of blood to the brain, but it goes further than that. Even your position, facing in the same direction as who you are walking with, is proven to help align your thinking and can overcome conflict.

Of course, if you’ve got 40 slides of financial data to cover off it is trickier, but even just the first ten minutes of a meeting can reinvigorate you. In our experience meetings become shorter and more productive with more incisive thinking and creativity from the offset.

2. Taking on a challenge to raise money for charity: Cost £0

Lots of companies will make a pledge to raise thousands of pounds for a charity of the year, but then don’t have a plan to actually raise the money. Cue the bake sale, and soon afterwards the question about how you will make up the remaining £49,000 target.

There are incredible fundraising challenges in the UK to suit all shapes and sizes. Deloitte Ride Across Britain sees people raising a record breaking average of £3.6k as they pedal from Land’s End to John O’Groats and the Threshold Trail Series events see people walk, jog or run up to 100km along National Trails raising an average of over £600pp.

But it’s not just the fundraising. The Heads Together London Marathon campaign showed just how powerful working towards a goal can be for improving mental health and resilience.

Entering these events can cost as little as £40 per person, but many charities will even cover this fee if you underwrite the fundraising totals. Thecost to you is zero.

3. Cycle to work scheme: Cost: Savings on your NI bill

Cycling is no longer the preserve of the MAMIL. The big growth is now in commuters; in particular, with women. It is the perfect cheap and healthy way to get around and get some exercise in without spending on a gym membership.

There is a kit and equipment cost, but with a cycle to work to scheme anyone can get a bike, helmet, lock and lights at a massive discount. Furthermore as an employer you will save the National Insurance due on any amounts put through the scheme meaning an immediate saving to the bottom line.

All the productivity benefits of a fitter and healthier employee whilst saving money on your tax bill.

4. Employee led exercise sessions: Cost £0


A primary reason people sign up to costly gym classes is the motivation that comes with being part of a group. If you are a company of more than one person, you have all that you need.

There are plenty of high quality online workouts and training plans available for everything from losing weight to preparing for your first 10km. Armed with an enthusiastic team member, a small amount of space and a workout plan to suit your audience you have everything you need for a healthier and more engaged workforce.

It can be before, during or after work hours. It can be indoors or outdoors. All you need is for a group of you to commit to a plan and you’re away. We started doing this as another way of avoiding the 4pm slump using the Seven app. We gather round, choose the workout and off you go in your regular clothes. Beyond getting the heart rates up, the most reassuring thing is that it almost always descends into laughter. It’s not about pushing your limits. It’s also about leaving the screen and interacting with one another for a moment… sometimes whilst contorting yourself into a sun salutation or commando plank.

5. Peer recognition: Cost £0

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is often overlooked and needs to led from the front. If you want to implement these changes then recognise the efforts of those who are driving it. It doesn’t need to be pay-rises or lavish gifts. A simple act of applause, gold stars or acknowledgement in a company meeting goes a long way to establishing the right behaviour.

Don’t worry, there is still room for cake

Now I wouldn’t want you to think Threshold is a zen temple of wellbeing fuelled only by quinoa and distilled water. We have just as much, or perhaps even more, home baking than other offices and when we are busy we can still find ourselves letting good intentions slip. But the barrier isn’t funding. It’s motivation. And the best way of overcoming this? Publicly commit as a team that you want to make the change and then measure yourself against it.

If you hit the objectives then mark the moment and celebrate in the way your team will appreciate most, even if that is a magnum of Prosecco. You will have earned it.

If you would like to speak to Threshold about your own employee health and wellbeing plans or entering some events to raise money for charities then get in touch.