How to Start a 2024 Employee Health Program on a Budget

On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation, employers are paying closer attention than ever to employee health and happiness. An employee health program (aka workplace wellness program) is one of the best ways to look after both — but did you know that it can also improve your company’s bottom line, even on a tight budget?

Coworkers discussing an employee health programResearch reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows wellness programs reduce sick leave absenteeism by 27% and healthcare costs by 26%, indicating an overall boost to employee health. Mercer’s 2017 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans also found that health-focused companies (those with five or more “well-being best practices”) have 11% lower employee turnover than their peers. That’s a big deal: In 2022, it cost roughly $4,700 to hire a new employee according to Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) data. You don’t want to flush that down the drain!

It’s clear that healthy employees can reduce costs. Still, you likely need to implement your employee health program on a strict budget. Here are some steps to help you get started.

Step 1: Research and Identify Employee Health Needs

Before jumping into your wellness plan, survey your company’s employees to see what kind of employee health programs they actually want and see value in. Here are a few budget-friendly wellness ideas that you could include in your survey. 

Healthy Eating

  • Make healthy snacks available in common areas to encourage healthy eating. Not only can this improve mood and aid in weight control, but it can also boost energy and potentially productivity. Placing bowls of apples, bananas, and other seasonal fruits like peaches, berries, and grapes around the office will give employees accessible, healthy options. You can also keep snacking veggies like baby carrots and cherry tomatoes in the fridge. It’s easy to order seasonal produce and schedule weekly or daily deliveries with The FruitGuys.
  • Offer periodic healthy lunches. This is another way to influence your employees’ food choices. Free food that’s nutritious and delicious? That’s a winning formula for employee health!
  • Hold a monthly healthy potluck where everyone brings in a dish of their choice. Use a sign-up sheet in the break room to allow people to indicate what they’re bringing, so there’s no overlap.
  • Provide nutritional education in the form of online or printed materials. This can help them keep their nutrition on track. 
  • Send out a weekly or monthly workplace wellness newsletter filled with tips and recipes.


  • Walking meeting for employee healthPartner with a gym to give employees free or subsidized gym memberships, or offer incentives like cash/gift cards to employees who participate in a weight loss program.
  • Provide on-site fitness classes, like aerobics or Zumba, to make exercise easy and accessible.
  • Organize a walking club that meets before or after work.
  • Host an employee health fair and invite companies and organizations such as health food stores, sporting goods stores, chiropractors, personal trainers, and hospitals to offer goodies and activities on the spot (massages, screenings, etc.).
  • Get creative — have walking meetings instead of seated ones, and host fun office fitness challenges. This could be as simple as asking “Who can hold the longest wall sit in the office?”

Stress Relief

  • Encourage a healthy work-life balance. If you can, provide a flexible work schedule that’s not restricted to 9 a.m.-5 p.m. This gives employees room to work at hours best suited for them.
  • Create a fun area where employees can unwind — maybe a Ping-Pong or foosball table.
  • Provide on-site stress reduction clinics to help employees manage and reduce stress, and make stress reduction counseling available.
  • Organize on-site yoga, where an instructor comes in to guide the team through a yoga class every other week to promote employee health.
  • Play upbeat music without lyrics through speakers around the office. This has been shown to improve mood and productivity. Just remember to keep it at an ambient level.
  • Convert an empty room into a “no work” company break room, where employees can gather to relax, meditate, or do yoga. Fill it with comfortable chairs and soft couches. Strictly no business talk allowed!

Now that you have some ideas, let’s look at how to start a wellness program on a budget.

Step 2: Plan Out Your Employee Health Program

Identify programs that will best meet the needs of your employees. Then, analyze the costs of the programs and create a plan outlining which programs you will implement, when you will do so, and how much it will cost. Stick to a catalog of programs that fall within your budget. 

Employee health regulation checklistStep 3: Consider Relevant Regulations

It’s important to be aware of relevant regulations as you develop your wellness program, like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). General guidelines state that participation in wellness programs should be voluntary and any medical information obtained must remain confidential. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use your employee health program to make any employment-related decisions, and there must be reasonable alternative standards available for certain types of programs.

Step 4: Evaluate Your Results

Look at participation and satisfaction rates to tweak future programs and identify whether outcomes were achieved. Ask for feedback from employees on what they liked and didn’t like.

By implementing ideas like these and following the steps outlined above, you can begin to reap the benefits of an employee health program in 2024. You don’t have to wait until you have a large budget to get started. If you begin to make small, subtle changes today and observe their impact, you’ll notice healthcare costs drop and productivity soar.

Recent Articles

Subscribe to our Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Stay Fruitful!

Get your weekly dose of the latest fruit info and exclusive updates.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
The FruitGuys logo