Best Practices for Creating a Worldclass Employee Wellness Program

True change comes from consistent, sustainable actions that benefit the employees and help them improve their well-being.

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Creating a workplace that fosters employee well-being has numerous benefits including a happy workforce, higher retention rates, increased productivity, and greater profitability.

So what does it take to create a worldclass corporate employee wellness program? We can look to Sklar Wilton & Associates (SW&A) for some best practices. Below I share what SW&A are doing, their results and some takeaways and best practices you can use with your company or organization.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Sarah Liverance, Partner and Lead Engagement Champion at SW&A about their program.

It was about 3 years ago that the company decided to make a deliberate commitment to whole person development; encompassing mind, body, and spirit. Their goal is to equip employees with tools to be better people.

Each year they set a theme to guide the year, such as mindfulness and this year’s “brain health”.


SW&A has taken a very well-rounded approach to their employee wellness program. Wellness elements are integrated into daily life at the office.

Some of the specific ways they engage employees are through:

  • Workshops
  • Off-site events
  • Sharing relevant and helpful articles
  • Sending a daily email with a movement break
  • Healthy snacking centre
  • Signage around office with positive reminders (changes regularly)


There have been some tangible and noticeable results from taking action 3 years ago at SW&A.

  • Improved results on their annual employee engagement survey
  • Great Place To Work Awards:
    • 2017 – #1 Best Workplace for Companies 50 Employees or Less (Canada)
    • 2017 – Best Workplaces for Celebrating Success
    • 2018 – #11 Best Workplace for Companies 100 Employees or Less (Canada)
    • 2018 – Best Workplaces for Women
  • Employee Recommended Workplace Awards:
    • 2017 – #1 Employee Recommended Workplace for Small Privately Held Companies
    • 2018 – Employee Recommended Workplace for Small Privately Held Companies Finalist

In addition to the awards, there’s anecdotal evidence of success based on comments from staff about how the program has been life-changing, improved patience, improved relationships, and more.

Some comments from staff:

  • “Mindfulness has been life-changing for me. There’s no doubt that I’m a better mom because of it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for caring so much about me as a whole person.”
  • “I really appreciate the investment in our well-being. It really shows that SW&A cares about the whole person – not just our work selves.”
  • “The topics are very generous for a company to be offering…such applicability to our ‘whole lives’. As a colleague, that makes me feel respected and valued.”

Furthermore, the average tenure of their staff is 11 years! Clearly their emphasis on wellness and creating a sustainable, positive environment has paid off.


1) Senior Management Buy-In

  • All 5 SW&A Partners are committed to the program and indicate this commitment by having one of the Partners as their Lead Engagement Champion

>> Senior Management and all managers/leaders need to be truly committed to employee wellness and back that up with action, not just words.

2) Variety of Initiatives

  • SW&A didn’t just create one “wellness retreat” and check off the wellness box; they’ve created ongoing initiatives throughout the days, weeks, and year to keep investing in employee health.

>> It’s not about a “one-and-done” workshop or retreat; that won’t garner great results. True change comes from consistent, sustainable actions that benefit the employees and help them improve their well-being.

3) Investing Resources into the Program

  • If we look at some of the elements of the SW&A wellness program, like sending articles, creating a daily movement email, and office signage (not to mention planning workshops and retreats), it’s clear that there are staff who do the behind the scenes work to make those happen. What this shows is that SW&A is investing in those employees to do the work needed to keep the program going.

>> Employee wellness programs don’t run themselves (unfortunately). It will take some financial investment for third-party services or internal people resources to create and sustain an excellent wellness program.

4) Create a Customized Approach for Your Employees

  • SW&A created a custom program that met the needs of their staff. They chose activities and elements that worked for their employee demographics, interests, and challenges.

>> Wellness programs aren’t one-size-fits-all. The type of content and delivery methods need to match your employees. What works for one company might not be the best for yours. Take stock of what stage of life your employees are in, what are they interested in, how do they learn best and design your program to suit them.

If you’d like to chat about what a custom Wellness Program could look like at your company or organization, reach out to me at [email protected].

If your company already has a great wellness program and wants to share more best practices, I’d love to hear from you.

Originally published at

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