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How to Build an Employee Wellness Program that Builds Connection, Community & Emotional Wellbeing

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Written by: Dana Wisniewski, MS | Health Promotion Manager | AdvantageHealth Corporation

Did you know that the Surgeon General released an advisory concluding that social disconnection is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day?!

Loneliness has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., and its physical effects are making people sick.

Research shows that having friends can actually help add years to your life. One study found that adults with strong social networks were significantly more likely to live longer. But how can we create a workplace that's focuses on creating authentic connection? Read on!

Building connections and fostering a sense of community among employees is essential for a healthy and productive work environment. Here's a wellness program designed to help employees get to know each other and improve their connections:

Employee Welcome Program:

  • Develop an onboarding process that emphasizes the importance of building connections and establishes a sense of belonging right from the start.

  • Assign new employees a buddy or mentor who can guide them through their initial days and help them integrate into the team.

Team-Building Activities:

  • Organize regular team-building activities such as retreats, off-site events, or team lunches to encourage employees to interact and get to know each other in a relaxed setting.

  • Include team-building exercises like icebreaker games, group challenges, or collaborative problem-solving activities that promote communication and cooperation.

Wellness Challenges:

  • Launch wellness challenges that encourage employees to form teams and work together towards common health goals. For example, a step challenge where teams compete to achieve the highest number of steps collectively.

  • Incorporate friendly competitions and rewards to make the challenges engaging and motivate employees to support each other.

  • Try AdvantageHealth's newest wellness challenge: Wellness Buddies, a 4-week challenge that fosters a sense of community, promotes social connections, and encourages employees to engage in healthy activities together.

Social Events:

  • Arrange social events outside of work hours, such as holiday parties, picnics, or volunteer activities, where employees can interact and connect on a personal level.

  • Create opportunities for employees to participate in shared interests or hobbies, such as a book club, crafting, sports team, or cooking classes.

Lunch and Learn Sessions:

  • Organize regular lunchtime sessions where employees can share their expertise, hobbies, or personal interests with their colleagues. This allows employees to learn from each other and discover commonalities.

  • Consider our wellness seminar/webinar: Emotional Intelligence

Employee Recognition Programs:

  • Implement an employee recognition program that acknowledges and celebrates individual and team achievements. This fosters a culture of appreciation and encourages employees to support and recognize each other.

Wellness Committees:

  • Establish wellness committees composed of volunteers from different departments. These committees can organize activities and initiatives that promote connections and wellness within the organization.

Open Communication Channels:

  • Encourage open and transparent communication within the organization. Implement platforms like suggestion boxes, online forums, or regular feedback sessions to allow employees to share ideas, concerns, and suggestions.

Cross-Department Collaboration:

  • Encourage employees from different departments to collaborate on projects or initiatives. This creates opportunities for them to work together and build relationships outside of their immediate teams.

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives:

  • Develop diversity and inclusion initiatives that foster an inclusive environment where employees from all backgrounds feel welcome and valued. This can include awareness campaigns, training programs, or employee resource groups.

  • Consider our wellness seminar/webinar: Building Inclusive Cultures

Remember to continuously assess the program's effectiveness and gather feedback from employees. By implementing these strategies, you can create a wellness program that helps employees connect, build relationships, and improve overall well-being within your organization.

What to get started with a wellness program at your organization or improve an existing program? Kristine Keykal, MPH, has over two decades of experience helping organizations design successful wellness programs to improve employee wellness, productivity and connection. She offers consulting services to help you build and maintain an employee wellness program. From team building to wellness seminars to incentive challenges, AdvantageHealth offers everything you need to improve connection, community and employee wellbeing.

Email Kristine Keykal at to get started or call 612.823.4470 (select option “1”).

Dana Wisniewski, MS, has worked with AdvantageHealth for 12 years. From designing wellness programs for CO's largest school district with over 12,000 employees to health coaching one-on-one, she specializes in cultivating a healthy, thriving workplace. She holds certifications in yoga teacher training, mediation teacher training, personal training and wellness coaching and has published three books.


Since 2001, Minnesota-based AdvantageHealth has been delivering award-winning employee wellbeing programs and fitness center design & management throughout the U.S.

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