20 Workplace Wellness Programs When Startup Is On Budget

wellness program startup on budget

“Health is a state of body. Wellness is a state of being. – J. Stanford

Researchers at Harvard Business Review found that every dollar invested in wellness, companies can get an average return of $2.71 gained from improved productivity, declining absenteeism, and lower healthcare costs. At the same time, promoting wellness in the workplace also enhances employee morale which eventually affects their pride, trust, and commitment towards their job.

However, that wellness program we are talking about comes with a budget. According to Well Steps article, the cost of a wellness program is between US$150 and US$1200 per employee per year. This huge range comes with a few practical options such as biometric screening, health coaching, robust incentives, and more. A wellness program can even just cost around US$36 – US$90 per employee per year, but obviously, this one comes with fewer options.

See also: Coolest Perks: Why You Should Work for These Startups! (Part 2)

It is a common secret that newly-built startup is typically run with a limited budget to promote such “expensive” program. But luckily, there are some inexpensive and even free wellness programs you can offer to employees without leaving behind your business scale. Even better, you can always improve the budget as your business grows bigger.

Here are some wellness ideas for a startup with a tight budget.


  1. Offer healthy office snacks such as fruits, nuts, and oats in the office kitchen
  2. Provide a vending machine and place stickers on low-fat items with a fun encouragement to let employees have healthier refreshment
  3. Encourage “fruits and vegetable day”
  4. Have employees keep track of their grocery list and offer prizes for those who consistently buy healthy food options
  5. Offer cooking class by inviting chef from a local restaurant or university. This can be a free program when you have a friend or relative who is a chef.


  1. Encourage and participate with employees in community walks around local area
  2. Encourage managers to hold walking meetings when gathering with a small number of employees
  3. Negotiate corporate discounts for health club memberships
  4. Have one or two fitness equipment at the office. The tool can last longer and can be used from time-to-time by employees.
  5. Offer incentives for employees who walk or bike to work. Encourage them by providing bicycle ranks or a fenced-in area in a well-lit section. You can also add some posters such as “Thank you for helping us save the environment by cycling. Keep it up!”
  6. If your building has both stairs and elevator, encourage employees to take the stairs instead of an elevator by placing some encouraging posters.

wellness program for startup on budget

Image credit: library.kent.edu

Stress and workplace management

  1. Reorganise the workspace and place some indoor plants
  2. Provide a de-stress zone, a safe place area for employees to cry, vent, distress, or even sleep
  3. Encourage humour and laughter
  4. Suggest employees bring a pet at work whenever convenient
  5. Promote support system such as “call-a-friend button” to listen to employee problems
  6. Encourage lunch, get-together, and learn event. The event can be used to distress and simply get to know each other better
  7. Always start a meeting with stretching or 3-minutes yoga
  8. Send a message to employees every day to remind them about wellness. The message can be a quote or a reminder. The message can be an automated set for all employees. The more personal touch you give, employees will feel more motivated.
  9. Offer employees to go home early on Friday.

Read also: Guide to be an Effective Human Resource Manager at Startup