Most, if not all, small business owners would say that the health of their employees is important to them. In fact, research shows that 93% of small businesses say that employee health is important to their bottom line, but only 22% offer wellness programs (Vesely, 2013). The percentage for large businesses is much higher.
So why are small businesses lagging behind? Many small businesses claim the reason they do not have a wellness program is a lack of resources and expertise. Others may recognize the benefits of a wellness program, but may not know where to begin.
However, there are a number of reasons why a small business would offer a wellness program to its employees. Among these are to improve productivity, to decrease healthcare costs, to show that the company cares about the welfare of its employees, and to improve company morale. For small businesses in particular, studies show that although financial outcomes are important, it is the humanitarian and employee relations outcomes that may be more influential deciding factors for starting wellness programs (Divine, 2005).
For a small business, beginning an employee wellness program can be daunting. However, by keeping a few ideas in mind, the process can be less intimidating. For a greater impact, be sure to involve company leaders in the wellness program to set an example for employee involvement. In addition, it is helpful for a small business to understand the unique needs of its employees. This can be done through surveys, health risk assessments and on-site screenings. After the company has identified common risks and needs, it can offer programs and incentives tailored specifically to its employees. Company fitness challenges, discount programs, and incentives such as contributions to a health account are all ways for a small business to work towards meeting its wellness goals.
Divine, R. L. (2005). Determinants of small business interest in offering a wellness program to their employees. Health Marketing Quarterly 22(3), 43-58.
Neely, M. (2012). Wellness strategies for smaller businesses. Benefits Quarterly, 16-19.
Optum (2013). Fourth annual wellness in the workplace study. Medical Benefits, 2-4.
Vesely, R. (2013). Small business adds new ingredient to workforce recipe: Wellness training. Workforce Management 92(6), 9-9.