Research shows that employers who offer wellness programs stand to gain a lot: in addition to lowering their overall healthcare costs (including the cost of insurance), they can improve employee engagement and productivity in the office. In addition, offering the kinds of benefits that wellness programs often include can help employers attract and retain highly talented individuals.
The best evidence for wellness programs, though, is the ROI: the CDC found that, for every dollar businesses spend on wellness programs, they save up to $2.43.
But for small-business owners, many of whom don’t yet have the resources to offer health insurance, can a wellness program actually work? The answer is yes. Read on for tips on how to bring the benefits of a wellness program to your company, no matter how small it is.
Small Changes, Big Benefits
Here’s how your business can implement (and enjoy the benefits of) a wellness program even if you don’t have a benefits counselor to talk your team through the programs you implement.
- Restock kitchen shelves. If your workplace includes a vending machine or kitchen area, make sure that the food and drink choices available are health-friendly. That means replacing chips and cookies with fruits, veggies, and other whole foods and swapping high-calorie, sugary drinks for tea, coffee, and water.
- Start a contest. As a small-business owner, you may not be able to afford gym membership for all your employees, but you could fund a contest to encourage your employees to work out and / or lose weight. Even something as simple as providing everyone with pedometers (which can be bought for a few dollars each) and seeing who can walk the most steps every week can spark meaningful gains in health.
- Give information – and alternatives. If yours is a culture of fast food, consider providing your team nutrition information about their standard meals. To avoid sounding like a health bully, offer alternative food options (in the same price range) that have lower calorie counts and incorporate more nutrient-rich foods.
- Take advantage of your flexibility. Small-business owners tend to have one major advantage over their larger counterparts: they can be flexible. Use that to your advantage by encouraging your employees to work out when it works for them: let them start later, walk during lunch, or come in early so they can hit the gym before the after-work rush. Even offering them the option to work remotely some days can encourage them to be more active by giving them more time to do so.