Establishing a great wellness program into your company culture should be a top priority. Depending on your program, it can help reduce absenteeism, support a decreased turnover rate, and even has the potential to reduce medical costs. Small and large businesses are facing the same demographic trends: America has an aging workforce, and a rising risk of chronic diseases. However, small businesses don't always have access to the resources to educate and support employees on the importance of health and wellness. Here are five low-cost ways you can establish or improve your company wellness program:
1. Lead by Example
For wellness programs to be effective, leadership is key. People are more likely to follow their leader's behavior. The Health Enhancement Research Organization found that companies with very supportive leadership in this area were 2.5 times more likely to see a substantial reduction in medical costs.
As a small business owner, you have the opportunity to do this directly. Set the tone with your employees by what you do. Instead of sitting down for your weekly meeting, take a walk outside. If you're encouraging employees to take breaks, be sure to take breaks yourself.
Actions speak louder than words. Use your actions to lead the way in your wellness program to ensure more people follow.
2. Create Accessible Resources
Another major component for effective wellness programs is accessibility. You may offer a discount to eat at healthier restaurants, but employees won't use it if they feel pressed to work through lunch.
Making these benefits easy to use doesn't have to be complicated. You might consider offering your employees a list of free wellness apps for smartphones such as step counters, guided meditation, or reminders to take breaks. You can also provide information around the office or in your employee newsletter about local, free, or discounted workout classes. These small changes show you're thinking about how wellness can work for your employees - not just your business.
3. Encourage Health Screenings
There are various reasons why some people don't go to the doctor, but studies show that 20% of women haven't had a recent checkup and 40% of men don't get an annual physical. This means millions of people don't know the actual status of their health. Issues that could be caught and treated early are often left undetected until they become a serious problem.
There are a number of ways to encourage health screenings without going for expensive services. Blood pressure monitoring and eye exams, for instance, are non-invasive and return results quickly. Assure employees that the company does not have access to results. Reward employees with a free lunch or an Amazon gift card if they take the time to do these tests. For the highest opt-in rate, give employees flexibility in their schedules specifically for those screenings.
4. Start Some Friendly Competition
Gamification can not only motivate but also make wellness activities fun for employees. It creates rewards and incentivizes people to make changes, which will hopefully improve habits in the long run.
Using gamification for your program doesn't have to be expensive. For instance, you could do a month-long health challenge with different goals each week, like reaching 10,000 steps a day. Small prizes (such as a $10 Starbucks gift card) could be the prize for the individual or team who does best on the weekly goal. At the end of the month, you can have a grand prize winner for the large reward. Gamification can help foster healthy competition and change unhealthy habits without breaking your bottom line.
5. Understand Underlying Issues
People want to be healthy. No one wants to struggle with chronic health issues or feel sluggish. However, there are reasons people make decisions that don't make them as healthy long-term. Smoking and drinking heavily, for example, could be tools employees use to relax.
What are the roadblocks to wellness in your business? Maybe your employees feel rushed, unable to make time for cooking or exercise. Perhaps your team has been under a lot of tight deadlines and feels the stress. Taking time to engage with direct managers, your HR specialist, or with employees directly can help you identify these issues and find the right solutions for your business.
Once you've identified these issues, you work toward creating solutions that best fit your needs. For instance, if stress is an issue, look into options such as guided meditation classes or creating a quiet room. If employees are struggling with scheduling, flexible schedules might help them better manage their work-life balance and be more efficient.
Turning your existing wellness program into a great program doesn't require intensive technology or a large budget. In fact a great program can even be seen as part of a compensation package. To be effective, a wellness program will require buy-in from leadership, accessibility for employees, and an understanding of your business' unique issues regarding wellness. Taking the time to implement these key elements will ensure the time and money you invest in a wellness program not only helps your employees, but also your business as a whole.