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10 Steps to a Microbusiness Wellness Program

10 Steps to a Microbusiness Wellness Program

Published: August 27, 2009

It is always amusing, if frustrating, to note how often people underestimate microbusinesses. They assume that, simply because microbusinesses are small and without buckets of money at their disposal, they must be completely useless.

But, as any microbusiness owner worth their salt can tell you, there are almost always ways to do something you really need to do without having to spend a mountain of money.

In the spirit of that sort of thing, and in a nod to the fact that health care reform is the topic to obsess upon right now, here are some low-cost or no-cost elements of a microbusiness wellness program that I originally shared with readers at The Journal Blog* not long ago.

The idea here is that, while we may not have much direct impact on the relevant legislation, there are still ways that we can do our part to promote good health in our firms and in our communities.

And these are pretty microbusiness-specific ideas, by the way. Many of these suggestions won't work for larger firms (although several of them might) because they sort of require a small employee head count.

  1. Have a fully-equipped kitchen on your premises for cooking from-scratch (no processed food ingredients) lunches. Keep 'Fast and Healthy' cookbooks at hand. Give employees the option of taking turns cooking lunch for everybody.
  2. Conduct smaller meetings (2-3 people) while walking* — out of doors, if possible.
  3. Compose a walking/jogging route in the area around your office that can be covered in half an hour at a brisk walk. Post the route for employees.
  4. Include healthy (that is, from scratch with no processed foods included) recipes in your employee monthly newsletter.
  5. Buy some lumber. Get your employees to build an adult-sized playground in the parking lot. Conduct meetings on the swings.
  6. Even without the playground, give your employees recess — 15 minutes, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, to go play. (During recess, employees are not allowed to sit down.)
  7. Encourage workers to get an annual physical with a simple and low-cost reward/public recognition like badges, t-shirts, stickers. (Know those Red Cross stickers? 'Be nice to me, I gave blood today.')
  8. Every year, reward unused sick days.
  9. Negotiate discounted rates at a local fitness center. Reward employees for using it.
  10. For virtual businesses: create an intranet bulletin board or employee email discussion list as a sort of fitness club, for employees to talk about their diet and exercise ideas and plans, encourage each other, post recipes and health information articles, review exercise DVDs, etc.

With a bit of creativity, encouraging employees to be fit and healthy needn't be an expensive proposition and there simply is no down side to warn you about.

You'd have healthier employees. You'd have a more tightly knit operation, too, because your people would be having fun working for you, making them loyal employees. Their brains would be functioning better, which would make them more productive and more creative. They'd be sick (and take sick days) far less often.

And, in the long run, you'd make more money. This stuff is win-win-win-win.

I'm sure you can think of other items to add to this list. Maybe your company is already doing something I haven't thought of here, so please leave a comment and share your experiences and ideas.

* This hypertext link leads to a non-government web site (in case you can't figure that out for yourself).

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