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Why and How to Implement a Health and Wellness Program for Your Employees

Why and How to Implement a Health and Wellness Program for Your Employees

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: December 24, 2012 Updated: December 24, 2012

As you look forward to a new year and new business opportunities, is the health and wellness of your employees at the forefront of your 2013 business plans?

According to a new study of more than 1,000 small-business owners by Humana and the National Small Business Association (NSBA), 93 percent of small businesses consider their employees’ physical and mental health to be important to their bottom line, and 54 percent say it’s “extremely important.” But despite that, only a third of respondents are confident they can manage employee health care needs, citing gaps in information and employee interest.

(Note: This survey defined health and wellness programs as initiatives to encourage employees to make healthier choices, such as getting preventative care, eating right and exercising.)

So what health and wellness issues are small business owners concerned about?

  • High employee stress is the number one concern for small business decision-makers, especially at smaller companies, with stress levels rating more than triple other employee well-being concerns.
  • Employees working when they are sick is second – 57 percent reported that their employees show up for work when they should be taking a sick day.

As this study shows, health and wellness programs can be a win-win situation for small businesses, fostering healthier people and healthier profits. So what’s holding small business owners back from implementing programs?

Employee Interest

A key factor in whether or not to introduce a health and wellness program rests with employee interest. For example, start-ups (many with younger employees) lead the way in providing wellness programs and their employees prefer it this way. In fact, 85 percent of start-ups say wellness programs are worth the investment and 63 percent are already adopting such programs. Interestingly, these start-ups say these programs aid in recruiting and retaining employees.

So with employees actively seeking health and wellness benefits, these programs are likely to become an increasingly important part of any small business owner’s hiring and personnel management strategy.

Employers Need More Information

More than half the small business owners surveyed maintained that insufficient information is available about introducing health and wellness programs at a small business. This is something healthcare insurance providers are increasingly aware of and are seeking to correct by providing tools and resources to help small business owners develop health and wellness programs. The reward for both is healthier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Tips for Implementing Health and Wellness Programs in Your Small Business

So how can you go about planning and implementing a program that makes sense for your business, with the limited resources available to you? Health and wellness plans don’t have to break the bank. With a bit of creativity there are many things you can do to keep employees health and happy.

Here are a few tips:

  • Talk to your employees. Find out what aspects of an employer-sponsored health and wellness plan they would value most. It could be discounted gym memberships, quarterly sponsored walks/runs, or employee-led healthy cooking workshops. maybe it’s just more awareness of free or low-cost preventative care options covered by your healthcare insurance plan.
  • Get ideas for your wellness program. This blog from former SBA guest blogger, Dawn Rivers Baker, offers some creative and engaging ideas for a low-cost or no-cost employee wellness program.
  • Get help structuring specific programs. The Centers for Disease Control provides some great online tools to help you design and structure your wellness programs. For example, CDC LEAN Works is a free web-based resource that can help employers design effective worksite obesity prevention and control programs, including an obesity cost calculator to estimate how much obesity is costing your company and how much in savings your company could reap with different sorts of workplace interventions.
  • Consult your healthcare insurance provider. Many now offer tools and resources to help employers develop programs. Familiarize yourself with the types of programs that make sense for your business.
  • Get help from small business assistance groups. Check in with your local Small Business Development Center or Chamber of Commerce. They may have resources or seminars that can help you build the right program for your business.

Have you implemented a wellness program? Has it improved your bottom line? Have any tips for other small business owners? Leave a comment below.

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About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley