There are many potential benefits to establishing a wellness program for your business, and few drawbacks. Especially if yours is a small company, you may be concerned about the cost. But the truth is that there are many inexpensive steps you can take to build a culture of health and wellness in your workplace.
WELLNESS PROGRAM BASICS
The first thing you need to determine when you’re contemplating how to set up your new wellness program is what types of features to include. Each business is different, as are the needs of their employees, and so for your program to be most effective, it needs to be tailored to your situation.
Especially if you don’t have a huge budget for your wellness program, establishing a few targeted initiatives is the best way to begin. But first, you need to know what to target. There are several ways to go about gathering this information, including using a Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) and employee surveys.
HRAs are often available at little to no cost from your business insurance provider, and some outside firms offer them as well. They can give you insights into what the biggest health challenges facing your employees are and what risk factors to target first. But without getting your employees on board too, even the best-targeted programs can go nowhere fast.
The best way to make sure the program you implement is one your employees will embrace is to ask for their input up front. Once you’ve gathered some basic information from the HRAs, put together a list of possible classes or programs you would be willing to provide and ask your employees which they would be most interested in.
You can also ask for other ideas based on their personal concerns, which may often uncover a significant opportunity for improvement that you would not have realized existed before. No matter how you do it, though, asking your employees for their input and using what they give you to put together your program will make them feel more a part of the process from the beginning, and that will only boost engagement and improve participation.
SIMPLE SWITCHES AND COMPETITIONS
The actual wellness program you put together can take many forms. Some areas to consider targeting include:
- Snacks and Drinks – Whether you offer complementary snacks and drinks in your break room or you have vending machines, there are many ways to encourage your employees to make healthy eating choices. Charging less for healthy vending options is one way to go, and you can replace any complementary sweets, chips, and soda with fruit, vegetables, and water.
- Smoking Cessation – In almost every workplace, helping employees to stop smoking is a major concern and a great way to improve overall health and wellness. Offering some combination of classes, support groups, and incentives will help get smokers in your business moving in the right direction, and just the process of making it a group effort rather than an individual one can greatly improve outcomes.
- Walking – Adding movement to the workday is essential to improving the health and wellness of all your employees. There are many ways to promote walking while at work, including starting a group that takes walks before work or during lunchtime, holding periodic pedometer competitions, and even reorganizing your office space to make moving around easier and more enjoyable.
- Gym Membership – While you may not have the resources to install a gym onsite, it’s worth considering partnering with a local fitness center to offer discounted memberships to your employees. This arrangement can benefit both of you, and it’s an attractive feature for prospective employees as well.
- Fitness Classes – Whether you have a space within your offices to hold classes or you arrange to hold them elsewhere, this is another great opportunity for your employees to get together and participate in a healthful activity as a group.
One key to keeping your employees engaged with your wellness program is continually reevaluating and tweaking it. Adding new types of competitions or challenges periodically will help keep people from getting bored with the program, and it can also give you the opportunity to promote wellness in new or different areas.
LONG TERM SAVINGS
Having healthier employees saves you money in numerous ways. It can reduce the number of sick days your employees take, cut down on workplace accidents and workers comp claims, and even reduce your premiums directly through certain targeted initiatives and carrier-based incentives. And since many of the steps outlined above can be accomplished with very little cost to you, there are few reasons not to give it a try.
If you’d like to learn more about how to begin establishing a culture of wellness in your workplace and what we can do to help, call or email us today.