Studies show that workplace wellness programs not only improve employee morale and productivity but reduce absenteeism and turnover and contribute significantly to the reduction of a company’s overall healthcare costs. These are benefits in which all companies, regardless of size, should be willing to invest, not just the Googles and Amazons of the world. Yes, it might be financially easier for big corporations to fund on-site gyms or offer specific health services meant to improve their employees’ psychological and physical health, but there are plenty of ways that small business owners can encourage employee well-being without investing a ton of time or money. Here are five tips that small business owners can use to encourage employee wellness and begin reaping the rewards of improved employee health.
- Offer Health Insurance
The number one step in any employee wellness program is offering access to quality healthcare services. Today it’s easier than ever for even the smallest of businesses to offer health insurance to their employee(s). In addition to helping safeguard their health so that they are able to continue working with and for you, providing health insurance shows your employees that you care about their well-being, making them more likely to want to keep working with and for you!
- Create a Culture of Well-Being
You don’t need over-the-top luxuries (like peaceful tracks around your campus, onsite massage therapists and treadmill desks) to promote healthy employee habits, but you do need a specific type of office culture. Even small businesses can dedicate themselves to providing a workplace environment that respects their employees’ health and well-being by allowing scheduled breaks for employees to relax, regroup and reenergize themselves throughout the day. Officially building that time into each day’s schedule allows employees to destress without guilt. In Sweden, for example, “fika” is considered a normal, daily occurrence, offering employees a 15-minute break every day to socialize with officemates over coffee and pastries.
- Go Green
Bring nature in. Plants release oxygen, absorb pollutants and add moisture to the air, allowing the people around them to breathe easier and think more clearly. Plus, plants make a space prettier, providing visual aesthetics that foster positive emotional release in employees and improve their performance.
- Facilitate Health Partnerships
Find ways to support employees in their own journeys toward better health. You can partner with your insurance company or you could look to collaborate with other small businesses within your community — such as a local trainer, health food store or medspa provider (like the Institute of Natural Health in St. Louis) — that provide health products or preventive health services and treatments. Work with these types of partners to offer employees access (via time off for treatments, discounts and coupons, education and training, etc.) to the health benefits their services provide. Teaming up with other organizations removes some of the financial burden for your employees’ wellness, but still facilitates their access to it, helping you, your employees and other businesses!
- Incentivize Healthy Habits
Incentives don’t have to cost money. Of course, you can offer money or prizes for reaching specific health goals, but there’s really no need to financially reward employees for good health when you can incentivize healthy habits in other ways. Think about offering wellness challenges that encourage healthful living (weight loss, lowering cholesterol, quitting smoking, drinking water, walking each day, etc.) instead. Sometimes good, old school competition is enough to generate excitement and stimulate meaningful change.