Workplace Wellness: A Guide for Small Business Owners


Studies have shown that health and wellness programs improve employees' personal lives as they help reduce the risk for serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. 

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, 59% of US employees do not get enough exercise. About half of all employees have high cholesterol.

Health and wellness programs provide the following benefits:

  • Fewer on-the-job injuries for employees
  • Increased employee morale and company loyalty
  • Lower health costs
  • Reduced absentee days
  • Improved employee productivity
  • Reduced workers' compensation and disability costs

The following paragraphs comprise a workplace wellness guide to help you implement health and wellness programs for your employees.

Learn how to offer the best benefits package to your employees!

1. Assess Your Workforce's Needs

Workplace health and wellness programs are not one-size-fits-all. You must first assess the needs of your particular workforce. Here are a few considerations to keep top-of-mind before adopting a health and wellness initiative:

  • Evaluate the culture and environment. Certain variables such as job stress, social networks, and social support all impact health and attitudes toward wellness programs.
  • Are employees interested in personal wellness?  You may find some employees in all age groups interested in wellness activities, albeit different activities may appeal from one age group to another. 
  • Determine which types of wellness programs to offer. Successful programs seek to link to employee interests or to address employee stresses.

2. Develop Goals and Objectives

Many employers look for value on investment (VOI) which is related more to reduced absenteeism, increased levels of productivity, fewer job-related injuries, and reduced workers' compensation and disability claims. With these types of goals in mind, employers are more likely to make targeted wellness programs. That means their programs are more effective and popular with employees.

Seventy-seven percent of employees report that wellness programs positively impact the company's culture. It’s important to determine what long-term achievements you anticipate from your wellness program. For example, companies with employee engagement programs report 233% higher customer loyalty.

3. Establish a Budget

Every dollar counts in business, especially for small to mid-size companies. A PEO can help you select comprehensive benefits that fit within the budget you design. PEOs do this by pooling their clients together to take advantage of economies of scale when negotiating with health insurance providers. PEOs also help with time-consuming administrative tasks like enrollment and COBRA administration. A PEO can also reduce the costs of hiring below the Glass Door's estimate of $4,000 per hire, savings that an employer can use for other business needs.

4. Design a Wellness Program

Examples of wellness programs that small to mid-size companies might consider offering are:

  • Stress management and yoga training
  • Health screening
  • Weight management
  • Addiction programs
  • Employee counseling

Select wellness programs that engage your workforce. You will base your selection on the information gathered from your assessments, the limitations of your budget, the business goals you adopt, and employee suggestions.

5. Offer Professional Development

Keeping employees engaged entails providing targeted programs geared to help employees be the best that they can be. Examples of such programs are:

  • Providing protocols for best practices in your industry,
  • Strengthening onboarding and training procedures,
  • Providing opportunities for employees to participate in voluntary educational programs, and
  • Incorporating coaching and mentoring programs.

Research shows that engaged employees are 17% more productive, produce 21% more profitable projects, and earn 10% more superior ratings from satisfied customers.

6. Create an Incentive

Incentives to participate in your company's wellness program are (just to name a few):

  • 30 minutes out of the workday at the gym,
  • Walking breaks during the workday,
  • Healthy snacks of fruit, vegetables, nuts,
  • Organize a company sports team (basketball, baseball, bowling league),
  • Yoga instruction,
  • Provide openings for employees to volunteer for a charity, participate in wellness activities, run in marathons.

7. Communicate the Wellness Plan to Employees

The most successful health and wellness programs benefit from positive and integrated communications. Successful programs are relevant to their employees’ needs and benefit from the value of employee input. Most of all, communication should emphasize that the employee's safety and wellbeing is of utmost concern.

8. Evaluate the Success of Your Wellness Program

Establishing metrics that will determine the success of your wellness program gives you the means to track employee participation and ascertain the program’s alignment with company goals. You want to measure the return on investment (ROI) as well as the value on investment (VOI) of your program. A PEO can help track your metrics for you.

Identify the program accomplishments and review the effect on the company's budget, resources, and time management. Naturally, you want to know that the program has improved employee health and wellness statistics, too. Indicators such as employee morale, loyalty, retention, perceived quality of life are difficult to measure but are possible with employee feedback.

Moving Forward

The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything about the way the U.S. works today. The virus has had a negative impact on economic conditions for workers and companies alike. It is more critical than ever to evaluate the health and wellbeing of your workforce — and design a wellness program that fits your work culture and the interests of your workers.

To learn more about how a PEO can help you implement and manage health and wellness programs for your workers, we invite you to contact us to speak with one of our experienced staff members. We look forward to helping you grow your business.

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