Top 10 reasons your small business should have a wellness program

Many people think wellness programs are only for large businesses with hundreds of employees. But the truth is, small businesses can also see a number of benefits from including one of these programs.

Below are the top 10 reasons your small business needs a wellness program, including how it can benefit your employees, improve productivity, and provide you with a stronger, happier, and healthier worksite culture.

1. Bust stress

Stress is something almost everyone cites when describing why they are unhappy, but many people accept it as a fact of life. In actuality, people aren’t meant to be constantly stressed. As studies have shown, being under this kind of pressure from work, relationships, and home life can actually cause serious physical and psychological side effects.

While some might think small business employees are under less stress than they would be if they were working for a larger company, Total Wellness points out that individuals working in smaller businesses tend to wear many hats and do multiple jobs—more than would be expected of them at another company.

Adding a wellness program can help people deal with their day-to-day stressors through awareness and discussion. In addition, wellness programs often emphasize daily exercise, which can not only reduce weight but also stress. By cutting down on stress and reducing burnout, having a wellness plan is a win for your employees and a win for your business.

2. Reduce sick days

Companies with fewer employees tend to feel one person’s absence more intensely when they take sick days. Think about it: someone who does multiple jobs at your business will be sorely missed when they need to take time off for a doctor’s appointment or a mild illness. This is another reason why having a wellness program will not only improve worksite wellness but employee productivity as well.

By implementing a weight loss plan into your wellness program, you can help employees eat healthier and become less likely to experience problems like hypertension and diabetes. It’s also a great idea to remind your employees to get a flu shot when flu season rolls around, to help decrease the amount of absenteeism you experience. Your benefit advisor or insurer likely has strategies you can easily tap into to activate these strategies—like wellness portals with walking challenges or content to promote flu shots.

3. Reduce presenteeism

Presenteeism is an issue where employees show up to work sick or unwell because they are concerned about losing their jobs or feel that they must work through their illness. According to Investopedia, not only does presenteeism cause loss of productivity, but it also creates higher chances for accidents and provides the opportunity for your unwell employee to pass on the bug to others.

Having a wellness program at work will help educate your employees about when to come in and when to play it safe at home. After all, choosing to take one day off can help the illness clear up much faster than forcing oneself to slog through each day of the week. In addition, by adding an employee wellness program to your worksite, you’re showing employees you care about their physical and mental wellbeing, which will decrease the chance that they’ll fear repercussions if they take time off to get better.

4. Foster employee loyalty

In that same vein, by showing your employees you care about their physical and mental health, you are building the bridge for a kind of unspoken loyalty, one you shouldn’t ignore, especially if you’re a small business. Employees who don’t feel seen or appreciated might consider leaving your company for a larger one where they could be able to make more money or have more opportunities for advancement.

One of the best things you can offer your employees as a small business owner is a personal connection. If they were to go to one of these larger companies, they would probably never meet the CEO unless they were to rise very high in the ranks. Offering them a personal option for their health like a wellness program will show that you not only care about their productivity in your office but about them as people.

If workers feel cared for, they will return that investment in wonderful ways, such as being loyal to your company, working with you for longer periods of time, and providing you with higher levels of focus and attention, according to Small Business Trends. At the end of the day, you’re going to want your employees to feel as good about you and your business as you want to feel about them.

5. Encourage teamwork

Small businesses especially have a unique need for teamwork among their employees. If there’s a problem between two or more of your employees, it’s much more likely to spread into your company’s day-to-day work. Your employees should be able to trust each other and will ideally have relationships with one another that go beyond the daily grind of their workdays.

Having a workplace wellness program can help encourage these connections. When you offer your employees a discounted gym membership or free yoga classes, they might be more likely to spend time together outside of work to attend these functions together. Offering your employees a way to get fitter and healthier together will go a long way toward creating shared connections.

6. Boost morale

As stated previously, employees will work harder and provide better work if they feel recognized and appreciated by their employers. Happy workers are productive workers, and happiness goes hand-in-hand with health. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, having just 150 minutes of physical activity a week can improve your health and provide many psychological benefits, such as better stress management, better self-confidence, and more energy at work and at home.

By helping your employees take good care of themselves and be aware of their own personal wellbeing, you’ll be contributing to their overall happiness. Also, employees who struggle with mental health problems (such as anything from depression to bipolar disorder to an anxiety disorder to substance use disorders) may even be encouraged to reach out for help because of an at-work wellness program.

7. Attract top talent

It’s important to consider the future when you choose to implement a wellness program, including the people you want to attract to your company. For example, you might want to bring younger individuals with an aptitude for technology. These individuals, especially those with real talent, are savvy when it comes to their company’s benefits. They aren’t going to work just anywhere, and they want to know what their employer is willing to do for them.  

Having a wellness program that offers incentives, such as gym membership, exercise classes, company-wide competitions for prizes, and others, can increase the likelihood that talented, passionate people will want to join your team.

8. Decrease emergency department (ED) visits

One of the ways a wellness program can help your small business and employees is by decreasing the number of hospital visits your employees make in a year, which will significantly reduce employee out-of-pocket costs. Promoting lower cost alternatives to the emergency room—like urgent care centers and virtual urgent care—can save your employees both time and money when appropriate. Studies show that wellness programs help reduce hospital and ED admissions by 66 percent.

Employees are able to take better care of themselves by participating in wellness programs, which may help decrease the need for emergency visits to the hospital. Many wellness programs, even at small businesses, offer smoking cessation classes and other opportunities to help employees take control of their health. Also, employees who participate in company wellness programs are more likely to visit their doctors regularly and find out about problems before they become severe enough to require a hospital visit. This allows your employees to be healthier and also passes the savings along to you. Your benefit advisor and insurer may have strategies and communications you can tap into to help educate your employees.

9. Decrease costs

Implementing a wellness program can go a long way toward helping employees understand their benefits. By providing education about their plans and treatment options, you can help your employees get the care they need in the most appropriate setting, whether that’s their primary care provider’s office, urgent care, or virtually from the comfort of their home.

When employees have a better understanding of their care options, they can save on out-of-pocket costs and help control premium costs for everyone.

10. Benefit your employees

As we’ve seen, there are a lot of ways a wellness program can benefit your small business. But, the best reason to include a workplace wellness program is that your employees will benefit from it even more than you can.

As the Wall Street Journal says, the benefits to your employees should be your main focus when choosing to implement a wellness program. Your employees provide you with at least 40 hours of their week—and, as is the case with many small businesses, probably a lot more—so they deserve to enjoy a few perks when it comes to their jobs. Everyone is happier and healthier when they have an opportunity to focus on their wellness, and as an employer, this is a wonderful gift to give your employees.

Implementing your wellness program

Implementing a wellness program into any business takes time and resources. But with so many benefits to your employees’ productivity, loyalty, and happiness, the investment is well worth it. Talk to your benefit advisor or insurer to learn more about the wellness options and benefits you can offer, and start helping your employees live well and stay healthy.

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