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Small Business Tips

Smart workplace wellness ideas for small businesses

MileIQ Team

With sick employees costing British businesses £77 billion a year (about $98 billion) and US businesses a massive $530 billion, workplace wellness has become a hot topic.

And sick employees don’t just cost money in the form of sick days and lost productivity. They also bring down morale and can lead to unhappy customers.

Unsurprisingly, more and more businesses are investing in workplace wellness programs. Here’s why you should consider starting one too. Plus, we’ll give you a few tips and ideas to try out.

What are workplace wellness programs?

Workplace wellness programs aim to help employees get healthier and happier. They usually focus on the following key areas:

  • Promoting physical activity
  • Eating better
  • Managing stress
  • Preventing illness

Why implement a workplace wellness program?

Put simply, because investing in workplace wellness will pay off in the long run. If your employees are healthy and happy, they’ll:

  • Take fewer sick days
  • Be more productive. In one study, for instance, employees who took part in a workplace wellness program gained 10.3 hours of productivity a year
  • Have a more positive attitude towards their job. Case in point, research by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit found that:

    …wellness programs align employer and employee goals more closely. They increase employee engagement with the company’s mission and goals. Employees are also more likely to see their own wellness as being linked with professional success. Companies that build a wellness culture thus acquire a workforce that is not only more focused and engaged, but that sees that culture as benefiting their careers.
  • Be more likely to stay on long term, which means less time and effort recruiting, on-boarding and training replacements

More to the point, research suggests that employees value workplace wellness programs and consider them important perks.

So, having a good workplace wellness program won’t just make your current employees happier, healthier and more productive — it’ll also make your business a more attractive place to work.

How to implement a workplace wellness program: 7 simple ideas

When it comes to workplace wellness, big corporations like Google, Apple and Facebook have set the bar pretty high. Google and Apple, for instance, offer on-site gyms and mindfulness classes. And Facebook even has an on-site barber, a dry cleaning service and a video game arcade.

Of course, if you’re a small business, you’re not going to be able to splash out that kind of cash. That said, there’s still lots you can do to improve your employees’ health and wellbeing.

Here are seven workplace wellness program tips and ideas you can try.

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1. Offer flexible working

Whether it’s the ability to start later, take a longer lunch break, get off early or work from home, flexible working has become a sought-after perk.

According to a FlexJobs survey:

  • 89 percent of employees think flexible working would make it easier to take better care of themselves
  • 87 percent say it would allow them to spend more time with family and friends
  • 81 percent think it would make them a better spouse or partner
  • 61 percent think it would make them a better parent

More to the point, a recent study found that employees who work flexibly or remotely are more satisfied and more productive. As a bonus, if more employees work from home, you could save money on utilities, office supplies and coffee.

2. Purchase a corporate gym membership

Can’t afford to have a gym on your premises (and — let’s face it — don’t have the space for it)?

Getting your employees a gym membership is the next best thing. Many national gym chains such as Planet Fitness and Anytime Fitness offer corporate memberships at discounted rates.

Alternatively, you could speak to a local gym and see if you could negotiate discounted rates. Or, you could do what Facebook does and give your employees a monthly wellness allowance to spend on gym memberships and other physical activities.

3. Stock up on healthy drinks and snacks

Ditch vending machines that sell candy bars, potato chips and other junk food and start offering fresh fruit and vegetables, protein bars and other healthy snacks.

You could also encourage healthy eating habits at work by:

  • Organizing initiatives such as meatless Mondays or vegan Fridays
  • Serving healthy alternatives during team meetings
  • Getting a nutritionist to give a talk or one-on-one sessions with your staff

4. Offer on-site health checks

Regular health checks are a great perk because they help your employees take stock of their health and identify any issues as early as possible.

They can also save lives.

For example, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. But only 38 percent of adults know their blood pressure.

5. Create opportunities for social interaction

Want to get your employees to socialize, bond as a team and get some exercise? You could volunteer at a local charity for the day, participate in a clean-up or organize a fundraising walk or fun run.

These kinds of activities increase team spirit and help your staff get to know each other better. Plus, you’ll all get to give back and do some good in the process.

6. Set time aside for mindfulness and relaxation

Have an employee who already does meditation in their spare time? You could ask them to host a few meditation sessions at work.

Other ways to encourage mindfulness include:

  • Enforcing regular breaks. At the very least, your employees should have a proper lunch break, away from their desks. But you should also encourage them to get up and stretch or have a quick walk every so often throughout the day
  • Creating a quiet space where people can think or go to relax for a bit
  • Starting a biweekly or monthly newsletter with mindfulness exercises and tips on reducing stress, getting more exercise and eating better

7. Encourage friendly competition

Sometimes, people just need a little extra push. And a bit of competition could be that incentive.

Google, for instance, gives its employees massage credits. They can exchange these for a free massage whenever they do an exceptional job.

But you don’t have to tie rewards to job performance. For example, you could start a monthly wellness challenge. And the winner could get a prize, an extra day off work or a donation to a charity of their choice.

Before you know it, your employees could well be working their way towards the best physical and mental shape of their lives.

In summary

While a workplace wellness program might cost some money to set up and run, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

In the US, where businesses pay for health insurance, every $1 spent on workplace wellness saves $3 on healthcare. But, beyond hard numbers, focusing on your staff’s wellbeing just makes for a healthier, happier workplace.

And, ultimately, that’s good for them, for your business and for your customers too.

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