Workplace wellness doesn’t have to mean on-site gyms and in-house personal trainers. Small companies may be able to encourage healthy living and offer compelling perks to employees without spending a lot of money and time putting together a plan.
For a small company, the payoff can be big: Many employers report that healthier employees show up to work more often, are more productive, and visit the doctor less frequently. The payoff is also big for employees — and that should be your focus when implementing your program. The program is for them, not something you’re doing to them to reduce your insurance costs. Having the right attitude and getting everyone involved in a positive way is a good first step.
Here are five tips for small companies that want to get started with wellness at work.
1. Clean out the vending machines. Strip out the cookies and candy bars, and replace them with healthier snacks such as granola bars and reduced-fat or low-calorie treats.
2. Invest in pedometers. For just a few dollars each, you can buy pedometers for your employees. Pass them out and encourage staffers to keep track of the number of daily steps, walking a few extra each day. You can even start a walking competition at work. Ask your insurance provider. Some offer pedometers for free.
3. Give employees fast-food facts. Did you know that a Burger King Whopper with cheese packs 770 calories and 48 grams of fat? Your employees might not know, either. Create a pocket guide to help employees make informed decisions for themselves and their families when they run through the drive-through window after work. You can aggregate information available on most major fast-food chains’ Web sites. Or, check a Web site like CalorieKing.com.
4. Offer health-risk assessments. Employees who complete assessments may find risk factors and then be able to take steps to head off health threats. For $5 to $15 per employee, your insurance company or a third-party vendor may be able to provide personal online assessments — usually 80 to 120 questions — based on a user’s family health history, eating habits and physical activity.
Be sure to make assessments voluntary and confidential, and assure employees that the results won’t be shared with anyone. Offer two free movie tickets or another token to entice employees to complete the assessment.
5. Review claims. When it’s time to renew your company’s health insurance, look at your claims data. If you know many employees have blood-pressure problems, considering bringing in speakers to talk about managing it or screeners from a local hospital or clinic.
But you may not need to review claims data to spot opportunities for taking preventative steps. If, for instance, a lot of employees are men in their 50s, you might want to consider covering prostate screenings.
– Companies that want to take a bigger step toward employee wellness may want to try an employee contest or challenge, a friendly competition that may pit groups of employees against one another. The format is a natural fit for small companies, where the camaraderie can lend itself to teamwork and competitive spirit.
Developing such contests can be time-consuming and expensive. But they can pay off with healthier employees and lower health-care costs. For example, at one small company, employees team up and also individually earn $3 for every 1% of body weight they lose. At the end of a quarter, each member of the winning team receives as much as $50 and second-place-team members a little less.
Another company offers an optional wellness program in which employees participate in a nine-month contest and earn points by completing health and fitness challenges. The grand prize: $1,500 toward exercise equipment or a gym membership, in addition to a $1,500 spa package and $500 cash.
Posted in: Hiring & Managing Employees