How to Build a Wellness Program in Your Small Business

With the rising costs of health care and the tangible benefits that come with living a healthy life style, it’s almost a no-brainier that implementing a wellness program in your small business can offer a potentially big payback. And don’t think that it will necessarily cost you big bucks. Just because you can’t afford to sponsor an expensive spa or gym membership for your employees nor provide extensive health-related workshops and other services, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a wellness program in your business.



You may be surprised by how far a little thought and creativity can go. If you are considering building a wellness program in your business, but need to do so on the cheap, then here are some tips to keep in mind:

First, take a look around. You need to take a real good look at your business and your employees and identify those key areas that need to be changed. Are there a lot of smokers in your business? What do break times look like? What do you and your employees eat, drink, or snack on? Does you business involve long periods of sitting or standing in one place? Pick one or two areas to start with.

Create space. Before you introduce any changes in your business, make sure that you prepare your employees and ask for their input. Having a discussion about some possible options for your wellness program is definitely a start. There are two main benefits to starting things in this way: first, your employees may offer many ideas for the wellness program that you could not have come up with on your own, and second, you want to get your employees excited about the program. If they “own” it, then there is a greater chance of it being a success.

Be flexible and creative. With a little flexibility and creativity, there are many healthy activities you can introduce in your business, and the best part is that these activities can also be great team builders. Some free or low-cost ideas to consider include:

  • Starting a walking, hiking, or biking group
  • Cooking healthy lunches together
  • Going as a group to a health fair
  • Setting fitness goals, such as losing weight, running a certain distance, quitting smoking

Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in one day as they say, and neither will your business’ wellness program. Old habits and patterns are typically the hardest to break, so make sure you introduce any changes slowly and deliberately.

Communicate and evaluate. If you really want your wellness initiatives to have a positive, lasting effect, then make it a point to both communicate with your employees and evaluate how the program is going. This will allow to tweak things along the way. If, for example, you started putting out healthy snacks, but these items aren’t being eaten, then find out why and see if there are alternatives. If you set group fitness goals, but your employees are having a hard time sticking to them, then maybe the goals were set too high.

In short, if you would like to start a wellness program in your business, but are afraid of what it might cost you, don’t sweat it. Those little, healthy changes can really go a long way.

Stressed Out, Depressed Employees = Sick Employees: Keeping Workers Healthy, Happy

Part of the fallout of all the economic uncertainty, the government’s petulant turf wars, and the day-to-day struggle with money, has been an overall increase of stress, anxiety, and depression among the majority of Americans.


There is a well-know correlation between chronic stress and anxiety and the increase of stress-related illnesses, and according to a recent PwC Health Industries Survey, as the number of Americans fighting depression, anxiety, and stress increases, stress-related health conditions have been on the rise. Moreover, this is all coming at a time when many have put off seeking health care in an effort to keep their health costs to a minimum.

So how can small business owners keep their employees happy and healthy, especially where money is an issue? Here are three tips to consider:

1. Make sure employees’ jobs are doable. As the economy drags its feet after our recent recession and subsequent “recovery,” many businesses, both big and small, have had to cut back on their workforce, often combining the jobs of two or three positions into one- and doing all this while offering lower compensation.

Where this is the case, business owners should seriously and deliberately keep an eye on their workers to ensure that their workload and responsibility level is still doable. Where it isn’t, then the cutback is no longer profitable, since much money will be lost due to a subsequent decrease in productivity, motivation, quality of work and overall employee loyalty. It is better to see where responsibilities can be reduced by either hiring another worker, outsourcing, or bringing in temporary help. Even changing a worker’s schedule to include more flextime or home-based work, can do wonders to employee moral, productivity, and ultimately health.

2. Institute a “wellness program.” Having a wellness program in place does not necessarily mean building an on-site gym or providing expensive health seminars to your employees; it means promoting a culture of health in the business.

Here are some ideas: organize business-wide outings to local parks or other rustic areas, keep an eye out for free or low-cost health services, events, and seminars in the area and let your employees know about them, re-examine the work breakdown schedule to ensure that a proper amount of vacation time and personal days are worked in, make break time fun and healthy with healthy office snacks, occasional potluck lunches, and even company games or stress relievers; institute “nap time” breaks- where employees can put their heads down and rest for a few minutes.

3. Care about your employees. Having healthy, happy workers often starts with a positive attitude. If you truly value your workers and their input, it will come across to them. But, you have to also make sure that your feelings are followed by actions, such as offering raises or bonuses when and where you can and keeping the lines of communication open between you and your workers. The worst thing you can do is give over the attitude to your workers that they should just be happy that they have a job, while you turn a blind eye to their issues and concerns.

New Businesses Lacking Job Creation

Now that the U.S. House of Representatives has decided not to extend long-term unemployment benefits past November, job creation is more urgent than ever. But recent statistics suggest that most new businesses are sole proprietorships or very small companies. Thus, new job creation remains elusive.


According to research by economists John Haltiwanger, Ron Jarmin, and Javier Miranda, new businesses are the key source of jobs in America. New businesses steer innovation and increase productivity, raising U.S. living standards in the long run.

While the recession has prompted many people to go into business for themselves, most of those newly created businesses are not the job generating kind. As of late, a large percentage of new businesses have been consultancies to other companies, or E-bay stores which are run by sole proprietors.

Traditionally, easy sources of start-up cash encouraged entrepreneurs to open businesses that quickly expanded by hiring employees. Trends have changed as the credit crisis causes banks to severely reduce credit card and home equity loans. Angel investors and venture-capital firms, previously strong sources of startup funding, have little cash to lend as they attempt to divest themselves of existing companies.

Other factors also inhibit new business creation. The wrangling in the federal government over healthcare leaves business owners unsure about employer responsibilities. They can’t project employee healthcare costs over the next few years. Additionally, tax laws, constantly in flux, leave potential employers wondering whether they will be able to afford to operate a business.

According to Jeffrey Sohl, director of the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire, a few fields stand out even in these troubled times. Biotechnology and healthcare draw money from both angel investors and pharmaceutical companies. He also points out that all businesses need less cash investment than they used to, due to rapidly dropping prices of software and hi-tech equipment.

Nonetheless, new businesses, and the new jobs they bring, are rising at a far slower rate than the economy demands.

Source: The Wall Street Journal