Employee health is a major concern for small business owners. In a small shop, even a few sick workers can disrupt the flow of the workplace and bring the operation to a standstill.
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Instead of sitting back and hoping for the best, some owners are taking the matter of employee health into their own hands by starting employee wellness programs. Here's how they work . . .
Overview of employee wellness programs
Employee wellness programs are programs initiated by the employer to improve the overall health of their labor force and to help individual employees overcome specific health-related hurdles. These programs can be offered in a variety of formats: In mandatory staff training sessions, as voluntary seminars, or through a third-party provider offering a wide-range of employee assistance programs.
In every case, however, the employer foots the bill for the programs because an investment in employee health is a business investment that directly impacts the company's bottom line.
Why offer employee wellness programs?
Apart from the obvious concern for the health of your employees, there are several other reasons why employee wellness programs make sense for small businesses. Right off the bat, your business will benefit from the decreased level of absenteeism that goes hand in hand with a healthy workforce.
Wellness programs will also reduce the number of injuries that occur in the workplace, not just from accidents, but also from repetitive motion and other recurring sources. Since even a minor blip in worker attendance can have a big impact on a small company, a more reliable workforce will inevitably translate into a smoother work cycle and a more robust bottom line.
Wellness Program Features
Wellness programs can cover a broad range of health-related topics. Based on your employees' needs, it's entirely up to you to determine the kind of programming you want to offer. However, most employee wellness programs offer some at least some programs in the following areas:
- Nutrition. Diet can significantly impact an employee's ability to do their job effectively. Nutritional programs educate employees about food options and equip them to make healthy dietary choices.
- Physical Fitness. In addition to diet, exercise is an important factor in a healthy lifestyle. Wellness programs frequently provide employees with opportunities to incorporate exercise into their daily lives.
- Smoking Cessation. Statistics prove that smokers tend to fall ill more frequently than their non-smoking peers. Since sick employees disrupt the workplace, smoking cessation programs are a no-brainer for both employers and employees.
- Physiological Testing. Many employers offer physiological as a regular part of their wellness programs. Cholesterol tests, blood pressure screenings, and other simple exams can provide early warning signs for more serious problems.
- Stress Management. Stress itself takes a toll on employees. However, stress is also linked to other health problems such as depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Wellness programs that help employees deal with stress improve not only the psychological health of your employees, but their physical health as well.