10 Essential Things Small Businesses Can Do To Promote Better Health

  1. Issue a letter of support from the CEO

Let your employees know that workplace wellness is a priority to everyone in the company, including the CEO. Communicating & modeling that there is support from the top helps to set the tone for the entire initiative.

2.  Designate a company wellness leader

The wellness leader can be identified from within your already-existing group of employees. Many times, it’s appropriate for your Human Resource coordinator to take on these responsibilities—but that’s not necessarily a hard and fast rule. Indeed, there are plenty of instances where the wellness leader is an administrative assistant or a passionate employee.

3.  Conduct an employee health interest survey

Once the owners and managers have bought into the concept, and a company wellness leader has been designated, the next undertaking is to conduct an employee health interest survey. In addition to garnering buy-in, the health interest survey will provide you company’s wellness leader with important insight as to what specific programs employees are most interested in. By conducting an employee health interest survey, small businesses can learn a lot from their own people—and virtually guarantee that the wellness program will be embraced by all.

4.  Provide an opportunity for health screening

This step is a critical one for small businesses because it provides employees with an important opportunity to assess and better understand their own personal health status. Without an opportunity to participate in an annual health screening, many employees will not adequately understand their “numbers” such as blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, etc. And if your employees don’t understand their own health status, they place themselves at greater risk for experiencing problems—many of which could have been prevented.

5.  Administer an annual physical activity campaign

If you want to have healthier employees, it’s critical to get them up and moving—and an ideal way to do it in a small business setting is by administering an annual physical activity campaign. Specifically, incentive campaigns are designed to increase the amount of time your employees are physically active during the day by creating a series of mini-challenges. And, if employees complete these challenges, they receive certain incentives. Fun and easy to coordinate, incentive campaigns should be considered an essential part of any small business wellness program.

6.  Hold lunch and learns

We believe that small businesses would benefit greatly by offering their employees healthy eating seminars. Not only are these seminars informative, but they can be a lot of fun as well. For example, imagine how your employees will respond when you bring in a healthy cooking chef that prepares a special meal right before their very eyes. Using healthy—but common—ingredients, the chef can educate your employees on how to prepare the dish, how to make it taste good, and how to make it nutritionally sound. Trust us on this one, this seminar will be a homerun.

7.  Establish an in-house wellness library

Because good health is predicated on sound information, small businesses can take a significant step toward promoting better health by providing their employees with opportunities to learn more about prevention right at the workplace. A good library will include things like medical self-care books, health magazines, instructional DVD’s, audio books, and a variety of newsletters, pamphlets, and behavior change guides. To ensure that the information gets read, it’s a good idea to put the lending library in a commonly traveled spot. Comfortable chairs and good lighting are also highly recommended. Remember, the key is to get people comfortable and reading and/or watching and listening.

8.  Disseminate a quarterly health newsletter

Regular health information can greatly assist employees in their quest to become healthier. A good health newsletter will cover a variety of topics like physical activity, weight management, stress reduction, tobacco cessation, and medical self-care. It helps if the newsletter is available in full-color and is easy-to-read—preferably a 6th or 7th grade reading level. To make sure that the newsletter gets absorbed, you may want to consider offering a brief quiz that asks a variety of questions about the information contained in the actual newsletter itself. The participant can put their name on the quiz and submit it to be registered as part of a drawing for something special. For example, if you have 45 employees, you could very well get an 80% response rate to your health quiz and the winner could walk away with something like dinner for two at a healthy eatery

9.  Implement health-promoting policies

Because company policies can have an enormous impact on employee health status, we would recommend implementing healthy policies and procedures into the actual policy manual. By incorporating healthy policies and procedures into your business operations, your company further demonstrates its commitment to the concept of providing a safe and healthy workplace for all. Specifically, every small business should consider four basic policies at a minimum. These policies include: mandating a tobacco-free workplace, promoting an alcohol/drug-free environment, requiring seatbelt use by all, and formulating safety/emergency procedures in the event of a disaster. Although not traditionally thought of as important, healthy policies should not be overlooked by small business leaders who are attempting to improve the health and well-being of their company.

10.  Promote community health efforts

A final way that small businesses can promote healthier behaviors is by supporting community events. Needless to say, there are numerous events like fun-runs, health fairs, and educational seminars (just to mention a few) that can be promoted and communicated to your employees. This is very important just due to the simple fact that most community health events are usually best kept secrets. By establishing a listing of health promoting events each month, small businesses can take important steps toward increasing the health and well-being

Employees in small business settings often have access to fewer benefits than do the employees who work in larger business settings. This means that a lot of people who work in small business settings don’t have legitimate access to healthcare—and with a rapidly aging population, that’s a precarious situation at best.

—Dr. David Hunnicutt, WELCOA President