Don't Overlook Wellness When Building Your Business

It's hard to nab top talent when you're a small business. One way to lure people in is by offering an employee wellness program.

learn more about Alan Kohll

By Alan Kohll


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Studies show that 93 percent of small businesses believe employee health is good for their bottom line. And they're right. A strategic focus on employee health can help businesses grow.

So why do only 22 percent of small businesses actually have wellness programs? Maybe these programs (and the buzz about crazy-expensive wellness perks) seem like they're just for big companies with lots of people on the payroll.

Even for the smallest of companies, though, employee wellness programs can improve productivity, help with talent acquisition and retention and increase brand recognition - all of which support business growth and can help small businesses get ahead without sinking too much money into a new initiative.

Wellness programs increase productivity.

Small businesses have fewer employees. That's just simple math. Because of the smaller workforce, it's incredibly important for small businesses to maximize employee efficiency and productivity, as well as improve employee relationships. All of these things help small businesses avoid wasted time and resources on training and conflict resolution.

Implementing an employee wellness program can help small businesses in several ways. For starters, healthy employees can physically perform better. Healthier people have more energy, work more efficiently and may even be more focused. All of these things affect individual employee productivity.

On top of improved individual productivity, a wellness program may also benefit relationships among employees. People, who take steps toward a healthy lifestyle, are happier, which means they're easier to work with. Wellness activities can also serve as valuable bonding exercises that can help create and nurture these employee relationships.

Related: Are Wellness Programs Right for Your Company?

Finally, employee wellness programs have been shown to actually lower corporate costs. Reductions in insurance costs, fewer used sick days and healthier employees add up. Wellness programs boast an average return on investment (ROI) of about three to one.

Companies that maximize individual productivity, nurture employee relationships and control corporate spending are well on their way to growing their businesses.

Wellness programs help with talent acquistion.

Having a smaller workforce also presents unique challenges when it comes to recruitment. It's important to find quality employees, but that can be a challenge without a lot of expendable resources to allocate toward salaries, sign-on bonuses and employee perks.

In addition to the direct employee health benefits wellness programs offer, they also boast psychological benefits that can serve as a corporate differentiator. Wellness programs are known to boost employee morale, which aids in recruiting and retaining talented employees.

A wellness program is one way a company can go beyond health insurance and traditional benefits to show its investment in employees. A company willing to spend time and resources on employee health is a company that cares about its employees. People recognize that and, in turn, feel good knowing their employer values them.

The efforts of a company's investment in employee health can have an impact beyond your current employees. Companies can use its wellness programs for recruitment in a couple of different ways.

First, it illustrates that employees matter to the company. The benefits of a wellness program can be used to differentiate a company from competitors and nab top talent that might otherwise have gone elsewhere.

Related: Watch What Happens When You Invest in Employee Wellness

Second, more and more talented millennials step foot into the workforce each day. In fact, a Pew study reports that they now comprise the largest share of the American workforce. As millennials continue to make their mark on the way we do business, they're going to drive conversations about the landscape of employee benefits.

Millennials' values are quite different from previous generations. This generation wants more than just a job. They want opportunities for personal growth, strong relationships and work lives that meld seamlessly with their personal lives.

A wellness program contributes to the "more" factor of a job. It helps complete the package and turn a good job into the great job talented employees are seeking.

Wellness programs increase brand recognition.

Another challenge small businesses face is that they don't often have a recognizable brand, which can be an incredibly difficult shortcoming. But because many elements of an employee wellness program happen outside the office, having such a program is a great tool for building brand recognition. All it takes is a little outside-the-box thinking.

Instead of building a gym at the office, companies can work with a local gym to offer employees a discounted membership rate. Instead of catering healthy lunches every day, companies can organize a community garden that's open to the public. Instead of hiring an in-house fitness instructor or committing to fitness club subsidies or reimbursements, companies can offer employees one-off opportunities, such as signing up for a community walk or race together.

Related: 5 Ways to Reboot Your Wellness Program

All of these ideas are not only great options for developing business relationships, but they're also great opportunities to get employees in the public eye as they work toward their health goals. Give wellness program participants a branded shirt or water bottle to take with them as they participate in wellness activities throughout the community to increase visibility of your company name.

Ultimately, employee wellness is about the health and happiness of individual employees. With a smaller workforce and corporate footprint, small businesses face unique challenges. Implementing a wellness program is a cost-effective strategy to aid in business growth because healthy, happy employees build healthy, happy companies.

Alan Kohll

Founder and President of TotalWellness

Alan Kohll has been working in the corporate wellness space for over 18 years. He is the founder and president of TotalWellness, a national corporate health and wellness services provider. With a network of over 6,000 health professionals, TotalWellness provides employee health services including biometric screenings and flu shot clinics to companies across the country.

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