A Home-Run Strategy for Increasing Workplace Wellness

Promoting your employee's physical and mental well-being is also an investment in your small business's future.
Brainstorm employee wellness initiatives that are fun and will keep your staff engaged. (Photo: Rawpixel.com)

Every business wants happy and healthy employees. People who prioritize self-care feel better physically and mentally, which boosts attendance, morale and productivity in the workplace. Unfortunately, many people struggle to incorporate healthy habits into their daily routine, such as eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.

Maria Vathis Head shot

“A small business owner has a unique opportunity to know his or her employees on a personal level and to show a genuine caring about them as people.”    -Maria Vathis (Photo: Maria Vathis)

While extensive employee wellness programs are all the rage in large corporations, creating an environment that celebrates a healthy lifestyle is achievable for a small business, too.

“A small business owner has a unique opportunity to know his or her employees on a personal level and to show a genuine caring about them as people,” said Maria Vathis, president-elect of the Federal Bar Association, who is dedicating her presidential term to workplace wellness.

By investing in the well-being of your employees, your business can decrease accidents, health-care costs and employee turnover. Here are a few easy and affordable steps to promoting a healthy lifestyle for your team.

Consider your employees’ interests

When thinking of ideas for your small business’s wellness program, “Start by asking your employees what they would like most,” advised Vathis.

While some people love spending time the gym or taking a fitness class, others prefer outdoor activities like hiking or riding bikes. Collaborating with your staff will help you gauge interest and come up with creative ideas customized to fit your company culture. Plus, taking their feedback to heart will help build better relationships with your employees.

“A good workplace wellness program will involve its employees in the solution,” echoed Karl Monger, founder and director of the nonprofit veteran support network GallantFew. “Workplace wellness is a part of your culture and needs leadership and input from both employer and employees. A successful program will organically evolve as you begin to set strategies in place and implement through example.”

Related: How to Create a Culture of Kindness in Your Small Business

Provide high-quality snacks


Instead of offering free chips and cookies for employee snacks, stock your business with dried fruits and nuts to promote healthier snacking. (Photo: All for your friend/Shutterstock)

You can promote healthy eating habits for your staff by being intentional about the kinds of food and drink you provide in your break room. Instead of candy bars, chips and cookies, consider stocking your vending machine or snack baskets with granola or breakfast bars, roasted nuts, dried fruit and popcorn. For drink options, you could replace sodas with bottled water, fruit juices and flavored sparkling water.

Again, remember to discuss these changes with your staff and find out what their preferences are for healthy snacks. If you decide to keep a few low-quality snack items, just limit those options and make sure to have healthy alternatives available for those who want them.

Related: 4 Tips for Keeping Your Break Room From Looking Like a War Zone


“Create a reward-based environment, and don’t be shy about recognizing wellness achievements.” -Karl Monger (Photo: KarlMonger)

Make it fun

According to Monger, wellness in the workplace shouldn’t be boring. Think of a variety of fun and creative opportunities to keep staff engaged with their health throughout the year.

“Provide opportunities to perform wellness initiatives together, as well as independently,” he suggested. “Create a reward-based environment, and don’t be shy about recognizing wellness achievements.”

Think out of the box

Hiring a yoga instructor or fitness coach for your staff can get pricey, so think of ways you can creatively cut your costs. For example, if one of your super shoppers is a fitness instructor, consider offering them a standing discount in exchange for teaching a weekly class to your employees. Or, if one of your staffers is an outdoor enthusiast, ask for his or her help in organizing a monthly fun run, club kickball team or hiking trip.

Related: 6 Cool Employee Perks Your Small Business Can Afford

Partner with a charity


Charity runs and health challenges — such as GallantFew’s event Run Ranger Run — are a great way to motivate employees to get active. (Photo: GallantFew)

Monger also recommended finding a charity to get involved with that fits your company culture and wellness initiatives.

“Remember that wellness is more than just physical appearance. It is the emotional, social and spiritual state of your employees, as well.”

For example, every year GallantFew hosts a month-long event called “Run Ranger Run” where businesses can form teams and commit to achieving 565 miles as a group within one month.

“People have fun challenging each other and themselves throughout the month,” he said. “Everyone had so much fun. They were active, and they were also giving back to a charitable cause.”

Think long term

“Wellness is a long-term commitment,” said Monger. “Don’t establish an uninspired workplace wellness program and then not lead a lifestyle worthy of example. Behavior modification takes time and needs to be reinforced relentlessly with dedicated leadership and unwavering commitment.”

Related: How Serving Others Makes You an Exceptional Leader

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