Written by Pete Morano on August 15, 2013
Categories: Blog Posts

If you’re like most small businesses, your worksite wellness program budget is small (or maybe even non-existent), and it’s important that you’re spending what funds you do have as efficiently as possible.

Developing health and wellness programs for employees is extremely important for businesses, both large and small. Most people spend a majority of their waking hours at work, which means they make many of their choices about their fitness and nutrition in the office. Your team needs to be performing at its best, and giving them a way to relieve some stress, get a little exercise and feel great during the workday will make them happier and more productive — not to mention that they’ll appreciate you looking out for their well-being.

Although it would be great if every company could install an onsite gym and hire a full-time nutrition coach to facilitate a healthy workplace environment, there are certainly less expensive ways to make a difference in the health of your company. A few simple initiatives that don’t cost a dime — like implementing a no-smoking plan or a walking program — can have a huge impact on productivity and morale.

Designing Your Wellness Program: Ideas To Get Started

The most important part of launching a wellness program is to form a committee that can oversee the project. Ask for employees to volunteer to take change of the initiative so that they can make and track the monthly and yearly goals for the company. It’s also important to conduct an employee interest survey to see what types of initiatives your employees want. Every business is going to have different needs.

Next, you need to set different goals and objectives for each aspect of the wellness program that you’re going to implement. Do you want to decrease the number of smokers in the office? Do you want to get people to bring healthier lunches? To take more breaks to stretch and walk around? You need to be sure to define those measures of success so that everyone is on the same page.

Here are a few low-cost ideas for getting started:

  • Send out healthy tips and recipes through your company intranet, newsletter or bulletin boards around the office
  • Sponsor a corporate fitness challenge and give employees a simple task each week that they must complete to be entered for a health-related prize — like new workout gear or a standing desk (The Momentum team is doing one right now!)
  • Subsidize the cost of your most healthy food options in the break room or impose a “Twinkie tax” on less healthy items
  • Organize a company-wide healthy food potluck once a month for lunch
  • Schedule 5-10 minute stretch breaks throughout the day and set aside time to do a little stretching before departmental meetings
  • Participate in community walks and fitness events, and match employee contributions
  • Measure distances around the office and put together walking maps to help employees set daily walking goals
  • Provide bike storage for employees that want to ride their bikes to work
  • Give rewards to employees who don’t smoke
  • Allow employees to telecommute a few days a week, especially during seasons of sickness to reduce absenteeism and the spread of germs

Implementing Your Program: Employee Buy-In

As with any initiative, it’s important to make it clear that management is excited about the wellness program or it’s not going to be successful. Make sure that managers are making healthy lifestyle choices themselves so that they can lead by example, and then ask them to encourage employees to participate.

Try to think of fun ways to market the program to employees. One great way is to start off by launching a health challenge where employees can make healthy changes at work and at home to compete for a prize. Once the competition is over, it’s easy to keep the program going and continue encouraging lifestyle changes because everyone will already be used to it.

Hope Health has put together a step-by-step guide for creating a successful worksite wellness program. Check it out and see if there’s something in it that can help improve your company’s health. And let us know if you have any tips for how to design a wellness program for your employees. We’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!