Employee Health and Wellness: 5 Easy Tips

Promoting workplace health at your small business improves productivity and eliminates absences. Here's a closer look at what business owners can do.

Wellness, company culture

Supporting employee health and wellness has benefits beyond just a healthy staff. Around 80 percent of companies offer some form of wellness benefit, and the average return on investment for these offerings is around three-to-one, Forbes reports.

What's the best way to start thinking beyond the typical approaches of preventative screenings and wellness seminars, and create programs that have a real impact on workplace health? Here's a closer look at five trends you can implement within your small business right now:

1. Embrace Flexible Work Arrangements
When sickness sweeps through the office, it grinds productivity to a halt. You can take proactive steps to keep illness out of the workplace by introducing (and encouraging) flexible working arrangements.

Some small businesses have had success with letting people who aren't feeling well telecommute if they don't want to take the day off. Work still gets done, but there's less risk of spreading the illness to other employees. Another option is allowing your employees to complete their work during off-hours, such as during the evening or over the weekend, when they're less likely to get others sick.

2. Hire a Health Coach
With stress being at the root of many health and performance problems, your employees may simply need some guidance to deal with it properly. According to Forbes, just 5 percent of employers offer stress reduction programs on-site.

One approach businesses are seeing results from is personalization. Every employee's health concerns may be different, and to address them, you can reimburse or organize sessions with a health coach. One person may be dealing with work stress, while another might need customized assistance with general anxiety. Meeting with a health coach provides workers with valuable access to individualized resources — and a road map to realistically achieve their goals.

3. Gamify Wellness
Gamification adds a dimension of healthy competition to the business of staying healthy. Technology has a gaming element, and it's possible to get people engaged by holding competitions using fitness trackers and nutrition apps.

Innovative companies are taking the spirit of wellness beyond technology and organizing friendly, community-focused charity games. Get your team out and active with a tennis tournament, a low-intensity 5K or a round of golf, and donate the proceeds to a worthy charity.

4. Create Fun Wellness Spaces
Whether you're trying to support your team's desire to de-stress or stay active, consider setting up a supportive employee break space. A sterile conference room with a refrigerator is hardly inspiring, so think about what would benefit your staff the most.

Many small businesses are having success with napping spaces and quiet areas for short meditations. Others encourage activity by buying equipment like a Wii Fit U to promote active, indoor fun.

5. Take a Creative, Seasonal Approach to Scheduling Events
Employee health is a year-round concern, and established programs can quickly become static. Consider taking a seasonal angle to fitness and health. For example, consider offering a zombie-themed race, a Turkey Trot, a Santa Scramble, support groups for New Year's resolutions or even "Get in Shape for Summer" programs. By tying your offerings to your employees' goals, you're more likely to engage them with creative, seasonal takes on events and programming.

Workplace health is a top concern, whether you're focused on getting your team moving or helping to keep sickness at bay. Consider ways you can think beyond static programs offered by your health insurance, and try everything from technology-based gamification to seasonal events. Your team will have support in reaching their health goals — and your bottom line will benefit, as well.