Whether you are a big or small business, workplace health matters. The number of small businesses (one to 19 employees) is growing and account for approximately 85 per cent of businesses in York Region (York Small Business Enterprise Centre).
Benefits of a wellness program
Research identifies numerous benefits of incorporating a comprehensive wellness program into the workplace to both the employer and employee.
How employees benefit
When small businesses focus on developing a culture of well-being, employees respond positively and report feeling healthier, happier and more satisfied in their job.
How employers benefit
Employers benefit from more productive employees with decreased absenteeism and staff turnover. This translates into a more profitable, resilient, growing business (Health Works – A 'how to' for health and business success, 2009).
A good starting point for small businesses is to make a commitment to build an organizational culture that supports wellness as a priority:
- Identify the health needs or interests of employees through an informal survey or discussion
- Engage a few interested employees in gathering this information and developing a plan to address some of the interest areas
- Access resources and information related to the topics from York Region's Community and Health Services website, Health Canada and other community agencies
- Post links to websites or have copies of resources available to employees to raise their awareness and skill level
Keep it simple
The wellness plan and activities do not have to be costly, extensive or complicated to be successful. For example:
- You can download posters to remind employees to stretch regularly, eat healthy snacks and increase their physical activity levels that will help them to reduce their stress level
- If possible, encourage employees to walk at breaks or arrange for a pedometer challenge to help them increase their activity level and stay well
- Post signs to remind employees to use the stairs and not elevators, to choose healthy foods at breaks and in vending machines to promote a healthy weight
- Where realistic, consider options like flexible work schedules, participating in workplace sports activities or offering subsidized gym memberships
There is an effective wellness plan that will meet a variety of workplace budgets. Many options and resources are available through York Region's Workplace Wellness program that can be suitable for a variety of small businesses.
Small business can make a difference in the health of their employees and the health of their business.
Additional Resources for Creating a Healthier Small Business
Healthy U – Government of Alberta
The Health Communication Unit
Workplace Strategies for Mental Health