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The benefits of office wellness programs

Small businesses account for about 4.6 million employees – 31% of working Canadians. These employers stand to benefit enormously from having healthy employees, since absenteeism, reduced productivity and other health-related costs cannot be absorbed as readily in small businesses as in large ones.

Wellness promoters are unanimous that, in order to succeed, a company program needs buy-in from the top. That means the owner has to do more than simply approve and pay for the program, owner engagement is critical for success. Getting buy-in from employees is also vital of course; be sure that the programs fits the employees needs and wants.

Besides promoting the program in-house, members could check where the nearest fitness club and yoga classes are located, and try to negotiate a group discount for employees who wish to join. The employer must ensure that the fitness trainer, nutritionist and other team members are qualified.

Communication is a key to the success of any wellness program. The company should raise employee awareness in advance of the program’s launch, through posters, company-wide e-mails, and even the creation of a website. Beyond building awareness, the company should attempt to introduce a program where each employee sets their own personal goals

Wellness activities should be fun and build camaraderie. Incentives, in the form of a draw among participants or prizes for the top achievers, can motivate employees. But along with being motivational, a wellness program should also be educational.

The final piece of the wellness puzzle is feedback and evaluation. The company should track the number of people taking part, monitor the impact on absenteeism and disability claims, and then, if necessary, revise the program.

Read the rest of Sheldon Gordon’s article to find out more on how small business can invest in wellness programs and the big benefits.

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