Why small business wellness is the future

There are a lot of reasons why wellness programs can not only function in small businesses but can indeed thrive in these companies. Today, small businesses are the new frontier of workplace wellness.

7 Reasons Why Small Business Wellness is the Future

  1. Small business wellness has advantages

Small businesses have a lot of advantages over larger corporations. Small businesses are more nimble, they can react more quickly to changes in the market, they can produce new products and services on a faster timeline, and they are free from the layers of regulations and bureaucracy that encumber larger corporations.

Morale is typically higher because employees know that their boss cares about them and knows them personally. Where wellness  programs struggle to gain traction in large corporations, they typically flourish in small businesses.

Participation rates are generally higher, and the level of engagement in wellness programming is better in small businesses. In small businesses, wellness programs are easier to organize and easier to administer.

  1. We are a country of small businesses

Data show that 99.7% of all businesses in the United States have fewer than 500 employees. Of all the people working in the United States, 74% of them (172 million people) work in businesses with fewer than 500 employees. (In South Africa, the Quarterly Labour Force Surveys found 690 000 formal small businesses and 1,6 million informal ones in 1996).

Worksite wellness programs may have originated in the large corporations of America, but the size of the small business community suggests that wellness programs have only just begun to scratch the surface. All Americans will have better chance to improve their health once wellness programs become common in small businesses.

  1. Small business leadership is more visible

Small businesses have many unique characteristics and leadership support for wellness can vary greatly between groups.

Businesses that had strong leadership support for wellness had significantly better participation and dramatically better outcomes. Small businesses that have strong wellness leadership had almost twice the program participation.  Behavior change is also more likely with strong leadership.

Strong leadership support for wellness programs is more powerful in small businesses that it is in large businesses. Leaders of small businesses are seen by all employees. They interact with employees more often and they have much more involvement in the day-to-day operations.

Small business leaders can generate strong social support for wellness programming. Because they are more visible, their participation in the wellness programs is seen by all. Lastly, small businesses that have leadership support for wellness more often have effective and well-functioning wellness committees.

Getting leadership support is tricky. Many leaders claim they have valid reasons to not support wellness.  In this brief video, you will learn how to help leaders overcome many of the barriers they face when trying to support wellness.

  1.  Most brokers work with small and mid-size businesses

Insurance brokers and consultants are facing more competition for clients than ever before. Small businesses expect their brokers to understand the insurance industry and to advise them on the best ways to start and administer a worksite wellness program. Those brokers who work with competent wellness vendors and who understand wellness best practices will gain a clear competitive advantage.

They become trusted advisors. Since wellness is here to stay, brokers who understand and promote workplace wellness will have more business and keep their clients longer.

  1. Absenteeism has a big impact on small businesses

Absenteeism is defined as being absent from work and still getting paid. This only impacts salaried employees. Hourly employees don’t cost money when they are absent because they don’t get paid. But any absenteeism in a small business is a big deal.

In small businesses, many employees serve multiple roles within the organization. When a small business employee is absent, work requirements cannot always be absorbed by others because they may not have the skill set or the time to complete the needed work. Absenteeism in a small business has a much more profound effect on the bottom line than it does in a large organization.

Absenteeism in a large business is not as painful. With more employees the absence is more easily absorbed. With more employees, there is more duplication of efforts and abilities. With more employees there is rarely just one person, who is the only person, who can complete certain tasks. Perhaps one of the most important outcomes of an effective workplace wellness program is its ability to reduce employee absenteeism due to illness.

In 2001, a comprehensive review was published in which every study ever completed on the ability of worksite wellness programs to reduce employee absenteeism. Since then, we have learned small businesses are the perfect place to benefit from reduced absenteeism.

  1. Small businesses can now self-insure

It used to be that only large companies had the resources and size to self-insure the medical costs of their employees. This is important because companies that can self-insure spend less on healthcare costs. Companies that self-insure stand to gain more from having a worksite wellness program because any savings in healthcare costs that result from the program go directly to the company rather than to an insurance carrier.

Today, businesses as small as 50 employees can become self-insured. Because of that, small business wellness can now experience a financial return on investment that is similar to that of larger companies that are self-insured.

  1. Small business wellness is now affordable

Surveys and interviews report that in large companies the cost of worksite wellness is between $150 and $350 per employee per year. These large worksite wellness programs generally require full-time wellness staff, facilities, equipment, and generous incentive packages.

Development of new technologies, web-based approaches, and the ability to communicate via mobile devices has greatly reduced the cost of effective wellness programs.  What used to be an employee benefit for only the largest and most powerful corporations is now available to small businesses and at an affordable price.

By changing medical plan co-pays, deductibles, and premiums, brokers can find creative ways to lower this cost even more. In some cases, brokers may even supplement the cost of wellness for the small businesses they serve.

So What?

Published scientific research shows that small businesses can use worksite wellness programs to improve employee behaviors and lower elevated health risks. The staggering number of small and mid-size businesses in the United States suggests that small business wellness has the potential to touch almost every working adult. For all of the reasons described above, it’s likely that the number of small businesses doing wellness will increase dramatically.

Article adapted from original source: WellSteps




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