Worksite wellness: ways small businesses can promote health and wellbeing
Healthy, sustainable working practices are big news for big business, especially with Silicon Valley leading the way. But what about smaller businesses?
A considerable amount of employed Americans’ waking hours are spent at work. If that weren’t reason enough to improve workplace health and wellness, consider that productivity losses linked to employees who miss work cost employers $225.8 billion, or $1,685 per employee, each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention1.
The CDC estimates that 89%2 of US employees work for small companies (of 3-100 people), and that they’re the ones lacking capacity for the types of wellness programs offered by bigger businesses.
So if you’re a business owner who cares about staff wellness but can’t afford to implement costly changes, what can you do? I’ve been thinking about this for some time.
Today I’m going to offer a few suggestions for businesses who may not yet be in a position to start a complete wellness program, but want to take some steps in the right direction with a healthier company culture.
1. Home cooking recipe club
Obesity, heart disease, diabetes… they’ve all been linked to diet in one way or another. Thinking about wellness and food made a few of us in the team review our cooking habits. We quickly discovered that there was a whole lot of healthy eating expertise right here in the office waiting to be shared.
Home cooking recipe club is an email trail that we add to when we’ve made something delicious and healthy at home. From baked sweet potato with yogurt slaw to a humdinger of a healthy hotdog recipe, we’ve had some eye-opening contributions. Sometimes if we get lucky, the meals make it to work for a lunchtime bring-a-dish party.
2. Standing desks
Sitting down for long periods of time isn’t great for your health – ask any long distance truck driver. So why not give your people the option to work standing up for a while? When I looked at a few sites the other day, you could pick one up a standing desk for under $200 – less than the price of many office chairs (which you’re hopefully going to use less of).
Standing desks first became popular in the tech industry, where workplace wellness was also pioneered in the early 2000s. But they’ve been around way longer – did you know Hemingway used one?3 They apparently reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes and even cancer. Sounds like a good investment to me.
Do plants really make a difference? Heck yes! According to this article on the CIPHR website, as well as making employees feel more relaxed they can also boost morale and improve air quality. Many varieties of plant can live happily alongside your staff without too much effort from you. Succulents and cacti are easy to care for, while tough specimens like the spider plant will grow enthusiastically with basic care (think once-a-week watering and the occasional drop of plant food). You could even invite staff to bring their own from home if they like.
The companies I mention or link to in this post are just examples that I thought you’d find useful – I don’t endorse them or their services. I have no affiliation with them and make no representation about their services.
1Using the Workplace to Improve the Nation’s Health At A Glance 2015, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (accessed 09.04.17), https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/workplace-health.htm
2CDC’s Workplace Health Program, CDC, (accessed 08.04.17), https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/pdf/whp-future-directions-update.pdf
3Five Health Benefits of Standing Desks, Joseph Stromberg, Smithsonian Magazine, (accessed 09.04.16),http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/five-health-benefits-standing-desks-180950259/