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HUMAN RESOURCES

Wellness Programs that Work for Small Businesses

A healthy workforce is a hard-working work force. Here are some practical programs that have worked for other businesses.
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You want a healthy workforce. Healthy employees miss less work, concentrate better when they are there, and cost you less in insurance fees. But, employees push back if you do things like CVS Pharmacies did--requiring employees to reveal personal health details or else pay extra towards their health insurance.

But, how to get people healthy? You have neither spare time nor spare money lying around. Here are some ideas that might help your business out.

Give people their weekends back. Healthcare consulting company Vynamic implemented a company policy that states: "To promote better balance, employees are to refrain from sending non-urgent emails to other employees between 10pm and 6am Monday through Friday, all day Saturday and Sunday, and all Vynamic holidays. In urgent matters, call or text is preferred over email." While recognizing emergencies do exist, they also stopped the constant flow of requests and information that prevented their employees from relaxing.

Make lunchtime fitness practical and possible. At Bandwidth, a communications technology company, rather than allowing employees 30 minutes to grab a burger and fries, they encourages 90 minute lunches, so that employees actually have time to hit the gym. They further encourage physical activity by sponsoring sports teams.

Health food, even at 2:00 a.m. Scripps Hospitals knows that people working in a fast paced hospital environment often count on vending machines for their food. So, rather than removing the unhealthy vending machines and making their employees hungry, they installed self-service kiosks from FITzee Foods, stocked with healthy food, including complete meals. In order to make it a bit more affordable, they subsidized the cost of the food, making it an even more attractive option. The end result? Weight loss and reduced health care costs for their employees. Plus, something better than a candy bar available on the overnight shift.

Appeal to their sense of competition. Manufacturing company Ashcroft implemented a year long fitness program that focuses on friendly competition. Employees can form teams or compete one on one in programs put together by GlobalFit. The length of the program is more likely to result in real changes than a single 5k run or month long fitness challenge. At the one year mark, Ashcroft has 68 percent of their employees voluntarily participating.

Outsource your wellness. Printpack does packaging, not fitness, so they lacked the expertise to design and carry out fitness programs, even though they knew that a healthy workforce was beneficial to their bottom line. So, they found a company that could take care of it for them--TourdeFit. No more negotiating contracts with fitness centers, or trying to find resources for their employees across the globe. Employees can find what is best for them, which makes people more likely to get in shape.

What wellness programs have worked for your business?

Last updated: May 6, 2013

SUZANNE LUCAS | Columnist

Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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