Are Employee Wellness Schemes Worth It for SMBs?

Corporate wellness schemes are all the rage right now. Some of the biggest businesses of the digital age have pioneered the idea of placing emphasis on the worker’s health, as this “How we care for Googlers” page attests.

Employe wellness scheme

Recently, fellow tech giant SAP began giving all employees FitBit devices in order to help them track their progress in the company fitness program. With such clear support from the larger businesses in the world, is it time for small and medium businesses to follow suit?

What works well with office wellness programs

Though these large companies likely have plenty of money to spare, it’s safe to say that employee fitness and wellness schemes would never have caught on in the way they did if they were not successful in some way.

One of the key benefits of running a fitness program at work is that there is some evidence to prove that employees are more likely to stick to their regimes, diets and targets if others are doing it with them.

Celebrity personal trainer Jon Denoris bases his Pop Up Gym corporate fitness program on the theory that the positive peer pressure from coworkers will improve the effectiveness of any fitness training.

There’s more to it than fitness, though. It’s significant that industry giant SAP has introduced a corporate wellness program, because those working in the sector often have contractor jobs. This arrangement carries the risk of alienating full time employees from contractors, with the consultant seeming like a lone wolf rather than a true part of the team. “Getting the right team” is essential in effective SAP implementation, and encouraging team integration is a great way to bolster productivity.

Inviting freelancers to participate in employee wellness schemes will help integrate them into the company, and really bring the team together. This is true across the board, for businesses in all kinds of industries — not just SAP and tech.

How easy are corporate wellness programs to set up?

If any of that sounds appealing to you as a small business CEO, your next thought probably concerns the cost. The good news is you don’t have to buy FitBits for everyone who works at your company. That might be more affordable than you think though, as FitBit offer special corporate discounts to participating companies. This is one of the reasons Fast Company has hailed FitBit as “the next big thing in corporate wellness.”

Still, no matter how much discount you can get on FitBits, it’s still always going to be cheaper not to buy them. Luckily, FitBit-free corporate fitness programs are popular and successful too.

Harold Jackson, CEO of a medical equipment company in Colorado called Buffalo Supply, actually started a corporate wellness program without even having a plan, let alone a bucketload of FitBits. As Jackson told Inc. magazine, Buffalo Supply’s corporate wellness program didn’t start overnight after one big decision. Instead, it was an incremental thing — the culmination of many smaller decisions he and others at the company made about improving the health of the workforce over time.

This low-risk way of slowly introducing a wellness program could be perfect for the small business with a smaller budget. Once you introduce healthy snacks, and offer incentive to curb unhealthy behaviours like smoking, introducing a fitness training element will come naturally, and this is something you could even run yourself with online resources.

Is corporate wellness worth it for your business?

It might be financially feasible for businesses big and small, but is it really worth it? It might not necessarily have to cost a lot, but there’s no point spending anything at all if your business will see no benefit from it.

The likelihood is though that you will. Studies show that physical exercise can improve mental activity meaning you may see improved work performance from your workforce once they are more in shape. Memory, mental health, creativity and concentration can all be improved alongside bodily fitness, according to a study published in the Guardian.

As mentioned earlier, taking part in a corporate wellness program together could really help unite your team and build relationships. The problem with these kind of benefits is that they are very difficult to measure and quantify. You may notice an improvement in morale, or quality of work, but it is difficult to tell how much this was down to a corporate wellness program, and it is difficult to decide whether the benefit was worth the cost. If you take the view of many small business owners, though, you can’t put a price on employee satisfaction.

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