Health Promotion Strategy for the Small Business
In the United States, a small business is identified as an independent company that employs less than five hundred employees. It is estimated that approximately fifty percent of industry in the U.S. belongs to this category.
Of these businesses, fifty-nine percent of companies which have less than 200 people employed have not made health care benefits available to their staff. In addition, the same companies that do not offer health care also cannot afford to provide on-site environmentally-friendly support and controls.
Furthermore, because employee health promotion strategies, health risk appraisals and screening tools are largely provided by health insurance companies, small businesses’ access to programs that promote wellness at work is greatly diminished.
How a Health Promotion Strategy Benefits a Small Business
Ultimately, about half of the American workforce would befall some serious financial setbacks should they become injured or ill. Moreover, because employees who benefit from wellness at work enjoy greater job satisfaction, report higher company morale, have increased productivity levels and experience less accidents than employees who do not have access to workplace health promotion programs, it has become a matter of public concern that they are deprived of an opportunity for a healthier lifestyle.
Despite these somewhat discouraging statistics, establishing a health promotion strategy in smaller businesses is not an impossible task. Additionally, smaller companies have advantageous conditions that larger conglomerates do not have that could facilitate an efficient, more integrated implementation of workplace health promotion programs.
Wellness at Work and the Small Business: Perceived Disadvantages
Starting a business on your own is a risky venture. Start-up costs weigh heavily on a limited budget or borrowed money and rely on ingenuity to recover profits. Employees juggle many responsibilities and anything outside of financial survival is often viewed as an extravagance.
Meaningful relationships are not yet established between new staff. The idea of investing in employees is not as much of a priority as investing in the longevity of the business.
Companies who have very few employees find issue with maintaining the privacy of employee health risk information. Health risk appraisals delve into details of employee lives and they may not feel that it is possible to protect their confidentiality when there are so few other health risks present in the population.
Wellness at Work and Small Business: Building Advantages
Smaller companies have fewer bureaucratic layers to go through during the process of designing employee wellness at work programs. The decision affects less people and fewer managers are required to approve any workplace health promotion strategies. It is less expensive to screen, track and evaluate health risks in a smaller population.
Leadership within the company is often more centralized and has a greater effect than it would in a bigger business with the authority diluted into multiple categories. Implementation of employee health promotion strategies may be more personal and readily accessed with less differential needs to meet. A family atmosphere more likely characterizes a smaller environment than a larger one and would, therefore, increase the motivation to participate in a program to promote wellness at work.
Smaller companies often cannot afford to designate a staff member to supervise wellness at work, fund specialized training or integrate the workplace health promotion strategy to any great extent. Extracting links to evaluative data for tracking purposes and customizing wellness at work initiatives according to employee health risk profiles is a fulltime job.
Clearly, these disadvantages could be eliminated with some government assistance to balance the books. Experts agree that legislation to extend tax credits to smaller companies who provide wellness at work programs is needed. Government sponsored health care could be offered to smaller companies who qualify for a basic program.
Because smaller companies are isolated in their health promotion strategies, creating a support system would increase their likelihood of success. North Carolina has a task force called Healthy Carolinians whose mandate is to weave partnerships in the state for the purpose of extending employee wellness at work opportunities to everyone.
They have a resource pool that includes training, workshops and collaborative efforts with health care institutions, higher education settings and state programs at little or no cost to use.
Small Business Health Promotion Strategies: A Slow Start Beats No Start
During the first few years, when funds are short, a small on-site employee health and wellness program committee made up of interested volunteers from the employee population can plan and initiate the health promotion strategy. These volunteers can develop a prioritized framework for building improvements to the program once funds are available.
Many wellness at work initiatives, health promotion materials and screening tools are available free of charge for exactly this type of endeavor. Surveying the group to determine the top five health care issues/interests/expenses across all ranks of employees establishes a priority list. Re-visiting this record each year is free and would keep the workplace health promotion strategy representative of the employee health and wellness program needs.
Locating Resources for the Health Promotion Strategy
Access to data relating to other successful workplace health promotion initiatives is available from Wellness Proposals, an independent wellness vendor whose service model emphasizes integration of opportunities for employee wellness at work programs across the United States.
Other external links that provide academic up-to-date information are: The Community Guide, Cancer Control Planet, and Healthier Worksite Initiative which are sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Writer Bio: Written by John Bates for Wellness Proposals. John is a former insurance agent who spent more than 20 years specializing in employee benefits and group health insurance. John’s writing about Corporate Health Promotion and Worksite Wellness Programs articles can also be found on the Infinite Health Coach and Infinite Wellness Solution’s websites.