7 Reasons Why Small Business Wellness is the Future

This was originally published by WellSteps on January 10, 2018. You can find the complete original post here.

  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.

Most small businesses are still family-owned and even if they are not family-owned, they still behave like families. In a small business, every employee is important. “We’re family” is a common way small businesses describe themselves. Because they act like families, employees have a sense of belonging in these companies.

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 from the most recent census shows that 99.8% 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.

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

WellSteps carefully measured leadership support and carefully tracked wellness program participation and individual behavior change. Small businesses have many unique characteristics and leadership support for wellness can vary greatly between groups.

We quickly discovered that businesses that had strong leadership support for wellness had significantly better participation and dramatically better outcomes. You can see these differences in the graphs below. 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.

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

Insurance brokers and consultants are facing more competition for clients than ever before. Changes to the insurance industry associated with the Affordable Care Act mean that brokers need additional training and expertise. That expertise now extends into the world of wellness.

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 while still getting paid. This only occurs with salaried employees ashourly employees are only paid for the hours they are at work. But any absenteeism in a small business can be 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.

Stated another way, workplace wellness programs can have a larger impact on employee absenteeism than they do on healthcare costs.  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.

If you and your business – whether big or small – is interested in starting or boosting your Worksite Wellness program look no further! Activate Buffalo County offers a County-wide Worksite Wellness Membership. Through your membership, you and your employees can reap the benefits of partnerships that encourage wellness in their workplace! Interested? Sign-up here!