Corporate wellness programmes are becoming the norm as more and more companies recognise the advantages of having healthy employees. But in small businesses where budgets are tighter, these programmes often aren’t a priority. The irony is that in these start-up environments, employee burnout can happen even quicker than in large corporates – which makes a wellness programme even more important.
Ignoring your physical and mental health in favour of working yourself to the ground is something large corporates are realising is detrimental to productivity. But if you’re an entrepreneur who owns a small business, you most likely have a tight budget and resource constraints, which means you may find it harder to incorporate wellness into your company’s ethos.
It’s well worth doing though. Why? Absenteeism costs South Africa a whopping R16 billion per year*. In fact, 15%** of employees are absent from work on any given day!
So as a small business owner, how do you avoid these figures, and ensure happy healthy employees who are also productive?
The first step is not to think of corporate wellness as expensive – after all, we know not everyone can afford a company gym or personal trainers for every employee. However, there are other smaller measures that you can implement as an entrepreneur that will give you happier employees, lower staff turnover, increased productivity and fewer sick days.
Here are our suggestions:
1. Wellness Days
Many health problems can be prevented simply by education and providing awareness. Wellness Days at work are extremely convenient, as employees can have their BMI measurements taken and have tests for cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose without having to leave the workplace.
Any potential risks can then be identified and feedback given to them by an expert including any lifestyle changes they need to make.
2. Sitting is a Sin
We’re not designed to sit at a desk eight hours of the day; in fact, there’s even a new saying that “sitting is the new smoking”! 50-80% of people suffer from lower back issues and it is second only to headaches when it comes to painful disorders affecting humans.
Look at standing desks for some employees or invite a professional in to review the ergonomics or your staff members’ desks and chairs.
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3. Get Active
South Africa ranks amongst the most obese nations in the world, with 60% of people not doing any form of exercise.
There are many ways to encourage your employees to get more physically active:
- Buy everyone a pedometer and create a weekly competition where the person who walks the most steps receives a small prize or cash incentive.
- Encourage exercise during work time: start a running club during your lunch hour or encourage people to cycle to work.
- Enter races as a group and sponsor every km run as a company – funds raised can go towards a good cause.
4. Give them their weekends back
As much as there are occasional emergencies, make it company policy that people should not send work emails after certain hours and definitely not on a Saturday or Sunday.
If there are urgent things to attend to, insist on phone calls or SMS as a way of communicating. This way you and your employees can spend your weekends relaxing and recharging for the week ahead. In the same way, encourage employees to take annual leave, and don’t give them the option to cash the days in.
5. Healthy Eating and Drinking Options
If you do have canteen facilities, ensure that there are healthy meal options available such as salads, wraps and fruit rather than only burgers, chips or fried foods. Get a water fountain or cooler so that filtered cold water is available and employees have other options rather than only coffee and tea to drink.
Running a growing business makes each and every staff member integral to your success, so nurturing their quality of life will only impact positively on enhancing their professional output.