By Emily Suess

Wellness programs are great for employees and small business owners. When your workforce is healthy, absenteeism drops and you save more on insurance fees. Plus your employees are happier, healthier, and more productive. You can encourage your employees to achieve greater wellness without breaking the bank, and your business and your staff will both reap the benefits.

Say No to Weekend Work

In some retail-based business, weekend hours are a necessity, but for other small businesses weekend work is just part of the busy culture. Remind everyone that busy isn’t best. Consider implementing email-free weekends. Let your staff relax or attend to non-work related concerns instead of stressing over what will be waiting for them Monday morning if they don’t constantly keep one eye on their inbox. The entire atmosphere of your business could change for the better as a result. Keeping anxiety to a minimum is good for everyone’s health.

Make Healthy Food Choices Convenient

Take control of what snacks are offered onsite. Can you find a vending machine company that lets you choose what items are stocked? If so, be sure to select options that provide natural energy when your employees need a boost. Some companies also make access to healthy dinners quick and convenient. Instead of hitting that fast food chain on the way home for a quick bite, employees can order freshly prepared meals or take-and-bake dinners at the office and pick them up on their way out the door in the evening.

Make Lunch Time Healthier

Provide enough time for your employees to eat without inhaling their food and encourage them not to work through lunch. By giving employees at least an hour break, they can step away from the monitor, go for a walk, clear their heads, and reduce workday stress. Maybe you could work even longer lunches into schedules for employees that would like time to hit the gym.

Organize a Team

There are plenty of opportunities for your employees to be active together. Consider organizing recreational teams for softball, bowling, golf, volleyball, kickball, and other active games. Then challenge other businesses in your community to join the fun. Organize a week-long tournament or start a seasonal league.

Introduce Some Friendly Competition

As an alternative to team-based activities, you could start a friendly competition among individual employees. Provide pedometers to see how many steps each person can take during the month, or start a Biggest Loser-style challenge with a healthy pitch-in and recipe swap.

You could also get individual employees to sign up for an upcoming charity run or walk. As an incentive, offer a fun prize, a framed certificate of accomplishment, or even a small medal for everyone who crosses the finish line.

When it comes to creating a wellness program at your business, there are lots of options. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money on your program, but you do have to make it a priority.