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Creating a Wellness Program

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With the tech shortage, it’s essential for shops to recruit the right people. And, as millennials are the main recruits coming into the workforce, shops need to tailor to what they want. According to a Qualtrics study, 64 percent of millennials say benefits are extremely or very important to employer loyalty. In other words, it’s important to provide an environment that enriches their lives.

Creating a wellness program for your shop is just one of the ways to do it, and there are professionals out there that can help you get there. In fact, Ratchet+Wrench sat down with an expert on creating a wellness program. Jason Busta, senior director of corporate wellness for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities (Minnesota), answers the most pressing questions on providing a wellness program in your shop.

What are the benefits for a small business, the employees, and even customers by having a wellness program?

There are numerous benefits for the business and employees. Studies show that healthy employees are more productive, take less sick days, and have less health issues in general; typically, this also leads to less health insurance claims, too. All of these benefits can have a major impact on a company’s bottom line. Employees really are the lifeblood of any organization—and healthy employees, in addition to all the reasons mentioned above, are generally more positive and happy employees, which improves customer service.

The Numbers

A report from Optum says organizations with engaged workers also tend to have employees who are 87 percent less likely to leave than organizations with low engagement.

How and why will providing a wellness program increase employee retention at a small business?

In a competitive job market, attracting and retaining talent is obviously a major challenge. And, oftentimes, there is only so much business owners can do to increase wages. By offering wellness benefits, it not only shows employees they are valued, but it truly can make a difference in keeping employees at a fraction of the cost of providing other benefits or increases in employee wages. 

The Numbers

An article Optum published found that engagement in employee wellness programs was linked to greater employee retention; 48% of employees that always or frequently participate in their employee wellness program are likely to recommend their employer. Only 18% of employees without an employee wellness program were likely to recommend their employer.

What should an employer add to their wellness program that will help address some of the health issues you listed above?

Employers can combat these issues in many ways. Some of the easy options include encouraging walking meetings, offering healthy snack options, like fresh fruit or oatmeal as an option vs. donuts, and having different water or tea options—a nice alternative to pop or other sugar-filled drinks. Shops can also offer wellness classes at the workplace, like yoga or meditation, if space permits, of course. Companies can encourage actions that promote activity outside of the workday. This could be giving employees reimbursement for joining a gym, paying  for a portion of a 5K race, creating a movement challenge between employees, even pairing a physical activity with volunteering, like Adopt a Highway or a camp clean-up.

In general, how does a business set up a wellness program? What steps does one have to take?

If you do not have anything in place currently, I recommend starting small to build up a program. First, identify one or two things you can do that will encourage healthy activity or behaviors. If you have employees that are very passionate about health, fitness, and wellness, leverage those individuals and make them a “wellness champion” for your business. Everyone is trying to do less with more, so do not be afraid to find out what options might be available for places in your community already, like a local community center or other workout facilities. For example, the YMCA can assist companies and help them come up with some areas to focus on to support your wellbeing program.

How much does an employee wellness program generally cost?

Costs can vary greatly—from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. Some companies put a lot of financial resources into a program and it can be expensive, and some organizations are just starting out and need a more affordable option. Per a Forbes magazine report, consider a 3-to-1 ratio—the average return on investment for an employee wellness program across industries and company sizes.

The Numbers

According to WellSteps, a proprietary wellness program platform, web-based tools to administer a wellness program typically cost between $3 and $7.5 per employee per month ($36 -$90/ year).

What types of wellness program plans are out there?

There are a wide variety of options for wellness plans for companies. They will vary depending on numerous factors for the business, including the number of employees, the budget, a timeframe in which a company wants and needs to implement a program, and a certain focus or passion of the company. The type of information will help guide a shop’s decision making. It can be very basic by offering a group fitness class one time or offering health food and drinks at staff meetings. A program can also be extremely elaborate and offer fitness tracking, fully paid health club memberships for staff, and on-site meditation, for example. Every organization has the opportunity to do more and encourage companies to consider options that make sense for their team.

What are some aspects an employer can include in their wellness program?

Options can cover a wide range of things such as having a chef-prepared healthy meals to simply swapping out sugar-filled drinks or having an outside vendor come provide a company-wide weight loss challenge, including weekly weigh-ins, on-site cooking classes and meal prep, and exercise classes. Another option that has been popular is “workout on us”—paying staff an hour of work time to go exercise.

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