Lack of information and specific programs are cited as reasons small businesses are not embracing wellness programs.
This trend is demonstrated in a new study whose results show most small businesses don’t offer health and wellness programs to their employees.
However, three of four that do offer such programs find the initiatives have a positive impact on their employees and bottom line.
That’s one of the key conclusions of a study of more than 1,000 small-business owners by Humana Inc. one of the nation’s leading health and well-being companies, and the National Small Business Association (NSBA), America’s longest-running small business advocacy organization.
The study aimed to uncover health and wellness needs and barriers facing small businesses in today’s post-recession business recovery.
Key findings include:
- An overwhelming 93 percent of the respondents consider their employees’ physical and mental health to be important to their financial results, but only one-third express confidence in their ability to help employees manage their well-being.
- More than half surveyed maintained that insufficient information is available that pertains to small businesses introducing health and wellness programs.
- Startups - those companies less than 10 years old - are leading the way with 31 percent having already adopted health and wellness programs.
(Note: This survey defined health and wellness programs as initiatives aimed at encouraging employees to make healthier choices such as getting preventative care, eating right and exercising.)
“We’re encouraged that employers recognize the importance of wellness programs, and through our collaboration with the NSBA intend to provide information that small businesses can use to help address the wellness barriers they identified,” said Jerry Ganoni, President of Humana’s Small Business Division.
A key factor in small business owners’ decision about whether or not to introduce a health and wellness program rests with employee interest.
Interestingly enough, startups find their employees, many of them younger, actually prefer and pursue such offerings.
65 percent of these startups say wellness programs are worth the investment and 31 percent are already adopting such programs.
Nearly half of startups say these programs aid in recruiting and retaining employees.
“Wellness solutions likely will be an increasingly important part of the employee value proposition,” said Ganoni. “It will be crucial for the industry to focus on providing small-business owners with the information they need to make the wellness decisions necessary to recruit and retain employees while making an a meaningful impact on their bottom lines.”
Stress as Top Concern for Employee Well-being
While often focused on physical health, well-being programs can impact mental health too.
- High employee stress is the number one concern for small business decision-makers; especially those at smaller companies, with stress levels more than triple employee well-being concerns.
- Understanding this issue and incorporating stress-management into wellness offerings will be an important consideration for small business owners moving forward.
- In fact, 67 percent say offering programs that help keep employees healthy would be the best health-related option received by employees, versus only 17 percent who say allocating more sick days.
“This study reveals a unique set of concerns and challenges small-business owners face to make employee wellness a reality particularly in today’s tough business environment. For instance, high employee stress and employee psychological well-being are the top two concerns for small-business decision-makers,” said Todd McCracken, NSBA president and CEO.
“This new information shows that small businesses seek better information to make health and wellness a reality for small businesses. Workplace wellness programs can play a role in making quality affordable health care accessible for small-business owners and their employees,” he adds.
The study was conducted by third-party research vendor, Edelman Berland, between late June and July, 2012. The margin of error on the overall sample is +/-3.1%.