Filed Under:Markets, Employee Benefits

Survey: 3 in 4 small business owners tout health and wellness programs

Photo credit: Stuart Miles
Photo credit: Stuart Miles

While most small businesses don’t offer health and wellness programs to their employees, three of four that offer such programs find the initiatives positively impact their bottom line.

That’s one of the key conclusions of a study of more than 1,000 small-business owners by Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), Louisville, Ky., and the National Small Business Administration (NSBA), Washington, D.C. Conducted by the research firm StrategyOne, New York, the study aims to uncover health and wellness needs and barriers facing small businesses in today’s post-recession business recovery.

The survey defines health and wellness programs as initiatives designed encouraging employees to make healthier choices such as getting preventative care, eating right and exercising.

More than 9 in 10 (93 percent) of the study’s 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 of the people surveyed maintain that insufficient information is available that pertains to small businesses introducing health and wellness programs. Among companies less than 10 years old, more than six in 10 (63 percent) having already adopted health and wellness programs.

A key factor in small business owners’ decision about whether or not to introduce a health and wellness program rests with employee interest, the study indicates, adding that: 

● Startups find their employees, many of them younger, prefer and pursue such offerings.

● 85 percent of startups say wellness programs are worth the investment and 63 percent are already adopting such programs.

● Most startups say these programs aid in recruiting and retaining employees.

While often focused on physical health, well-being programs can impact mental health too, the study notes, adding that:

● High employee stress is the number one concern for small business decision-makers, especially those at smaller companies, with stress levels more than triple other 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.

● 67 percent of respondents 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.

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