Small Business

Should My Small Business Offer a Workplace Wellness Program?

Updated on December 02, 2019


As a business owner, you may have heard of workplace wellness programs. Workplace wellness has increasingly become a popular topic among employers, and wellness programs can help get employees excited about making healthier lifestyle choices. How do these wellness programs work, and what are their benefits for a small business?

Continue reading to learn about workplace wellness programs and why your business might consider them.

What is a workplace wellness program?

A workplace wellness program is an initiative designed to encourage the health and fitness of employees, and is generally offered by either an employer or a health insurance plan. Workplace wellness programs usually provide participation incentives for employees, such as premium discounts, gym memberships, and cash rewards.

Generally, there are two types of workplace wellness programs: participatory and health-contingent.

  • Participatory wellness programs either do not provide rewards or do not have any conditions for giving rewards based on fulfilling a certain health standard or outcome. These could include employee reimbursements for the cost of gym programs or diagnostic testing programs.
  • Health-contingent wellness programs require employees to fulfill a certain health standard or outcome to receive a reward. Unlike participatory programs, health-contingent programs are subject to five key requirements set out in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA created new financial incentives for employers to offer wellness programs in order to promote healthier workplaces. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the maximum reward to employers who use a health-contingent workplace wellness program plan is usually limited to 30 percent of the cost of employee-only health coverage (or 50 percent for wellness programs designed to reduce or prevent tobacco usage).

What are examples of workplace wellness programs?

Many options are available for small businesses interested in workplace wellness programs. Examples of workplace wellness programs include:

  • Preventative health screenings
  • Programs to quit smoking
  • Diet and weight loss programs
  • Diabetes management programs
  • Monthly, no-cost health seminars

These activities can motivate employees to make better long-term health decisions related to fitness and nutrition through short-term incentives, rewards, and recognition. Employers may also view these programs as investments in potentially improving workplace productivity and collaboration.

What are the benefits of wellness programs for small business owners?

There are several great reasons for business owners to offer workplace wellness programs. In addition to the financial incentives mentioned above, wellness programs can help companies promote a healthier working environment for their employees.

  • Differentiate your business – Offering a wellness program may allow your company to stand out as an employer that highly values its employees, thereby setting your business apart from competitors. Such programs could also boost morale and convey the culture of your business.
  • Recruit quality employees – Workplace wellness programs may attract talented, quality workers. Potential hires often consider wellness programs as part of a total benefits package, along with vacation time and a group health insurance plan, when they evaluate their job offers.
  • Employee retention – Implementing a workplace wellness program could help your business retain your current workers through enhanced engagement and job satisfaction. Depending on their impact, wellness programs may also lead to overall happier and healthier employees.
  • Stress reduction – Workplace wellness initiatives related to personal fitness, for example, may contribute to reducing employee stress. Reduced workplace stress could improve company culture and promote a more focused, positive, and productive mindset among your employees.

Before your company begins a wellness program, you should discuss the topic with your employees to find out their degree of interest in participating in the program’s activities. Regardless of whether your business decides to start a workplace wellness program, prioritizing the health and well-being of your employees is always an important consideration for the success of any small business.

Benefits beyond workplace wellness programs

While not all small business health insurance plans offer discounts for workplace wellness programs, such initiatives are popular enough in the modern workplace that they may be worthy of your time and consideration, and are another benefit that employers should absolutely consider offering to their employees.

eHealth can help you find the right health insurance plan for your small business, including group plans with workplace wellness programs. Visit eHealth today or speak with one of our licensed health insurance agents to learn how you can quickly find and compare quotes for group health coverage from the best selection of small business health insurance plans available online.

This article is for general information and may not be updated after publication. Consult your own tax, accounting, or legal advisor instead of relying on this article as tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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