Some of the masters and mavens of big workplace wellness programs are touting their wears to the small business community.
Don't drink the "Kool-Aid" just yet! They do indeed have some interesting information to share. But like Billy Joel said in his song, only the good die young − "Virginia, they didn't give you quite enough information..."
Problem #1 -- Too Expensive: Even at $100 per employee per year (PEPY), that's far too expensive. Some workplace wellness programs go as high as $650 PEPY.
I can show you how to implement a great, common sense wellness program your employees will love with just the help of a couple volunteers. Using local and online resources and events organized by local or national organizations, you can have a robust wellness program and not spend a dime.
Problem #2 -- Academic: Complexity + High Cost + Clinical = Big Wellness Programs. These programs evolved out of the minds of academics for application in big populations with big budgets. It's a "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" assortment of credentialed brainiacs that run them. And to their credit, they've gotten documented results in lowering healthcare costs (for the short term) within the silos of the big, self-funded workplaces.
But as my Grandpa used to say, "that would be like hunting ducks with a cannon," for you. Wellness experts spend an enormous amount of time trying to demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) on these monster programs. But your investment will be almost nothing. There's very little downside for a small business that does wellness using existing resources.
Problem #3 -- Administratively Intense: Think of a big wellness program as a jumbo jet. The only difference being that if you want to use it − you must learn how to fly it. The word "comprehensive" is rightly used to define wellness programs in Fortune 1000 settings. There must be thousands of seminars, webinars, consultants, certifications, and laws to keep up with if you want to run a program like the big guys. Keep your wellness efforts simple by focusing on awareness and communication.
An Example of the Simple
Here's a quick idea of how you could build a workplace wellness campaign tied to a local event that's been produced by a national organization.
The Billion Calorie Count UP from the American Heart Association (AHA) is a nationa- based walking program. As you learn more about the program, you'll see how you could easily piggy-back it, and show your employees and dependents how and why to participate. There are tools and communication online to help, and a map showing where the local events will be around the country.
In fact, you can sign your organization up to be an AHA's Fit Friendly Worksite and have all the tools and resources you need to get your employees engaged, and participate on a local level with other workplaces interested in wellness.
Have your wellness volunteer(s) tap into the AHA's Billion Calorie Count UP by...
• becoming familiar with the program by going to AHA's Website and acquiring all the free tools and communications they'll need.
• locating other local workplaces that might like to join yours in participating in the event.
• having employee volunteers produce homemade posters and flyers for the event.
• getting a buddy program going to prepare for the event by scheduling walking times together.
• asking an employee to serve as a journalist, and video the event and interview participants from your company. Ask employees to contribute photos, articles, and videos of the preparation, participation, and positive experiences.
• tapping into the AHA's national blogs and let everyone know your story.
• contacting the local media and tell them what you're doing.
• considering setting up a Facebook page for your wellness program and post the stories there.
The Billion Calorie Count UP is just one of thousands of ideas that would cost you tens of thousands of dollars to produce yourself, and provides your workplace a network to plug into that you could not have produced at all.
So be weary of any brainiacs bearing the gift of a pricey, "comprehensive wellness," Trojan Horse for your small business. It won't be Brad Pitt inside yours.