One business owner asked me recently, what he can do to lower his rising health care costs and I jokingly replied, “Make your employees run laps around your building.” The owner responded by saying, “How many?” That is just one example of the desperate measures small business owners are willing to take to get those health care costs in check.
Not a week goes by where there isn’t some article related to the rising health care costs. I don’t know the stats off hand, but I’m sure you have read how much of a percentage they have risen year after year. This week I read about how bosses are leading fitness classes at work to get their employees motivated to get in shape. With all the wild solutions suggested for this ongoing problem, one of the few acceptable answers seems to be exercise and wellness. Here are some simple ideas that you, a small business owner, can start to implement to help get those premiums in check. I wasn’t too far off with my running laps idea. A lot of businesses will chart out a walk path around or near the office for employees to utilize. They can use the path after work or during the lunch hour and usually the path is designated with markers to indicate distances on the path i.e. ½ mile, 1 mile, etc. It is a great way to show the employees that you, as the small business, care about their health.
Another easy way to help with the employees’ overall health is to try and control the nutrition that is around the office. I don’t mean telling the employees what to eat, but if you have vending machines, put some healthy choices in those machines. Why put those energy sucking foods in the machines (like chips, cookies, etc.) when you can put choices in there that will help stoke their energy such as fruit. Check with your vending company to see what you can put in there that isn’t processed and low in fat. Also, eliminate the “roach coach,” or those vending trucks that come to your business with all the unhealthy foods your employees can buy. There rarely is anything good in those trucks.
Finally, I would assign an employee the position of “wellness coordinator.” Let that person be in charge of researching the simple things an employer can do to make for a healthier environment. They can help plan activities to coincide with months dedicated to health, like National Cancer Awareness Week or something like that. They can also help organize a Health Fair for the company. This is a great way to have other health and fitness vendors inform your employees of the different options out there to make them healthier.
The bottom line is that a small business CAN lower the health care premiums through exercise and nutrition, but it will take time and a consistent effort. Getting guidance from a wellness consultant could also be a great way to save money down the road. Ultimately, though if you choose not to go down the exercise path, you should play the lottery. You’re going to need the extra money to help your business as your premiums keep rising and rising.