Vail Daily column: Workplace wellness resources for small business | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Workplace wellness resources for small business

Small businesses are always looking for ways to improve their bottom line — through increased revenues or by managing expenses. Something for small businesses to consider is the creation of workplace wellness programs, as these types of employee benefits can impact employee satisfaction.

I can’t say with any certainty that happier employees are going to affect your bottom line, but logically it should have a positive impact. Consider: Satisfied employees make better workers, which lowers employee turnover (a major expense for many businesses), which does affect your bottom line.

Connected to workplace wellness is, of course, rising health care costs and insurance premiums. And as health care costs increase, many small business owners are increasingly concerned about the impact these costs might have on company profits. Employee illness, chronic poor health, low job satisfaction and high turnover can all lead to lower productivity and contribute to lost earnings.

BENEFITS OF HEALTHY EMPLOYEES

Employee illness, chronic poor health, low job satisfaction and high turnover can all lead to lower productivity and contribute to lost earnings.

Workplace health programs can increase productivity, as shown by the Center for Disease Control, which shows many benefits of workplace wellness programs on both employees and businesses.

CDC states, in general, that healthier employees are more productive:

• Healthier employees are less likely to call in sick or use vacation time due to illness.

• Companies that support workplace health have a greater percentage of employees at work every day.

• Because employee health frequently carries over into better health behavior that impact both the employee and their family (such as nutritious meals cooked at home or increased physical activity with the family), employees may miss less work caring for ill family members as well.

• Similarly, workplace health programs can reduce “presenteeism” — the measurable extent to which health symptoms, conditions and diseases adversely affect the work productivity of individuals who choose to remain at work.

Many large businesses have recognized the importance of healthy employees for years, and it explains why they invest in comprehensive worksite wellness programs for their employees. But the reality is, our economy is driven by small business, and historically these organizations haven’t had the resources or the support to implement worksite wellness programs on their own.

That is, until now – thanks to the Health Links program, a state wide nonprofit initiative from the Colorado School of Public Health. The mission of Health Links is to simplify how worksite health and safety get done. By doing so, they help build healthy, vibrant businesses and a stronger local economy.

Health Links works to do this through three initiatives:

1. Recognize the champions of wellness that meet the evidence-based eight benchmarks of Health Links Healthy Business Certification.

2. Advise those businesses on a local level that want to start or improve their worksite wellness and safety program through our Health Links Kick-Start Program. Funding is available from Health Links for Eagle County businesses and organizations to implement or enhance these programs.

3. Connect these businesses together to share stories and provide support through the Health Links Healthy Business Network, and connect them to local resources to carry out their worksite wellness and safety initiatives through the Health Links Preferred Vendor Program.

Health Links recognizes businesses that champion worker well-being and safety with the Health Links Healthy Business Certification, a program that recognizes small businesses for meeting or exceeding worker health and safety standards. For small businesses that are just getting started, Health Links provides support through their Kick-Start Program, which awards seed funding and provides free expert advising to qualified business for successfully building worksite wellness and safety programs.

Connection and access to resources are important for small businesses, and Health Links works to connect businesses to each other and to vital resources that can help them succeed. The Health Links Healthy Business Network is a group of certified businesses that share best practices and ideas through Facebook and other forums. Through the Preferred Vendor Program, business owners and wellness coordinators can connect with local or national organizations and companies that provide the best health and safety services for their needs.

Clearly, healthy and safe employees are the key to success for any business — and for the overall economy — and this might be especially true in our resort economy where success is measured as much by the number of days skiing/riding as by traditional business success metrics. Workplace wellness programs such as Health Links are an effective and efficient way to help create this environment within small businesses and you can find further information online at http://www.healthlinkscolorado.org

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.