Published April 10th, 2017 by

Should SMEs Invest in Wellness Days for Staff? Absolutely!

More and more businesses are seeing the benefits of wellness days for their staff. Wellness days have become the modern phenomena of larger businesses trying to maximise productivity, retain staff and reduce the level of sick leave. The word is out. Wellness at work really works.

It’s a perk SMEs should seriously consider offering sooner rather than later. Yes, there’s a financial cost, but the benefits of a happy workforce (no matter how small) and an improved ability to retain staff is paying off with improved productivity. Unable to compete with the big salaries on offer from corporates, SMEs need to wise-up with staff retention strategies. As well as feeling challenged by the work they are doing, staff want training, support and perks.

We’ve put together 5 reasons why SMEs should think seriously about wellness days. It’s definitely an investment SMEs should consider if they want to stop talent leaking to the big players.

5 reasons why SMEs should introduce wellness days

It’s tempting for SMEs to look at the cool pictures of leading tech businesses office space and think that installing a ping pong table and some video games will boost morale, and for some maybe it will. But SMEs need to think about what will benefit staff in the long term.

1. Health: wellness days are part of a wider strategy to support a healthier workforce. Wellness strategies help employees to create a better work-life balance and will almost certainly pay for itself in reduced sick days and increased productivity.

2. Morale: employees love to feel they are looked after. Wellness days send a strong message that you are doing just that.

3. Productivity: when you create a culture of wellbeing it rubs off. Staff feel healthier and perform better.

4. Staff retention: happier staff are much more likely to stay. When staff feel part of a family team, good old loyalty kicks in. Don’t take loyalty for granted. You’ll need to offer perks.

5. Absenteeism: wellness at work can minimise stress, reduce work related illnesses and have a significant impact on the level of staff sickness.

Wellness perks suitable for SMEs

There’s no point pretending SMEs can compete with big business when it comes to wellness programmes. Large companies are able to offer in-house gyms, onsite physiotherapy, full-time life coaches and all manner of things not feasible for an SME. But, just because an SME can’t do everything, it doesn’t mean it can’t do something. Here’s our top 5 wellness perks SMEs would do well to invest in.

1. A quarterly or bi-annual day out

Close the office for a day and treat your staff to a day out. Even a summer picnic or BBQ with the head honcho cooking the burgers is a nice touch. It’s a great way to socialise with staff outside of the office, and it won’t break your bank balance.

2. Private medical insurance

At the tail end of last year, VitalityHealth launched a workplace wellness programme for SMEs. According to VitalityHealth, on average, 27 working days are lost per employee per year due to ill health.

The VitalityHealth approach is to offer rewards for activity with short-term goals linked to incentives. It offers a structured programme of activity throughout the year, incorporating initiatives such as wellness days, webinars, employee challenges, training of employee wellness champions and access to a Vitality Coach.

The concept is to inspire, motivate and reward employees for their commitment to wellbeing. It’s a viable and affordable alternative for SMEs not able to commit heavily to the ongoing running costs of a bespoke in-house wellness programme.

3. Look after employee’s backs

Employers have a duty to look after the health and safety of their employees in the workplace.
According to government statistics, work related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD) account for 34% of all working days lost due to work related ill health. The government statistics taken from the Labour Force Survey illustrate that while manual handling, lifting and carrying is one of the prime causative factors in the development of back pain, repetitive movement such as keyboard work or being in awkward or tiring positions were also significant factors in WRMSD development.

Ensuring employees have the right equipment and ergonomically sound workstations will stand any SME in good stead when it comes to preventing back pain at work. Don’t balk at the cost of investing in decent chairs. You can even look at specialist solutions, such as a chair for sciatica, to help employees with on-going back problems to feel comfortable at work. Getting an expert in to offer ergonomic assessments is a one-off cost, but is well worth the investment.

4. Free fruit and a monthly healthy lunch in at the office

Providing staff with a daily fruit bowl is a nice healthy touch. Not only will it encourage staff to eat more healthily, it provides a welcome bit of sustenance when your team are putting in extra hours. If taking your team out for lunch once a month is too much of a budget stretch, then order food in. Try and stick to healthy options to go with your new ethos. It’s a small thing, but small things add up.

5. Afternoon head, neck and shoulder massage

It’s easy to book a mobile massage therapist once in a while to come into the office and soothe away the aches and tensions of a stressful week. Set your booked therapist up in the board room and get your office organiser to work out an appointment system. Even 20 minutes per person will be a well-received treat away from the desk.

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