Workplace Wellness for Small Business  Part I

by Brian Hazelgren

Some days it seems as though large companies like Google, Microsoft and Oracle are setting the standards for corporate wellness programs. When the standards are set by businesses with entire departments and budgets set aside for employee wellness, how are smaller businesses supposed to keep up?

I realize it may seem impossible, but smaller businesses can have just as effective wellness programs as the corporate giants—without having to stretch their budgets too far. That’s because wellness is all about the employees it serves – and, it’s about you, your company and your employees.

So this means – it must be completely adaptable to the needs of your workforce. You don’t need a million dollar budget to implement a successful wellness program. All it takes to be successful in promoting and implementing a solid wellness program is to tailor what you’re doing to what your employees need.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the logistics of a solid wellness program. If you’re starting from scratch, I know it can be overwhelming—especially when you’re working with the budget, time and personnel restraints of being a smaller business.

To help ease the uncertainty, I’m going to lay out the absolute essentials for getting a wellness program started where you work.

This Is What You’ll Need

  • A Wellness Team
  • A Big Idea
  • Wellness Activities
  • Participants
  • An Evaluation Plan
  • Helpful Extras

Tackle these things first, and then go after the crazy and innovative perks of the larger companies as time and resources allow.


Someone—or a group of someone’s—should be in charge of your wellness program. For many small businesses, it’s not always feasible to hire a wellness coordinator to run all aspects of wellness – and that is just fine! But you do need some type of figurehead that will help to organize, implement and track the success of the program.


A wellness team is necessary to keep your program in line and to keep things moving forward. You can get ideas from people all throughout your company, but without some type of leadership sifting through and implementing those ideas, it will fall on deaf ears.

A wellness team is also the go-to team when questions arise. A solid wellness team is passionate about health and wellness – and they will help provide a sense of structure—which makes the program more credible.

A credible program is more easily trusted by employees, which means they’ll be more likely to buy in. When employees buy in and have a few colleagues and management supporting them, you and they can achieve the goals established.

So, the key here is to choose individuals who will come up with creative ideas, and innovative plans to achieve the desired results. Finally, a wellness team is necessary to set up and carry out the aspects of your program. That doesn’t mean they have to physically run every event, but it is their job to ensure the logistics are lined up. Their role is all about making sure the program actually happens.


As I previously mentioned, you might not have the budget or space to hire a designated wellness coordinator. In many companies, the duties of a wellness coordinator wouldn’t even fill a full time role. So it’s hard to justify spending resources on that route.

You might not feel comfortable, though, giving the wellness duties to someone who already fills another role – that is also understandable. They were hired for a job, so it can be unfair to add a second job on top of what they are already doing. The key here is to find an individual who is passionate job, and about health/wellness. Then make sure they are supported by people who are of like mind – team members who will take wellness seriously, and take it to an entirely new positive direction for the company.                                                           

The best option for small businesses is to gather up a wellness team of volunteers. These individuals can take on roles and responsibilities that help shape a successful wellness campaign in a few different ways:

    1. Perhaps you have an employee who is interested in health, employee satisfaction, or reducing healthcare costs in the company. They may be more than willing to take on the task because it aligns with their passions and personal interests.
    2. Maybe wellness just makes sense with a particular department. Do you have a human resources or employee management team? Talk with them about dispersing wellness tasks throughout their department.
    3. In a lot of companies, wellness leadership is best done by committee. Ask for volunteers to sit on your wellness committee. With more people, the workload will be lighter. Be sure to have committee members from a variety of departments so you can get different perspectives. Allow them to set their own meeting schedule so it’s an easy committee to be part of.

Developing an effective wellness team depends entirely on your corporate culture.

Do you follow a strict hierarchy? Or is it a more “all hands on deck” approach? Are employees willing to take on special projects? Or do most people stay in their designated lanes?

These are all great questions to ask yourself as you determine which wellness leadership strategy is best for you and your company.


Your wellness program needs a focus. In many cases a focus on “health” is just too broad. That’s because “health” as a goal has been widely over-utilized. Health can mean different things to different people. Appealing to that deeper meaning is what will actually yield results. Look for people on your staff that may have chronic illnesses they are dealing with. Check and find out if your team has been to see a doctor in the past two years. Maybe cancer is a hot topic among your team members. Perhaps diabetes or chronic illness are issues at your company that demand a little extra attention. Or maybe your employees just want to feel a little better and find some extra energy. Whatever the case may be, pick a couple of areas to focus on that will be of benefit to the team.


Finding some common theme for your wellness program to help you to give your program an identity. Not only does it help you focus, and set relevant goals, but it also helps your program to be recognizable and relatable. Your team needs to relate to the goals, and how those goals fit into their own personal objectives.

There are a ton of different themes your wellness program can adopt—and again, it’s completely dependent on your corporate culture, and what your Wellness Team decides. Some popular themes include:

  • Health for longevity—living a longer life and spending that life with loved ones.
  • Health for adventure—being physically able to do more exciting things in life.
  • Health for happiness—feeling good in all aspects of life.
  • Health for productivity—working at a higher productivity level because your body and mind just work better.
  • Health for beauty—taking care of your body so it looks better and younger, longer.
  • Health for balance—being holistically healthy.
  • Health for purpose—finding meaning in life by eliminating unhealthy barriers.
  • Health for perfection—pursuing the way your body should be.
  • Health for staying competitive—competing against other departments or branches.

This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means. A wellness theme grows out of the values your workforce holds. You have some type of culture where you work. Harness that culture and find what your employees are truly looking for in their healthy lifestyles.


The absolute best way to create an effective wellness theme is to talk with your employees. Understand what they value and strive for. What makes them tick? What do they want to see with their own health and wellness? Are they interested in losing weight, better cardio, becoming more limber? You can find all of this out – plus a lot more by doing a survey. It might be an informal survey that involves having a chat with different department heads. It could be a formal survey you ask every employee to take. It might even be more of a fluid, open survey that employees can participate in if they feel drawn to.

The most important part is that you’re getting employee feedback. You’re learning what they want and what health means to them. Be sure to ask questions about:

  • Employees’ current lifestyle choices (but nothing too specific or invasive, of course).
  • Employees’ goals and long-term plans.
  • Employees’ values and beliefs.
  • Employees’ interests and past-times.
  • Employees’ demographics like age and familial status.

These types of questions give you a peak into what your employees lives are made of. It shows you what they want, and how a healthy lifestyle can appeal to their needs.

After you get your employees’ feedback, look for trends and themes to figure out what “health  and wellness” means collectively to your workforce.

Stay tuned for Part II of Workplace Wellness for Small Business, and read the rest of the story. There are some cool tips and ideas for your business that I will share in Part II which is coming up next. However, if you would like to get in touch with me now, please reach out with an email to Also visit a couple of my websites:  or Make it a great day!


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