Small Businesses Can Benefit From Workplace Wellness Programs

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exerciseballWorkplace wellness programs present a good opportunity for small businesses, according to studies published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine from the Colorado School of Public Health.

Two workplace wellness studies were conducted on the Pinnacol Assurance health risk management (HRM) program. For the studies, Pinnacol Assurance, a Colorado workers’ compensation insurer, offered its small business policyholders (employers with less than 500 employees) the opportunity to participate in the HRM program free of charge including implementation support. The purpose of the HRM studies were to determine if workplace wellness programs could improve the health and productivity of employees. Pinnacol Assurance partnered with Well Nation® (formerly known as Trotter Wellness®) to administer the wellness program.

Between 2010 and 2014, more than 260 employers enrolled in the HRM program, and 6,507 employees participated. According to the study, one-third of participants were overweight, one-quarter were obese, one-fifth reported depression, and another fifth had chronic fatigue.

For the first study published in 2014, the HRM program reported a return of $2 for every dollar spent in just the first year despite being conducted in Colorado (one of the healthiest states in the nation) and largely comprised of small businesses under 50 employees. The HRM program also demonstrated reductions in ten health risk factors including obesity, poor eating habits, poor physical activity, tobacco use, high alcohol consumption, high stress, depression, high blood pressure, high total cholesterol, and high blood glucose.

Previous research indicates that only one-third of small businesses offer some sort of wellness program. Traditionally, small employers have been reluctant to implement wellness programs due to the barriers they often face such as cost, time, and the necessary resources and manpower to manage a program.

At the completion of the four-year program, the second study published in 2015, showed that the barriers small businesses face when implementing a workplace wellness program can be overcome. Of the 260 employers who enrolled in the HRM program, 71 percent continued more than one year. And of those employers, 97 percent reported that worker wellness improves safety.

“Our success with medium to large companies has been well documented but it is nice to see research indicate that small businesses are open to implementing successful wellness programs if the program is easy to set up, simple to use, and resources are readily available,” said Margo Trotter, RN, BScN, MHSc, President, Well Nation®. “Over time, wellness programs can offer tangible rewards for small employers such as increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, lower health care insurance costs, and increased employee morale and satisfaction.”

About Well Nation®

Founded in 2003, Well Nation® is a privately-held Wisconsin-based company that serves companies of all sizes throughout North America by assisting them in controlling their health risk related costs. To learn more, visit