Workplace Health Promotion in Small Businesses

The workplace has gained increasing attention as an appropriate and cost-effective setting for offering comprehensive employee health promotion programs. Workplace Health Promotion (WHP) interventions aim to increase employee engagement in healthy lifestyle behaviors to improve overall health and prevent chronic conditions. The workplace is an ideal location to provide WHP activities because the average working American spends more than one-third of their time at work and the workplace gives access to individuals in a controlled environment with existing channels of communication and support. Effective WHP programs are comprehensive in nature and often include educational supports, policies, workplace initiatives, and environmental supports for employee health.

Comprehensive WHP programs have been effective in improving worker health, increasing physical activity, improving weight status, and improving dietary behaviors. These programs have also benefited employers through decreased work absences, increased work ability, and lower turnover rates.

While health and wellness programs are common in large businesses, the vast majority of small businesses offer no health promotion program. When WHP programs are offered by smaller businesses, they are often far less-comprehensive than their larger counterparts.

Small business owners have reported a number of perceived barriers to workplace health promotion program implementation, including direct and indirect costs, lack of employee interest, privacy concerns, lack of program expertise, and an uncertain return on investment.

First Steps to Health Wellness for Small Businesses is a resource guide developed to help small businesses establish a workplace health and wellness program or to improve an existing program.

The Workplace Health Wellness Resource List provides links to free, web-based resources to address a variety of health and wellness topics. This tool is intended to be used by employers or organizations of any size.