Employee-wellness-200x312We see a lot of research findings about the benefits of having a workplace wellness strategy, as well as tips for how to effectively implement one. However, until recently, much of the information out there focused on large companies with over 1,000 employees. As a result, not a lot of the data and advice translated well to the small business culture or budget. That’s a big problem, considering the fact that the majority of America’s workforce is employed by small and mid-sized companies.

Even though there aren’t a whole lot of resources available to them, many small business owners still feel that wellness programs are a valuable tool for improving their employees’ health and happiness. What they don’t know is how much a successful program will cost them, what kind of return on investment they can expect, and how to measure how the program is performing.

A recent study has attempted to bridge the knowledge gap between the practices of large corporations and those of small companies, when it comes to workplace wellness. Researchers studied some small and mid-sized businesses with thriving workplace wellness cultures. Here are a few of the biggest takeaways from the study’s findings.


A successful wellness program is an innovative one. However, that doesn’t have to mean the types of technological innovations that normally come to mind, like apps and wearables. Instead, small businesses that excel at wellness were more likely to take a non-traditional approach to wellness.

Many of the initiatives and ideas came from internal sources, like employee suggestions. Technology was often utilized, but only when it made sense. The program was frequently evaluated, and any initiatives that weren’t working were shut down immediately.

Company Culture

A positive company culture has always been stressed as being crucial to employee wellness. Also, while the importance of leadership’s involvement in wellness programs has historically been emphasized, this study’s findings were that it seemed to matter less in small businesses.

In these successful programs it was employees who were influencing and, in many cases, leading the entire programs with complete autonomy. What seemed to matter more was not WHO was driving the initiatives, but rather the level of authenticity and enthusiasm they displayed.


Another finding was that success was dependent on an employee-focused approach that took into account employees’ overall well-being. When employees were the focus, and not the impact on the company’s bottom line, participation in the programs increased.

The wellness programs that were studied took into consideration ways to help employees address the financial burden associated with their health care costs and tailored their initiatives to the needs of each individual employee.


The companies that participated in the research study all worked to provide healthier options for their employees and to create healthier work environments. Physical space was set aside in the workplace that was designated for non-work well-being considerations. Community involvement together as a company was also emphasized.


The concept of altruism referred to the fact that these companies obviously displayed a deep-seated desire to help others. This was most often evidenced by the presence of a selfless leader who ran the wellness programs, welcomed feedback, and adjusted the program budget according to employees’ needs, not a mandate set by management.

We hope these findings can help guide you on how to most effectively tailor your wellness program to the needs of your organization. If you’d like to learn more about implementing a successful workplace wellness program, give us a call!