Small businesses in this country make up a large part of the workforce, a little over half, and a new poll from Employers Insurance shows that these employees may not be getting the same workplace wellness budge from their employers as their counterparts in larger companies.
Employers Insurance asked 506 small businesses (those with under 100 workers) about their workplace wellness, amount of break time their employees take and amount of vacation days they take. What they found was disheartening, especially given the increasing obesity levels and the recent studies that point to the detriments of sitting around all day.
A little over three-fourths of small businesses do not offer desk adjustments like ball chairs or standing desks which can get employees to move a little bit more during the day. These kinds of non-traditional work environments may help employees stay alert and may even improve attention. Employees also do not take enough breaks, according the poll, and remain seated for long periods of time without getting up and moving around.
The poll also found that two-fifths of employees do not use all their vacation days in a year, even though this time away can reduce burn-out and have other recuperative effects on employees.
Maybe Employers Insurance had an agenda in mind when they conducted this poll, but who can blame them? Too much sitting can contribute to obesity, which can affect recovery time if employees are injured. It can also cause other diseases like diabetes which can make injuries harder to treat. It also ups the price tag of treatment. If Employers, who is a big insurer of small businesses, has to foot the bill they would definitely be interested in knowing just how much their clients are including preventative measures at work, and they might want to make suggestions on how they could improve workplace wellness.
Today’s work environment, where employees primarily spend their day behind a computer screen, makes it difficult for employees to be active during the day. Technology is great in that it makes things easier for us, but that’s also a downfall because it makes it easy for us to stay in our chairs all day. Desk adjustments could help that by getting employees to stand or move around, while still being able to do their computer work. Encouraging employees to use all their vacation days can help them recharge their batteries so they come back more focused.
Small businesses, who may be more worried about costs than larger companies with a lot of capital, may use this as an excuse not to invest in office furniture like treadmill desks or balance ball chairs. But if it could reduce obesity or lead to healthier and more alert employees it seems that the investment is worth it. There are more cost-effective options like encouraging lunchtime walks or asking employees to get up every hour and walk around for a few minutes.