Wellness for cheapies, er, uh, the thrifty

Forget the onsite gyms, the personal trainers and the Pilates instructors. Small companies, with small budgets, can use five simple approaches to promote wellness today.

  1. Put your vending machines on a diet. Get rid of the cookies and candy bars, and replace them with healthier snacks such as granola bars and reduced-fat or low-calorie treats.
  2. Hand out pedometers. For under $500, the average company can supply every employee with a pedometer. And if you’re really cheap, check with your insurance company about getting hooked with free pedometers (some hand them out as promotional gimmicks). Start a walking club, maybe with small rewards for those who hit mileage goals, but make it totally low key.
  3. Educate your employees. How many calories and grams of fat are in a Burger King Whopper with cheese? Don’t know? Neither do most of your employees. Charts that show information like that will at least inform employees about healthy choices. Or send them to CalorieKing.com for the nutritional facts about some of their favorite foods. (By the way, the answers for the Whopper are: 770 calories and 48 grams of fat.)
  4. Offer health-risk assessments. For $5 to $15 per employee, your health insurance company or a third-party vendor such as Wellstream may be able to provide personal online assessments — usually 80 to 120 questions — based on a user’s family health history, eating habits and physical activity.
  5. Review your claims. Take a look at your health-insurance claims. If you spot a cluster of the same types of claims, such as treatment for diabetes, considering bringing in speakers to talk about managing it or screeners from a local hospital or clinic.