Owning a small business is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, endurance, commitment, passion and smarts. Most of the entrepreneurs I’ve met possess these qualities, yet many of them forget one important thing:
qualities alone won’t get them far in life and business without a healthy mind and body to carry them out. Exercise and proper nutrition are paramount to success.
But who has the time to work out? What about that time-sucking chore of cooking healthy meals, let alone the time to shop for the ingredients? And, meditate? Right. You may argue that you can’t still your mind for a minute let alone twenty!
While these nagging arguments may seem true, they are a product of a very limiting mindset. Studies show that exercise and proper nutrition enhance our ability to focus, create stronger endurance and lessen (sometimes eliminate) symptoms of depression. A healthy regime will even increase productivity. It’s time to change that mindset!
Entrepreneurial burnout is one of the most serious challenges that you may face as a business owner. When the physical, emotional and mental exhaustion associated with job burnout sets in, you may begin to doubt your competence and the value of your work. It will lead to poor decision-making and moodiness. Ultimately, it can lead to illness. Therefore, avoiding burnout should be one of your top priorities, because without you, it's likely that your small business will not thrive.
Furthermore, your employees must be given the opportunity to thrive as well. Fortune 500 companies are finally getting on-board with health and wellness programs that offer more than health insurance policies, and you can too. Programs that incentivize your team (yes, even a team of two) to get up, move and relax their minds do not have to be costly. Here are a few examples from the big guys, and a few very affordable ideas of my own. You simply have to make up your mind and do it. In the end, you’ll save time and energy, and you’ll be more successful and happy!
Google is one of the companies that lead the way in employee benefits. In the East Coast office, you’ll find ping-pong tables, nap pods and LEGO stations to challenge the brain and improve dexterity. Employees can shower, get their laundry done, get massages and even swim at work.
At Motley Fool, the goal is to help people achieve financial freedom—and they believe anyone can do it. With wellness engagement being around 86%, they obviously realize that health is critical to success, and they make it fun.
For instance, April is called 'Active April,' and managers are challenged to make one meeting per day an active one. There are pushups during meetings and groups walking around the office to discuss business instead of sitting in conference rooms. Employees also get free personal training sessions and wellness consultations. And, if employees pay to enter a race, the company reimburses 50% of the entry fee.
Online retailer, Zappos, is admired for its wellness program, and, like most companies, it offers perks like gym memberships, free fitness classes, nap rooms and marathon reimbursements.
One of the Zappos initiatives is called Wellness Adventures, where a small group of employees from different departments go offsite to do something fun away from their desks. This could be an hour-long golf lesson, laser tag or trampolining. Another unique program is Recess Tuesdays. Employees come outside, shoot some hoops, play tetherball, volleyball and just monkey around.
What Incentives Can You Offer?
Your company is obviously smaller and with fewer resources, but don’t let that stop you. Try one or more of these ideas to keep you and your employees in tip-top shape:
- Initiate a walking program and two or three times a week take your small group for a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood while you discuss your next goals and ideas.
- Use a free health app that tracks the number of steps taken and calories consumed each day. Create a contest and offer a ten-dollar gift card, a “get out of jail free” card allowing the winner to leave one-hour early on a day of their choice, or simply award them with a “Top Achiever” certificate. Recognition is key to success.
- Local chiropractors, fitness experts and nutrition experts will jump at the chance to come to your office and do an educational presentation on their health topic. They may offer financial incentives for your employees to sign on to their programs.
- How about a kitchen challenge? Host a monthly or quarterly cook off challenge where everyone brings in a healthy dish to share, along with the recipe. Or, simply challenge your team to submit recipes to a private Facebook group. They can also post their challenges and wins for all to see.
- Gym memberships are available for as low as ten-dollars a month (Planet Fitness). Step up your employees’ commitment to health by paying for all or a portion of the membership, the catch being they must use it at least once a week.
- Lastly, you might consider downloading a good meditation or yoga app and leading a weekly twenty or thirty-minute mindfulness retreat. You don’t have to be an expert, just follow the app!
No step is too small to initiate big change! What will your next step toward wellness be?