Smallbiz health tips: 9 ways to encourage workplace 'prehab'

If you’ve been following us for some time, you’d know that we’re big promoters of small business health. We strongly believe that YOU are the biggest asset of your business and to be successful, you need to take care of your mind as well as your body.

That’s why, we’ve been working on a small business health tips series, where we talk to some of our members from the wellness industry for their top tips for small business owners.

This time, we caught up with Sarah from Koa Recovery, who shared her thoughts about the importance of resetting the mind and encouraging workplace health activities to pump up productivity. Here’s what she had to say:

Small business owners are passionate and creative people who need to think on their feet and be prepared to face multiple challenges through the day.

But to keep the creativity and productivity level of the business high, it’s important to not just take care of yourself but also encourage a positive mindset amongst your employees. So instead of fixing fitness and motivation levels AFTER they drop, you should do something on an ongoing basis. In other words, plan for workplace ‘prehab’ instead of rehab.

It’s also important to remember that health and wellbeing programs save employers money. There’s a wealth of emerging evidence indicating that successful health and wellbeing programs provide an excellent return on investment. For instance, one meta-evaluation looking at economic return of worksite health promotion programs found on average programs:

  • decrease sick leave absenteeism by 25.3%
  • decrease workers compensation costs by 40.7%
  • decrease disability management costs by 24.2%;
  • save $5.81 for every $1 invested in employee health and wellbeing

Here are some workplace health tips to get you started:

1. Create an environment of health and wellness.

Plan for team building activities around fitness events such as marathons and boot camps. When you work towards events as a team, you’ll find people are more motivated to come to work and be their productive best.

2. Take out time for yourself. And tell others to do the same.

Never underestimate the power of resetting the mind and doing something you like. Take out time for something you enjoy every day - whether it’s listening to your favourite song, walking the dog, spending time with the kids, reading a book - anything that YOU like. And encourage people around you to do the same.  

3. Do fun things together.

Bonding with the people you work helps promote a good workplace culture. Small things like going to get your morning coffee together, can go a long way.

4. Start a meditation event.

An average day at a small business workplace can be quite hectic. Help your colleagues refocus their minds by promoting activities such as meditation. Set aside 15 minutes every Tuesday for everyone to come together and meditate.

5. Tell people to take a break.

Prevent burnout by telling people to take regular breaks. Send around emails encouraging people to switch off for a few minutes, connect with each other and then get back to work.

6. Set up workplace challenges.

Tell people to set up individual goals and reward them for achieving those targets. It could be things like:

  • Starting a regular workout
  • Taking up a sport
  • Bringing healthy lunches every day

7. Share the load.

Some people tend to take on the bulk of the workload. Recognise workers who’re doing too much and instead of making them work harder, acknowledge their efforts and share their work. It’s nice to tell your employees that you appreciate their work and value their personal well being.

8. Try adjustable desks.

Introduce standing desks with adjustable heights at the workplace so people can work on better posture. It’s important to not be in the same position all day - repetition is where most injuries happen.

9. Make people move around.

Sustained posture can lead to workplace injuries such as sore wrists, back and elbows. Force people to get up for things like going to the printer or making tea. Put up a list of stretches or create calendar pop-ups reminding people it’s time for a stretch.

Most importantly, as a small business owner, you’ve got to recognise the value in investing both time and money in good health. As they say, it’s better to spend on fitness rather than illness.

If you have any other health tips that you’d like to share with our members, write to us at

About the author:

Sarah is an Occupational Therapist, Personal Trainer and business co-owner of Koa Recovery. She's passionate about preventing burnout, injury and slowing down momentarily in the rat race we call life. She understands this all too well as a small business owner and busy mum and has seen first hand the positive relationship between workplace productivity and prioritisation of health and wellness.

Koa Recovery is a recovery and wellness centre which offers access to the latest evidenced based technology from around the globe to optimise health, wellbeing, injury prevention & productivity. Sarah and her husband support other business owners to maintain their workplace with a variety of programs including workplace wellness consultation and group activities.