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Small Businesses Slow to Embrace Workplace Wellness Best Practices, Study Finds

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The role of workplace design on employee wellness has become an increasingly hot topic in corporate America, buoyed by studies that suggest sitting for extended periods of time, poor ergonomics in the workplace, and fatigue on the job can lead to potential health issues. However, a new poll by EMPLOYERS(R) (NYSE:EIG) , America’s small business insurance specialist(R), finds that small businesses, which employ more than half of the American workforce, have been much slower to embrace the trend.

“The nature of work in this country has changed dramatically over the past two decades,” said David Quezada, Vice President of Loss Control at EMPLOYERS. “Jobs have become more sedentary and there are fewer opportunities for workers to get up and move around. Americans are also getting heavier, with some studies suggesting that 42 percent of the adult population could be obese by the year 2030. A growing amount of research is showing that increased time spent sitting and obesity are taking years off our lives.”

“Small businesses should become more proactive about creating workplace environments and enforcing policies that promote employee health and wellbeing,” Quezada suggested.

The EMPLOYERS poll looked at ergonomics in small business workplaces and found:

  • More than three-quarters (77 percent) of small businesses do not provide non-traditional seating options such as stand-up desks, treadmill desks or balance balls to employees, despite research that shows sitting for extended periods of time can lead to increased risks of heart disease, cancer and other ailments.
  • More than one-quarter (29 percent) of small business owners surveyed said that their employees typically remain seated for more than an hour at a time.
  • Two out of five (42 percent) small businesses do not provide monitor stands to improve the posture and comfort of employees who primarily work on computers.

Another trend that emerged in the EMPLOYERS survey is that small business employees do not take sufficient time away from work. Research has shown that vacations and other forms of restorative time off can reduce the risk of death and have other positive health effects. The EMPLOYERS survey found:

  • Barely more than half of small business employees (55 percent) who primarily work on computers are encouraged to take routine breaks to rest their eyes. Not doing so can lead to eye strain or other injuries.
  • Nearly one quarter (23 percent) of hourly and salary employees often wait up to three or four hours before taking a break.
  • Two out of five (42 percent) small business employees do not use all of their allotted time off from work each year.
  • Nearly two-thirds of small business owners (65 percent) have worked at some point during their planned vacation time.

“Creating a culture of workplace safety starts at the top,” Quezada said. “Business owners and other senior leaders need to set an example by offering healthier workplace environments and enforcing time off policies for themselves and their employees. Our poll found that often doesn’t happen.”


EMPLOYERS(R) facilitated a telephone survey of small business decision makers through the SSRS Small Business Omnibus Survey. Interviews were completed with a nationally representative sample of 506 small businesses that have fewer than 100 employees. Data were weighted by number of employees, region and industry to reflect the proportion of small businesses in the United States. The margin of error is +/-4.4%. Fieldwork was conducted from October 13-28, 2014.

About Employers Holdings, Inc.

Employers Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:EIG) is a holding company with subsidiaries that are specialty providers of workers’ compensation insurance and services focused on select small businesses engaged in low-to-medium hazard industries. The company, through its subsidiaries, operates throughout the United States. Insurance is offered by Employers Insurance Company of Nevada, Employers Compensation Insurance Company, Employers Preferred Insurance Company, and Employers Assurance Company, all rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company. Additional information can be found at:

Copyright (c) 2015 EMPLOYERS. All rights reserved.

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