Owning, running and even working for a small business can be stressful. Often, you’re shouldering responsibilities that would be shared among several people in a larger company – and taking a day off sick is far more significant when you’re in a team of 5, rather than one of 5,000 employees.
That’s why the Federation of Small Businesses has launched a new campaign: Wellbeing in Small Business.
A Rise in Health Problems
The FSB’s campaign has been devised in response to the increasing number of physical and mental health problems in the UK workforce. Research by the FSB’s medical and health advice service revealed that the number of small businesses seeking mental health advice has doubled in the last five years.
Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “Owning and running a business can be hugely rewarding. However, it brings with it demands, responsibilities and risks that can bring personal pressures that can impact a person’s health and wellbeing.
“Wellbeing can help increase our productivity, improve our performance and reduce absenteeism. There is a clear business case, however, the benefits are felt just as much in our health as individuals, but also by our communities and the wider economy.”
Small businesses often don’t receive or give the same standard of health support as larger businesses, and the FSB hope their campaign will remedy this. Together with Public Health, the mental health charity, Mind, and other organisations, the FSB has developed ‘Wellbeing in Small Business: How You Can Help’, which provides small businesses owners and the self-employed with a variety of ways to improve mental health and wellbeing.
Improving Wellbeing in Small Businesses
The advice includes tackling mental health issues such as stress, emotional health issues such as loneliness and physical issues such as fitness and the work environment. Some of the suggestions include flexible working arrangements, ‘in-work’ fitness groups and ways to improve the working environment.
“Small business owners can play a vital role in improving the lives of their employees through a variety of actions – from innovative and new ideas to simple steps such as encouraging more activity and regular breaks,” says Mike Cherry. “There’s never going to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and not every idea will be suitable for every business. We are, however, seeing some real innovation from small business owners for themselves and their teams. It is important that small business owners find the ideas that work for their business, themselves and their staff.”
Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England, called the guide “invaluable,” highlighting its low or no cost suggestions for small employers.
“Britain’s 5.5 million small businesses are the backbone of the nation’s economy so it is imperative that they have the tools they need to keep their workforce healthy,” he said. “Staff who are healthy in work are more productive and businesses that promote a progressive approach to wellbeing can see a significant impact on business performance.”
Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said that in a recent Mind survey, 56% of respondents said they found work very or fairly stressful.
“We all have mental health just as we all have physical health, and it can fluctuate from good to poor for any number of reasons,” she said. “Whether you are self-employed or run a business, mental health should be a top priority for you. It is really important to promote wellbeing and take steps to tackle the work-related causes of poor mental health among your staff, as well as looking after your own wellbeing. Mentally healthy workplaces are associated with engaged, productive and loyal staff so it’s in everyone’s best interests to prioritise mental health at work.”
“We’re pleased to be supporting FSB in taking this forward and would encourage small employers and the self-employed to make good use of this guide.”