Wellbeing is a key issue for any business, but it’s an especially important focus for small businesses. Small businesses make up a huge part of the UK’s economy. In 2017, there were over 5.6 million small businesses in the UK, with between 0-49 employees. This group accounts for over one third of UK turnover. In fact, 96% of businesses have fewer than ten employees.
The impact of absence
For a small business, people are the greatest source of business difference and advantage. This means that illness can have a huge impact. Picture this scenario. If there are ten employees in your company, and one person is off sick, you’re down to 90% operating capacity straightaway. Include another person who needs a morning off to attend a GP appointment, and you’re down to 80% capacity.
If absence means that present staff have to pick up extra work, this can increase workload pressure. Moreover, employees who work in a small business often have multi-disciplinary roles. This means it’s less likely that you will have people with the know-how to pick up the extra work. This increased pressure could lead to stress and other health issues, and then potentially, more time off. You can see how the impact grows quickly, affecting your business’ performance and productivity.
Putting a price on absence
Absence can be a significant cost for any business. For a small business, the impact on the bottom line could be even greater – taking into account lost days and reduced productivity. The latest CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work report reveals that an employee takes, on average, 6.6 days off sick every year. Based on average weekly earnings, this can cost £726 per employee, per year.
Three-point action plan
To help support employee health and wellbeing, and improve absence, there are some simple steps that small business leaders can take. Here is a three-point action plan to get started:
- Encourage employees to be open and talk about their mental health. Take the lead by increasing awareness and decreasing stigma around mental health in your business; make it OK to talk. Employers are often the first port of call for someone struggling with their mental health, so effective signposting is crucial in helping employees understand where they can go for further support.
- Consider the design of jobs in your organisation and allow flexibility. Working from home or remotely, if possible, or allowing employees to shape their working day around personal commitments, can help remove stresses and redress work-life balance – in turn, improving overall wellbeing.
- Our physical environment has a huge impact on wellbeing. Air quality and light exposure are both important factors for our physical health, and improving your workplace environment can be one of the easiest measures to take. Something as simple as bringing some plants into the office can improve air quality. You can also encourage employees to get outside on their breaks, or even introduce walking meetings – being outdoors can sometimes inspire the best ideas.
The Federation of Small Businesses published a helpful guide on wellbeing in small businesses – check it out for further info and tips for improving wellbeing.
Find out how Simplyhealth can support small businesses with health and wellbeing here.