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Beyond the banana: workplace wellbeing for SMEs

Beyond the banana: workplace wellbeing for SMEs

Is it worth spending money and resources on employee health and happiness? According to research by Nuffield Health, FTSE 100 companies that report on employee health and wellbeing outperform those that do not by 10% on the bottom line. This suggests that employee wellbeing translates directly into business wellbeing. But does this correlation imply causation? Let’s look at a few other stats from the same report to help us decide.

  • Sickness absence costs the UK economy £100 billion a year.
  • If current trends continue, around 90% of men and 80% of women will be overweight or obese by 2050.
  • Presenteeism – attendance at work despite genuine sickness because of job security fears – costs the UK economy £15 billion a year, twice that of absenteeism. Often absenteeism is caused by presenteeism, when someone comes into work ill and coughs all over everybody else.
  • 87% of finance and HR directors in UK companies with over 1000 employees indicate that health and wellbeing is being discussed at board level and 41% view it as a strategic priority.

It’s clear from this that big business takes workplace wellbeing seriously, but how do smaller businesses start to approach it as their number of employees grows? Small and medium business leaders might not have access to the HR resources big companies have, so how can they bootstrap the process of boosting employee morale and wellness before it becomes something they regret not having focussed on?

First they need to know the basics. Business leaders are often type A personalities who are not off sick much themselves, and who might not have the firmest grasp of the kinds of issues a workforce can experience which affect their performance. An introductory program can outline these issues and lay the groundwork for developing a robust employee wellbeing strategy.

What kind of things do these courses cover? Generally they will include something like the following:

  • An introduction to health and wellbeing, covering the duty of care an employer has towards their staff.
  • Types of ill health, such as stress, mental health problems, physical health problems and musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Social wellbeing, including encouraging healthy employee relationships, equality and diversity, emotional intelligence, work-life balance, tackling bullying and harassment, maternity, paternity and bereavement.
  • Health and safety – keeping your employees safe from physical harm at work.
  • Physical wellbeing – managing fatigue and burnout, disabilities, personal health and hygiene, etc.
  • Healthy lifestyle – nutrition, exercise, alcohol & drugs, smoking, etc.

High Speed Training’s Health and Wellbeing Training Course is a reasonably-priced introduction covering all of the above, with an online assessment to demonstrate knowledge retention. They also offer specific courses on Health & Safety (3 levels), Nutrition & Healthy Eating, Diabetes Awareness, and many more. It’s a good place to start for the management of SMEs looking to implement a well-informed and effective workplace wellbeing program. For the price of a couple of boxes of bananas, SME managers can get clued up on what really makes a difference to their workforce.