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Developing Health and Wellbeing in SMEs

By Matthew Carlton

The term marginal gains has become part of business parlance over the past few years, with more companies looking at a variety of ways to improve performance and productivity.

A simple way to achieve such gains is, in my opinion, through enhancing a workforce’s health and happiness. This belief is one of the reasons why I founded Shine Workplace Wellbeing earlier this year.

And the reason why we focus on working with smaller businesses is to ensure they can make these gains and overcome any notion that only larger businesses could afford to run wellbeing programs. 

A business really does not need a big budget to run any sort of wellbeing program - and often companies that place an importance on employee wellbeing see swift results. Such results could be: reduced absenteeism, more engaged staff, higher productivity, enhanced creativity, and a greater ability to retain and attract staff. 

I’m a relatively new FSB member (and obviously I hope to work with fellow members) and I’ve been impressed by the FSB’s recent Mental Health & Wellbeing Campaign. It’s great that such issues are being talked about more openly.

Often companies approach us around mental health issues and while we can advise on this topic in isolation, we like to offer an overarching approach to dealing with such issues, to be proactive and reduce the chances of mental health issues among staff arising.

For example, an introductory wellbeing workshop we run highlights how physical health, good diet, sleep, and workplace culture, all have a bearing on an individual’s mental health. So if companies can advise and engage with their employees on these areas (and potentially others), it should lead to a happier, healthier and ultimately more productive workforce. 

There are some great schemes that small businesses can follow to enhance their staff wellbeing. I recently attended the London Healthy Workplace Charter awards at City Hall where a client I’d helped with their application picked up their accreditation - a fine reward for their commitment to their staff. 

And while we’ve been working in and around London due to our Kingston-Upon-Thames location, we’ve also worked with clients in Newcastle and Manchester on some interesting projects. More enquiries are coming from outside the service sector and while every companies’ needs and outcomes differ, there is one area that has been consistent across all the businesses we’ve worked with so far - the enthusiasm of staff.

Physical and mental health and wellbeing are topics many people are passionate about, so finding staff members to be part of wellbeing teams or to help with activities is relatively straightforward. We encourage companies to allow their staff to help shape such schemes as it quickly strengthens the bond between employee and employer. 


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