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 2020, there were almost 6 million small businesses in the UK, with between 0-49 employees. This group accounts for over one-third of UK turnover and nearly half of UK employment.
The impact of absence
For a small business, people are the greatest asset. This means that illness can have a huge impact. The coronavirus pandemic has placed extra strain on small businesses and may have also caused a spike in absence, whether due to staff sickness from the virus or as a result of self-isolation.
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 built-in flexibility for others to take on extra work. This increased pressure could lead to stress and other health issues, and potentially, more staff absence. You can see how the impact multiplies, 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, 5.8 days off sick every year. Based on average weekly earnings, this can cost £658 per employee, per year.
Three-point action plan
To help support employee health and wellbeing and reduce absence, there are some simple steps that small business owners can take. Here is a three-point action plan to help you get started:
- Communication. As an employer, you’re well-placed to support employees with all aspects of health and wellbeing, and regular communication is key to helping them access support. There are many ways you can provide advice and guidance such as webinars on topics like nutrition, exercise and the importance of sleep, as well as reminding employees of any health benefits you have available.
- Flexibility. Consider the requirements of the jobs in your organisation and allow for flexibility. Allowing employees to shape their working day around personal commitments for example, can help remove stresses and redress work-life balance – in turn, improving overall wellbeing.
- Physical environment. Air quality and light exposure are both important factors for our physical health, and simple improvements to your workplace environment can have a significant impact on wellbeing. Something as straightforward as bringing 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.
Take a look at our infographic to find out how Simplyhealth can support your small business with health and wellbeing.
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