Why wellbeing should be one of the central principles in business

  • 23 Aug 2019

A new Wellbeing in Small Business Award is amongst the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2020 that are open for entries. The award will recognise and celebrate the smaller firms that are demonstrating initiatives and practices that prioritise wellbeing and health in the workplace to help drive the UK’s productivity.  

The annual bill for sickness absence and presentism sits at £29 billion across the UK while research from FSB’s member medical and health advice service shows that the number of small businesses seeking mental health advice has doubled in the last five years.


Addressing mental health in the workplace remains a challenge, particularly for smaller workplaces and the self-employed. Research shows that poor mental health in the workplace is widespread, with around half (48%) of people saying they have experienced a mental health problem in their current job.

However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has been working with a range of partners such as Mind; the UK Green Building Council; Public Health England and others to help small businesses make improvements to the wellbeing of themselves and their staff.

“More often than not, such initiatives lead to increased productivity, greater staff retention and can help to attract new talent.” said Mike Cherry, the Federation of Small Businesses’ national chairman.

“A company that demonstrates commitment to wellbeing can also help to cement a strong and positive reputation with external customers and suppliers.” said public relations specialist Kerry Curtis.

There’s never going to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and not every idea will work for every business. Yet, initiatives don’t need to have a huge financial ticket. There are many affordable ideas, from being more open about mental health within the workplace to improving the physical working environment – more daylight and living plants, for example.

FSB member Naomi Murray, co-founder of Botanica Health in Tunbridge Wells, is a staunch advocate of ‘forest bathing’. This is simply taking time to surround yourself in nature which can have a positive effect on wellbeing.

Aaron Crewe, another FSB member, says his company is committed to the wellbeing of all who work there. For example, he says, “We allow people to take breaks whenever they like. We have a big board up for staff saying ‘it’s ok to take breaks; it’s ok to make mistakes’,” Aaron says that if we all think it’s ok to make mistakes, we are more likely to learn more and ultimately contribute more to creativity and to the business.


Mental Health First Aid for the workplace instructor Clive Stevenson, is encouraging all small businesses to consider taking mental health first aid training. All employers have a duty of the health and safety at work. But, “It goes beyond legal obligation; it affects the bottom line.” says Clive.

“Anything you can do to maximise the productivity of your staff by keeping them healthy, well and happy, is really worth doing,” advises Elinor Huggett of the UK Green Building Council. “We’ve found that things like the layout of the work space, the amount of greenery, the quality of air, the amount of natural light, all have a big impact on the average person’s wellbeing.”

Find out more about the new Wellbeing in Small Business Awards at fsbawards.co.uk

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