In our most recent webinar – Small Business, Big Wellbeing – we explored how SMEs can prioritise employee wellbeing and create a positive workplace culture. Our expert panel shared their advice and experience on some of the challenges faced by small businesses and suggested some low-cost wellbeing ideas for organisations to adopt.
The topic was so popular that we didn’t have time to respond to all the questions posed by the 900+ attendees, so we’ve collated some of the most common themes into this SME wellbeing FAQ.
If you missed the webinar, remember you can watch the recording on our YouTube channel.
Q: How can SMEs provide flexible wellbeing support across different working styles, for example shift workers or remote workers?
No matter how well-planned your wellbeing strategy is, it’s important to bear in mind how it might be received by different segments of your workforce.
This is especially tricky if you have a split of working styles across the organisation, for example if one department is working shifts on site while another is working remotely.
Our recent research confirms that flexibility continues to be important to employees. In SMEs, flexible working is the most coveted benefit, with almost half (49%) of employees who do not have flexible working saying they wish their employer would offer it.
However, flexibility isn’t just about working hours – it also applies to your wellbeing benefits. If equal access to flexible working hours isn’t possible, it’s even more important to make sure you’re offering wellbeing benefits that employees can adapt to suit their own needs and lifestyle.
A few carefully chosen benefits can help bring a sense of equity across the workforce and bridge the gap between different work environments.
Initiatives such as a Mental Health First Aid, gym discounts, an online health portal or 24-hour telephone GP all provide ways for employees to access wellbeing provision on their own schedule.
To get started, you’ll need to take a closer look at the different needs across your organisation, so try our blog on whole-of-workforce wellbeing for practical tips on how wellbeing can help employees feel like they belong.
Q: How can our organisation help managers to prioritise their team’s wellbeing?
It’s common for people managers to feel like their time is already stretched between their own tasks and their managing responsibilities, so it’s not surprising that many struggle to provide consistent support for their team. This can be especially challenging for those manging remote workers.
It’s important to remember that managers are colleagues too, and they’ll require consistent support to help them perform at their best. At the heart of this issue is the need for a strong workplace culture which actively encourages people to invest time in their wellbeing.
The first step is to ensure that your leadership team are clearly communicating that wellbeing support is a priority and demonstrating this in how they manage their own workload. Both senior leaders and people managers should be able to ringfence time in their diaries to focus on wellbeing.
Once your managers develop an understanding of ‘why’ wellbeing is so important, they’ll often be able to find their own ‘how’ to implement it – as long as they’re supported by a culture that makes it a priority.
This clear communication, combined with regular training on key topics such as stress and mental health, can help give managers the confidence to better support their team.
Q: How can small businesses measure the impact of wellbeing in the workplace?
In SMEs, in-depth data can be difficult to collect and analyse, so the key to measuring the success of your wellbeing programme is to keep things simple.
Remember to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. This might be as simple as the number of employees engaging with a particular wellbeing benefit and their comments on how well it’s working for them. Don’t underestimate value of simply asking questions and listening to what your people have to say.
Equally, don’t be disheartened if your new initiatives take a while to get off the ground. A small sample size will make it more difficult to track the immediate impact of your efforts, but if you’re consistently asking for feedback, you’ll still be able to tailor your benefits to suit your employees’ needs.
If you want to put more structure in place, our blog on using feedback to support your wellbeing strategy includes a sample pulse survey and tips to help you ask the right questions.
Q: We have some wellbeing support in place but want to do more – what’s the best way to get buy-in from leaders at an SME?
When we asked webinar attendees what their current wellbeing strategy looks like, more than half (53%) said they have some wellbeing initiatives in place but want to do more.
The good news is that for smaller businesses it’s often not necessary to invest large sums in workplace wellbeing. Rather than trying to make the case for big-budget benefits, SMEs can play to their existing strengths to make a meaningful impact.
One key advantage for SMEs is their ability to be more agile in their approach, allowing them to put new benefits in place and test their effectiveness more easily.
To get leaders on board, present your employee feedback with a clear recommendation. By choosing just a few key benefits, you can get the ball rolling and start monitoring their progress without breaking the bank. Benefits that support mental health and work-life balance are often a great place to start, and these can help you get buy-in for further investment down the line.
Find out more about wellbeing for SMEs
Our Wellbeing for SMEs page includes free downloads of our latest report and webinar. These resources include in-depth advice on how small businesses can use wellbeing to improve the employee experience and attract top talent.