Investing in wellbeing benefits can help small businesses engage their workforce and stand out in the job market. So if you’re looking to improve wellbeing in your SME, where should you focus your efforts to deliver valuable support your people really need?

Workplace wellbeing benefits can help reduce absences, speed up the return to work, improve morale and make your business more attractive to job candidates.

Providing access to wellbeing support helps your people feel valued and supported at work. Almost three-quarters (72%) of SME employees say they find their wellbeing support useful, with over a third (36%) using it every month.

Your wellbeing benefits might include things like online counselling or virtual training sessions to help employees manage their mental health. Other popular benefits include private healthcare and telephone GP services, which can give your employees speedy access to healthcare when they need it most.

Looking after workers’ wellbeing can help businesses save money by reducing sick days, improving productivity1 and reducing employee turnover.

With the average business spending £6,4002 per head to recruit and train new employees, keeping your top talent on board has big financial benefits.

According to UK workers, their employee benefits package is the third most important factor when choosing a job, behind only salary and flexitime arrangements. When budgets are tight, investing in wellbeing can be a great way to enhance your employee benefits package, offering an alternative to a pay rise without breaking the bank.



To make meaningful changes to employee wellbeing, SMEs must open a dialogue with their people to understand what they need to feel happier and more productive at work.

Typically we find that mental health is one area where you can make a real impact on a modest budget. UK SMEs lost around £11bn to mental health absences in 2022, but there are lots of options to help support your people.

Telephone counselling, Mental Health First Aid and our exclusive Smart Wellbeing platform all provide employees with valuable wellbeing support, with minimal admin for business leaders or HR teams.

The most sought-after benefits as voted by employees are:

  • Private health insurance
  • Access to counselling
  • Mental health days
  • 24/7 GP service
  • Health check ups

These are some of the least expensive yet most valuable benefits for SMEs to put in place, so they’re a great way to make your investment in wellbeing work harder for your people.

To make sure you’re getting the most value out of your investment in wellbeing you can:

  • Ask your people what they need. A wellbeing survey the simplest way to make sure your workplace benefits are valuable, yet only around 1 in 3 SME employees say they’ve filled one in.
  • Measure what’s working well and focus your efforts. Your employees’ needs will change over time so you might need to replace lesser-used benefits with more relevant options.
  • Make sure everyone’s aware of the benefits you’re offering and how to access them. This might include a regular update for managers so they can share new information with their team.

Get in touch to chat to one of our Health and Wellbeing Consultants who can guide you through the best options for your business, or try our tailored digital wellbeing programme — Smart Wellbeing.

The Big Opportunity How small businesses can attract, retain and engage top talent using wellbeing

In September 2022, we asked over 2,000 UK employees about their perceptions of small and large businesses in terms of wellbeing, workplace benefits and culture. While the majority (76%) of workers are generally satisfied with their current position, almost half (46%) are either actively or considering looking for their next role. In this short report, we explore how small and medium-sized enterprises (businesses with 50–249 employees) can use wellbeing to capitalise on this big opportunity.

Webinar – Small business, big wellbeing: How SMEs can prioritise employee wellbeing and create a positive culture.

Watch our webinar and hear from our expert panel as they provide tips and advice for SMEs on how to prioritise employee wellbeing and create a positive culture.

What you’ll learn:
  • Insights from the Director General of the BCC on the challenges that SMEs are currently facing.
  • Why employee wellbeing is so important in smaller organisations.
  • Tips and low-cost wellbeing ideas for organisations to adopt.
  • How to measure the impact of employee wellbeing initiatives.
Our expert panellists:
  • Shevaun Haviland, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce
  • Vicky Walker, Group Director of People, Westfield Health
  • Alex Lucas, Senior Research Analyst, ukactive (Research Institute)
Hosted by:
  • Ellie Calton, HR Advisor, Westfield Health

Useful resources

Blog post:

Why workplaces need Mental Health First Aiders®

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Blog post:

Our changing attitudes to mental health: key findings

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Solution: Mental Health First Aid

Courses designed to raise awareness and reduce stigma

View now