Once you’ve decided you would like to focus on improving wellbeing in your small business, you need to consider what that will actually look like, and identify some changes, initiatives or actions you can take.
To make planning your wellbeing strategy easier, these can be divided into the various areas in which you as the employer can impact wellbeing. Some of the possibilities mentioned below do cost money, but some are either free or very low-cost, so there are plenty of ways a cash-strapped small business can improve wellbeing without incurring too much expenditure.
Having a pleasant environment at work definitely influences employee wellbeing. Look at things like lighting, kitchen, toilet and changing facilities – are these clean, well-kept and appropriate for staff needs? Do staff have access to refreshments, somewhere to eat their lunch. Even small things like plants in the office, bike racks outside and a lick of paint can all help.
Make sure that employees have sufficient training to enable them to perform their role well, but also prioritise the further development of staff. Show an interest in what new skills/areas of responsibility your staff are interested in, and facilitate their development with training, mentoring, coaching and resources where you can. There are plenty of free or low-cost resources for skills improvement and learning options available now.
Try to promote from within where possible and appropriate, so that staff feel developed and stay with you rather than looking elsewhere for career progression.
Ensure wherever possible that staff have variety in their work, have control over aspects of what they do, have a clear job description and understand their responsibilities and what is expected of them. Be clear about what contribution each role is making to your overall organisational objectives so staff understand how what they do makes a difference.
Make sure line management structures are clear so staff know who to go to in the event of a concern or query and understand where they ‘sit’ in the organisation.
Work life balance
Proactively encourage flexibility in work patterns where possible, enabling staff to work from home, vary their hours or even take career breaks. Offer childcare vouchers or other family-friendly benefits.
Positive relationships at work lead to better team-working and higher productivity so do what you can to foster this. Consider team building events, all-staff training options or social events
Leadership and values
Ensuring staff with management responsibilities receive adequate training and support can make a big difference to employee wellbeing as a supportive manager is key in staff morale. Avoid the temptation to promote staff who are good at their job into managerial roles without acknowledging that an entirely different set of skills and abilities are required.
It’s also worth doing some self-reflection about whether as a business owner you are leading your organisation in such a way as to ensure employees feel engaged, motivated and prioritised. If you don’t have organisational values, consider doing some work on developing some, and including staff in that process. If you have values in place, do they just sit there on the website or are they an active part of how your business operates, with each employee understanding and ‘living’ them in their work?
Prioritise health and safety, including making sure staff have the right training and resources to keep them safe at work, and that materials, tools and equipment are suitable and in good condition.
Consider using occupational health advice to identify, manage and reduce health concerns and the impact of sickness absence at work. You could also offer support to staff wishing to give up smoking, and raise awareness about various health issues through offering information and resources or sessions with a visitor speaker from a relevant charity or other organisation.
Implementing Cycle to Work initiatives or offering gym membership as part of your employee benefits are other things to consider.
Look into Employee Assistance Programmes with telephone counselling available to staff. These don’t have to be expensive. Make sure you have a clear and effective policy on bullying and harassment and an effective approach to identifying and reducing stress at work. Consider training for staff on mental health issues to improve awareness, reduce stigma attached to mental ill-health and encourage staff to seek help.
HR policies and initiatives
Even in a small business without full-time HR support, you can still ensure you have suitable HR policies to meet your business needs, that you have effective, supportive performance management arrangements in place, that you prioritise equality and diversity and provide employees with clear information about their roles, their contracts and their remuneration and benefits.
There are lots of options, with a variety of cost and management-time implications, but even in the smallest workplace there are things you can do to improve the wellbeing of your staff, and ensure your business benefits from the bottom-line impacts of high wellbeing rates.
If you would like more advice to help identify and plan your wellbeing strategy do get in touch.