Wellbeing in small business: How you can help

People who are self-employed and run their own businesses are used to being self-reliant. But being self-reliant doesn’t have to mean going it alone – often the simplest and first step to better wellbeing can be to talk about it, whether it's about how you feel or how somebody you employ feels. It’s important for people to feel comfortable discussing their mental health, and that everyone in your organisation feels able to talk about stress that they experience, or problems that they feel are affecting them day-to-day. One thing you might consider is to find a mentor who you can talk to about problems in your business.

Job Design Matters

It is important you and your staff are able to balance work and home life, manage work pressures and feel encouraged and motivated at work. As self-employed people and small business owners, you know the value of hard work and that our jobs have a big impact on our health and wellbeing. The Labour Force Survey in 2007/08 found that an estimated 442,000 individuals in Britain believed that they were experiencing work related stress at a level that was making them ill. Having a clear policy on flexible working can increase working performance and employee engagement, and allows employees to better manage their work and home life. There are many different forms of flexible working, including homeworking, part-time working, flexitime or job sharing. You have legal obligations if employees request to work flexibly, but try and proactively think of ways in which your employees might be able to work more flexibly. To find out more about your legal duties on flexible working you can use FSB’s Legal AdviceLine.

Physical Design Matters

The buildings we work in can make a huge difference – both positive and negative – to how we feel day-to-day. 85 per cent of people in England agree that the quality of the built environment influences the way they feel. Improving the environment you work in can be one of the easiest things to do – but it could also make the biggest difference. Good air quality can lead to enhanced wellbeing and health. Poor workplace air quality can lead to health problems such as headaches, fatigue, and a lack of concentration. Try bringing some extra plants into your work space. For businesses that are office based, rotating seating location so employees can share window desks and having walking meetings are two easy strategies which can increase light exposure. Research from the Get Britain Standing campaign highlights that we sit for an average of 8.9 hours a day. Sitting for longer than four hours a day can lead to stiffness, back pain, muscular issues and can increase blood sugar levels.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

The healthier you are, the easier you might find it to keep working when you need to. Taking care of your body can support both your physical and mental health. Exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50 per cent. Food and sleep are the building blocks of a healthy body, so it is important that we eat healthily and get the right amount of sleep. Everyone should try and eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and drink plenty of water. The NHS Choices website has a range of interactive tools, apps and podcasts which you might want to have a look through and perhaps share with staff.

Support for you and your staff when it’s needed

Keeping yourself and your staff healthy is incredibly important – it’s equally important to access the help you or your staff need if one of you develops a disability or health condition while in work. If somebody falls out of work, not only can it lead to the loss of a valued member of staff for a business, but it can lead to worse health outcomes for them and contribute to negative economy-wide outcomes. Self-employed and small businesses are relatively successful in comparison to the rest of the private sector in employing people with disabilities – it is great for you, your business and indeed your staff, if you can think of extra steps you can take to build an inclusive, supportive workplace. With an increasingly ageing workforce, it’s more vital than ever for all businesses to think about how they can make jobs work. If you’re creating a new position, taking on a new member of staff, or thinking about what changes you can make to existing jobs, make sure you consider how you can help ensure that musculoskeletal conditions don’t prevent you from getting the best staff. 

Reaching Out

Sometimes you don’t have all the answers, and if you find yourself faced with a situation you don’t quite understand, don’t be afraid to talk to the experts.

FSB Care is the medical and health advice service offered to FSB members. It can support members with a variety of health conditions and give advice on wellbeing.