Wellness at work programmes not beyond the reach of small businesses


As small, but expanding, businesses, it can often seem like wellness programmes and EAPs are beyond your reach. Having an adequate and fully functional HR department or person is a must for any successful enterprise. Staff need nurturing; they have lives outside of work and sometimes these lives can interfere with their ability to do their job and vice versa. Their work may affect their home life.

From time to time, companies need to monitor their staff; to be aware of their mental health needs and to be able to refer employees for therapy if needed. If workers have physical health issues, encouraging them to see a GP is wise. The same is imperative for mental health.

Enterprises want a flourishing, fully engaged workforce. The opposite of engagement is burnout and this level of stress is detrimental to the organisation. It is in the best interests of the organisation to concentrate on staff wellbeing. The effects of occupational stress and burnout often do not lie in isolation – the atmosphere at work often changes, meaning reduced morale in many workers. Stress and burnout also result in higher sickness absence or loss of productivity for those that do go to work. It can even lead to higher staff turnover, higher attrition, and, consequently, higher organisational costs overall.

Employee Assistance Programmes

As a small business, running programmes are keeping up-to-date on your employees’ wellbeing may not be something you have time to do. But, taking time out every month to supervise your staff and see how they’re getting on is a good habit to get into.

Common mental health problems, such as mild to moderate depression and anxiety, affect one in four people. Being aware of the signs and symptoms, such as frequent days off, obsessive behaviour, low mood, fatigue and tearfulness may safeguard your workers and your organisation. Sometimes though, mental ill health is easy to disguise, so creating an open policy that allows your staff to seek out support, in confidence, is important for the health of your organisation.

Mental ill health is not to be ashamed of. Anyone, anywhere, can suffer its effects. The modern world places a lot of pressure on people and many are running at an almost full tank. One more stressor can flip the person over the edge. Self-care is a must.

As an organisation, you may also want to think about getting in touch with a workplace counsellor or therapist that can assist your staff or help run mental health awareness programmes. Off-site counsellors are a great way to support your teams. One-to-one counselling is particularly effective as it’s good to talk through problems and know that someone cares. Therapists are there to support clients through times of transition and emotional issues. They can help your workers gain a good sense of perspective on life and help them transition through difficult times, building resilience along the way.

Workshops are another great way that organisations can manage wellbeing. Generally more cost effective than one-to-one counselling, they’re a good way to teach team members key skills to manage their wellbeing. They’re also effective in upskilling employees, facilitating team bonding, and highlighting how teams can watch for signs and symptoms of mental ill health and stress, as well as work together, cohesively, to provide a safe and supportive workplace.

Sarah Tottle, Business Psychologist and Coach