Companies are failing to prioritise health and wellbeing, according to new research.
The research, conducted by AXA PPP healthcare, found that UK small businesses are struggling to respond to health and wellbeing needs of employees amid high stress and anxiety.
Small businesses employ more than 16 million people and make up half of the UK’s economy, yet the research revealed that eight out of ten SME business leaders don’t have a health and wellbeing strategy in place.
The findings come as a stark warning for small business leaders as the same research polling 1,500 people who work in SMEs found 24 per cent report experiencing job-related stress or anxiety, and just 15 per cent believe their company provides a culture which supports their mental health.
The research also found that 46 per cent of employees working in small and medium sized businesses continue working when they’re feeling unwell and less than a quarter see a GP because they worry about taking time off work.
But it’s not just coughs and colds keeping hard-working adults from leaving their workload behind. One-fifth (18 per cent) feel guilty for taking time away from their desk for lunch and more than a quarter (27 per cent) send and receive emails outside of work hours, suggesting an ‘always on’ mentality could be contributing to the health issues stacking up for many small businesses.
Speaking at the second instalment of The AXA Growth Leaders Series, hosted by The Supper Club, wellbeing expert and entrepreneur, Liz Earle MBE said not prioritising the health and wellbeing of employees is a real business risk.
Earle said, “Whether you’re leading a multi-national organisation or a small start-up, your employees are the most valuable asset.”
“Leaders who support and enable a wellbeing-focused workplace can enjoy a more productive and profitable business.”
“It’s often been said that if you look after your people, they will look after your customers, which drives your bottom line.”
“But it’s also important for business leaders to note that you can’t look after your employees – or your business – if you don’t look after yourself.”
She added, “Leading by example and embedding good wellbeing habits in the workplace is incredibly important.”
“In small businesses leaders are often more visible among their team and can create the positive environment that helps their people thrive.”
AXA PPP healthcare CEO, Tracy Garrad added, “Burnout is now recognised by the World Health Organisation as an occupational phenomenon.”
“It’s becoming a workplace epidemic that poses significant risks for small businesses.”
“While it’s encouraging that 41 per cent of small business leaders polled said they’d like to have a health and wellbeing strategy, more needs to be done to move the dial and change perceptions about health and wellbeing measures being the sole preserve of larger organisations.”
“The reality is small businesses make up more than half the UK’s total workforce and their employees are crying out for greater support.”