Mind and Federation of Small Businesses launch guidance on mental health in the workplace
Posted Monday 14 March 2011
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has teamed up with Mind to publish guidance to help small firms manage mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and support their staff.
Conditions such as anxiety, depression and unmanageable stress affect one in six British workers each year, and can cost businesses up to £26 billion annually. However, simple steps can help to manage mental health issues in the workplace and promote the wellbeing of staff which could save firms up to one third of these costs.
The FSB has teamed up with Mind as many small businesses are in an ideal position to make the kind of simple, cost effective and non-bureaucratic changes that will help improve staff wellbeing and ultimately save money.
Small businesses are flexible by their very nature. Research by the FSB shows that
- 47 per cent of small firms have staff that work part-time
- 29 per cent have staff that work flexible hours
- 27 per cent have staff who work from home.
Of a further two-thirds of small businesses that offered flexible working, only four per cent restricted this to parents with small children.
In the UK, 99 per cent of all business are small firms – those employing less than 49 people. FSB research shows that a third of the workforce of the smallest firms – those with less than 10 employees – works part-time, while this is only true of 14 per cent of those who work in big businesses. People tend to be happier working in a small business because of their flexible nature and tight-knit relationship the owners have with their staff.
Yet regardless of this, small firms tend to have rules and regulations imposed on them by Government, which can be unsuitable for small businesses. The FSB believes that small firms are best placed to judge the actions they should take in this area that best suit their staff and business.
The FSB worked with Mind to adapt its existing guide, ‘Taking care of business’, to help give common sense, non-burdensome advice so small business owners can best manage mental health in the workplace, and help support members of staff without unnecessary red tape. The guidance includes recommendations, such as:
- Talking to the employee to see what adjustments they might need to their working environment
- Promoting a supportive working environment with regular catch-ups or peer support
- Considering an informal mentoring scheme where suitable to help members of staff understand the business faster and support them in their role
- Flexible working and involving the employee in the planning of their workload where possible
John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses: Small businesses are like a tight-knit family and know their staff well, so by their very nature are flexible employers. Small businesses have to abide by an array of rules and regulations, but they are best placed to choose what their staff and business needs.
Small businesses have good relationships with their staff, but this guide suggests ways to help increase productivity and performance of their employees while saving the business money. Many small businesses will already be doing these.
Sophie Corlett, Mind's Director of External Relations: Employees will experience work related stress and mental health problems in any business, but some small employers may have concerns about how they can support staff experiencing mental health issues and the cost implications for their business. The fact is, taking small steps to support staff at an early stage can result in significant cost savings for small businesses.
Plenty of small businesses are already half way there by providing their staff with good quality working relationships and options for flexible working. The next step is for employers to acknowledge mental health issues, create an open culture where employees can raise problems and extend existing practices to help staff stay mentally healthy. In many cases this is already happening.
- The FSB is Britain's leading business organisation with over 210,000 members. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the self-employed, and all those who run their own business. More information is available on the FSB website.
- Download a copy of the guidance, ‘Taking care of business’.
- Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. It works to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress. Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.
Mind media team
T: 020 8522 1743
m: 07850 788514
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- Andrew Cave, Chief Spokesperson: 07917 628991
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- Sara Lee: 020 7592 8113/ 07595 067068
Regional FSB contacts at www.fsb.org.uk/regions