When people talk about employee wellbeing, it’s easy as a business owner to gulp and think about how much all this fluffiness is going to cost your business. When you’re running a small business, every bill makes a difference and we often see things like employee wellbeing as something that will eat away at that all important bottom line.

Here’s another way of looking at it though: a small investment now can save you much more money in the future. I went to a wellbeing breakfast this morning and although I know a lot of the things we should be doing, I know through fast growth executing some of the simpler stuff is not always simple. New agile office working conditions, the way we operate on trust with a certain level of grown up accountability and the determination to live by our purposes created interesting juxtapositions and I am not delivering currently as well as I should be on our cultural promise. I am working to put this right.

Factually, start up mode means every penny counts. Instilling staff to create an attitude that cares about every part of a cost and investment in growth matters. Equally though I need to remember better about the value we need to bring to each other in the workplace.

Did you know that companies in the UK lose £26 billion in productivity each year because of poor employee mental health. Investing in your employees’ wellbeing now can mean that you avoid losing money on low productivity and sick days further down the line.

A person’s mental state is crucial to their performance at work; a happy workforce is a productive workforce. A study published on the EEF website earlier this year about the role of health and wellbeing in manufacturing says that manufacturers could increase productivity by as much as 10% just by investing more resources in improving employee wellbeing. What is a 10% bump in productivity worth to you? As well as boosting productivity, by taking care of your employees you can lower the risk of losing workdays due to mental and/or physical poor health.

Today we discussed a whole breadth of challenges. How to communicate without abusing holiday time, how to accelerate and offer teams value that you can afford, but that you cannot satisfy all of the people all of the time. Small tokens of gratitude and even verbal recognition often go just as far as funds and financial rewards…a picnic in the park, a game of rounders, tickets to a comedy show?

The idea of wellbeing in the workplace is no longer reserved for new age, hippie companies. Wellbeing is becoming a much more widespread and popular concept across the board, including within work. When it comes to choosing a place to work, the culture and approach to employees’ mental and emotional health will factor in people’s decisions as to where they want to work. If you want to get the best people joining your team, you need to show them that yours is the best place to work. This means providing an employee wellbeing package, and showing that you genuinely care about your staff.

Taking care of employee wellbeing is important not only for attracting new employees, but keeping hold of the people you have. We all know that recruitment can be a major challenge in terms of finding the right person, but also it can be expensive to take on a new person and train them up. Better to keep hold of the A-grade players you already have, and to do this you need to take care of them.

If you look at the lists of the best companies to work for, you will no doubt find that all of them has employee wellbeing embedded into their culture. They place an importance on wellbeing which means not only do their employees value working for them, they achieve more by not having people off sick or working unproductively because they are at work feeling rubbish. I think innovations and progressive improvement comes from engaged employees and recently I have lent to much on education, knowledge share and not enough of the rounder qualities for wellbeing care.

In the same way that paying out for good advertising or business advice will pay dividends in the long run, investing in employee wellbeing – no matter how little – will pay off for you. Investing in employees’ physical and emotional wellbeing can completely transform your business in ways you can’t even imagine until you give it a go.

I do know my team value the freedom of where they work and a lot of flexibility on when and how. Travel flexibility and trust, common sense is a commodity worth offering yet without some structure employees may flounder. New employees out of a corporate role will find a non head office environment a whole new challenge and they need help – not too much isolation and expected self motivation. Showing that you care and you’re prepared to take care of your employees can only mean positive things for your business. When employees feel valued, working for your business will become more than just a job to them – and when you are running a small business, you need people who are really invested in your outcomes, above and beyond their monthly payslip.

You don’t need to spend a small fortune on this; encourage your team to come up with their own ideas about how you can embed wellbeing into your culture. Ask them what would help them to avoid getting too stressed, or what would make them feel good about coming to work. You might be surprised what they come up with. Most people are more interested in feeling valued at work than in fancy gimmicks or expensive benefits. Show them you value them; show caring when they need you to, and you might be surprised by how much you can all achieve together.

A final and I think very important point is that of leadership by example. Living the company’s purpose and recruiting from the outset a clear expectation of performance from A graders and a determination that we never stand still and have no time for waste nor complacency of any kind. These things need to be communicated to sort the wheat from the rest…I do get more than my ounce of flesh, I do believe I can ask and I hope my team know they too can ask of me. I serve them, I work hard to take any obstacles away and in return I hope we serve the customer to the best of our ability.

Written by Vicky Charles

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