Addressing health and wellbeing of the UK’s small business community

Press Releases 18 Sep 2017

The health and wellbeing of small business owners, the self-employed, and indeed the staff of small employers are at the heart of a new campaign launched by The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The new drive from FSB will help its members - and the wider 5.5 million-strong small business community across the UK - reap the benefits of a positive approach to wellbeing, which are felt not only by the business they run but also by the economy and society as a whole.

The campaign has been launched in response to a rise in incidents of health and mental health conditions across the UK’s workforce, including business owners and the self-employed. The annual bill for sickness absence already sits at £29 billion across the UK, while research from FSB’s medical and health advice service, show that the number of small businesses seeking mental health advice has doubled in the last five years.

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “Owning and running a business can be hugely rewarding. However, it brings with it demands, responsibilities and risks that can bring personal pressures that can impact a person’s health and wellbeing.”

“Wellbeing can help increase our productivity, improve our performance and reduce absenteeism. There is a clear business case, however, the benefits are felt just as much in our health as individuals, but also by our communities and the wider economy.”

Alongside Public Health England and other organisations, such as the mental health charity, Mind, FSB has developed Wellbeing in Small Business: a short guide’, a guide aimed at providing small businesses owners and the self-employed with a raft of ideas they can adopt to improve mental health and wellbeing. It includes advice on how to start conversations about stress, mental health and wellbeing, tackling loneliness, managing pressures including through flexible working arrangements, networking, ‘in-work’ fitness groups and improving the physical environment.

Despite 60 per cent of the UK’s private sector workforce now being employed by small businesses the advice and support for employers and individuals in supporting health and well-being has generally focused on large companies. This guide and the campaign aims to be the first step in addressing this.

Mike Cherry continued: “Small business owners can play a vital role in improving the lives of their employees through a variety of actions - from innovative and new ideas to simple steps such as encouraging more activity and regular breaks.

“There’s never going to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and not every idea will be suitable for every business. We are, however, seeing some real innovation from small business owners for themselves and their teams. It is important that small business owners find the ideas that work for their business, themselves and their staff.”

Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England, said: “Britain’s 5.5 million small businesses are the backbone of the nation’s economy so it is imperative that they have the tools they need to keep their workforce healthy.

“Staff who are healthy in work are more productive and businesses that promote a progressive approach to wellbeing can see a significant impact on business performance.

“This invaluable guide from the FSB highlights simple steps a small employer can take to help improve the health of their employees. This includes low or no cost actions, including signposting to opportunities such as the One You ‘Couch to 5k’ and ‘Active 10’ app or local lunchtime run clubs, or promoting active travel like cycling to work.” 

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said: “Workplace wellbeing is increasingly at the top of employers’ agendas, which is welcome. After all, a recent Mind survey found that 56 per cent of workers polled said they found work very or fairly stressful. We all have mental health just as we all have physical health, and it can fluctuate from good to poor for any number of reasons.

“Whether you are self-employed or run a business, mental health should be a top priority for you. It is really important to promote wellbeing and take steps to tackle the work-related causes of poor mental health among your staff, as well as looking after your own wellbeing. Mentally healthy workplaces are associated with engaged, productive and loyal staff so it’s in everyone’s best interests to prioritise mental health at work. There are positive steps that you can take to promote good mental health including promoting the benefits of volunteering, up-skilling and continued learning, practicing mindfulness, building connections with others, and being active.

“We’re pleased to be supporting FSB in taking this forward and would encourage small employers and the self-employed to make good use of this guide.” 


Notes to editor

Notes to editors:

  1. The FSB Wellbeing in Small Business campaign runs from 18 – 29 September and is supported by CIPD, FSB Care, Mind, Public Health England and the UK Green Building Council.
  2. You can read the ‘Wellbeing in Small Business: How you can help’ guide here.
  3. The annual bill for sickness absence currently sits at £29 billion across the UK: Health at Work - Economic evidence report for workplace health 
  4. Stats provided by RedArc, FSB Care’s health and medical advice provider

About Mind

  • We’re Mind, the mental health charity. We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. We won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect. www.mind.org.uk
  • Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.
  • Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am - 6pm, Monday – Friday)
  • Contact Mind’s Media Team for interviews or further information on 0208 522 1743. For out of hours support, call 07850 788 514 or email [email protected].
  • To access to a range of free images to accompany mental health news stories, visit: www.time-to-change.org.uk/getthepicture. These images have been developed by Time to Change, a campaign to change how we all think and act about mental health problems. Time to Change is led by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.

About FSB

As the UK’s largest business support group, FSB is the voice of the UK’s small businesses and the self-employed. Established over 40 years ago to help its members succeed in business, FSB is a non-profit making and non-party political organisation that’s led by its members, for its members. As the UK’s leading business campaigner, FSB is focused on delivering change which supports smaller businesses to grow and succeed.

FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services, including access to finance, business banking, legal advice and support along with a powerful voice in Government. Each year FSB also runs the UK’s Celebrating Small Business Awards. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk. You can follow us on twitter @fsb_policy and on Instagram @fsb_uk.

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David Moore-Crouch
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