Wellbeing and performance shouldn’t be a balancing act for small business leaders, says Jill Whittaker, Managing Director of The Executive Development Network, but knowing what support employees want is a step in the right direction.
Three years on, it’s common knowledge that pandemic acted as a catalyst for individuals to monitor their mental health more closely, especially while in the workplace (be that remotely or in the office).
Large companies with robust resources have acted fast, with some implementing comprehensive systems to support employees’ state of mind, or providing access to wellbeing platforms, apps, and counselling services. And while the success of these initiatives is a tremendous achievement, it seems that managers of smaller businesses are facing huge challenges when it comes to supporting their employees’ mental health – but with the right training they can prioritise wellbeing in the workplace.
A recent study from University of York’s School for Business and Society1 has revealed that many managers of smaller companies are struggling to balance mental health assistance and performance management. Juggling these important factors of daily working life may feel like an impossible task, and managers’ mental health and stress levels must also be protected if they are to be able to build a strong foundational support that champions wellbeing at work.
We at The Executive Development Network (EDN) want to illuminate how important access to the right training is if employers want to support their employees to the standard they deserve.
Employee wellbeing can cover a multitude of issues: from nurturing the talent of neurodiverse individuals to educating teams about LGBTQIA+ inclusion. For a small business, ticking all the boxes might seem like an impossible task, but it’s one that they do need to undertake – our latest insights revealed tthat 85.8%2 of employees would be more likely to leave a job if there was no obvious support for employee wellbeing.
With businesses continuing to face staff retention issues – small businesses cannot afford not to implement wellbeing support. But what exactly is it that workers want to see?
Well, when it comes to enhancing their benefits package, the majority of employees (69.1%) told us they were keen to see measures implemented that help create a positive work-life balance, while first aid for mental health was a priority for 45.3%.
And when asked what more their workplace could offer to enhance its benefits package, employee responses to us included training in areas such as diversity and inclusion of ethnic minorities within the workplace (19.8%), LGBTQ+ inclusion (17.6%) and understanding the impact of menopause (19.4%).
Whether it’s providing an upskilled contact in the workplace for people to access immediate mental health first aid or ensuring that employees are aware of any additional support needed by their neurodiverse peers – offering these training opportunities will lead to a more progressive company culture (something 83.3% of employees are more attracted to when seeking new roles).
We know that employers want to invest in employee wellbeing – with more than 60% telling us they would be interested in focusing training to help create a positive work-life balance among staff, for example. But it seems that demand for this training from employees might at present outweigh supply in reality, especially with smaller businesses who may feel they do not have adequate resources, and that’s when working with an external training provider can alleviate the pressure.
2 Survey of 1,000 employees and 300 decision-makers across a range of business sectors conducted by 3GEM and HIT Training (March 2022)