Insurance · 14 September 2015

Small business employers “gambling” with staff health and wellbeing

Business profit can be directly linked to staff health and wellbeing
Business profit can be directly linked to staff health and wellbeing

With three-quarters of British small and medium-sized enterprise owners and directors admitting that the long-term absence of an employee has had an impact on business growth, health insurance provider Bupa believes businesses in this space are failing when it comes to sufficient support.

Research carried out by Bupa, involving 500 owners and directors, found that less than half (46 per cent) see employee health and wellbeing as being a key component to future growth.

However, with nearly 32 per cent stating that they had lost money because of sickness absence, Bupa is calling on business leaders to recognise the impact of a healthy workforce on the growth and sustainable future of their firms.

A quarter (24 per cent) of SME leaders state that their companies have become less concerned with health and wellbeing as growth has been achieved. Furthermore, an additional quarter claim they “don’t have the time to think about employee health” – with only 13 per cent employing HR professionals with specific responsibility for employee health and wellbeing.

Richard Norris, SME director at Bupa, commented: “Many UK businesses are at the tipping point of success. SMEs must recognise that health and wellbeing is not a concern for later, but a key lever that should be an integral part of their growth strategy from the start.

“If small business owners continue to sideline employee wellbeing, they risk losing market share and good talent to more supportive competitors. By supporting the health and wellbeing of their people, leaders are helping to protect the long-term health of their business.”

Three in ten SME leaders believe they are not at the size where they need to take employee health and wellbeing seriously, while one in ten say they will wait until they have over 100 employees to provide health-related benefits.

Shedding light on the opinions of small business owners, Bupa’s study found a third believe health and wellbeing benefits are just for larger corporations.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

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