New advice videos give recommendations for SME owners to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

New advice videos give recommendations for SME owners to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

Professor Dame Carol Black is an expert government advisor on health and work and a passionate campaigner for better mental health and wellbeing. Her three short videos were produced by the British Safety Council, whose recent study, Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work, found that employee wellbeing is often ignored or misunderstood, with employers unsure how to define it or how to improve staff wellbeing, what priority to give it and how to measure the effectiveness of wellbeing interventions and programmes.

The advice includes companies focusing on different wellbeing topics each month, such as alcohol. She also emphasises that employers should make toolkits for mental health available online for employees to easily download, and suggests SME owners sign a mindful employer charter.

Black said that the role of line managers should not be underestimated: “You have to help them understand that supporting their staff is going to give them a more engaged and productive workforce. You must enable them to do this. It's not just about putting managers on training courses, but also ensuring that they can maintain these skills and are supported by the top of the house.”

“You could incentivise them through their appraisal, which in many companies is linked to promotion and remuneration. Some organisations’ appraisals expect managers to meet certain requirements relating to the health and wellbeing of their staff. You can also incentivise managers financially.”

She recommends measuring wellbeing through sickness absence levels and by reviewing staff turnover figures, because “if staff are not content with a workplace, they leave”. Additionally, business owners can measure engagement scores and productivity loss, by examining presenteeism, which is when employees come into work despite being ill, and absence levels.

At a time of high job insecurity and the uncertainties of Brexit, Black said: “There is no better time than now to say that we must support the staff we’ve got because we don’t know how many of them we are going to have in the future.”

Matthew Holder, Head of Campaigns at the British Safety Council, said: “We are delighted that Professor Carol Black has agreed to share her expertise with us. She is an authoritative voice on workplace wellbeing, which, although high on the corporate agenda, it is still perceived as ‘fluffy’ and difficult to measure.

“Her suggestions are accessible, practical and instantly actionable. We hope that together with the intelligence gathered in our Wellbeing at work report, Professor Black’s videos will become a first point-of-call reference source for companies wishing to develop a culture of wellbeing.”

Watch the videos here:

- Wellbeing in the workplace

- Wellbeing and line managers

- Wellbeing and SMEs.