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Small Business Ideas For 21st Century Wellbeing

The history of small business

These days, small business has become big business. In fact, according to a statistic that’s quoted on the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) website, SMEs comprise 99.9 per cent of all private sector businesses in the UK in terms of their numbers. That’s a lot of businesses – and also according to the FSB, small business employs 14.1 million UK workers. That’s more than the population of Belgium.

Creative Commons License photo credit: @CreateNWE – European Project – #CreateNWE

And of course many small businesses go on to grow and become massive, unbeatable brands. Just look at Tesco, who started life as a market stall in the East End of London, at Hackney.

The demographics of small business have changed massively over time as well, and these days – rather than small businesses being solely things like corner shops, window cleaning businesses and so on, technology has meant that there’s a bewildering diversity to small and medium (SME) enterprise – from ceramics to software tech startups and lots more.

SMES and wellbeing

Regardless of the variety and dynamism within the SME sector, there’s one thing all SMEs have in common – and that’s the need to focus on wellbeing, since avoiding sickness absence (or at least keeping it to a minimum) can have a very real effect on productivity and the bottom line.

So, what can SME businesses do to make sure that wellbeing is maximised and sick leave minimised? It’s often more of a challenge for smaller businesses since there may not be the budget or HR resources that larger corporate businesses are likely to have access to.

Small business ideas for health and wellness

It’s always worth remembering that as a small business, you’re not alone. And the many of the things you experience or are considering regarding health – such as drawing up a wellbeing strategy and so on – these are all shared by many other businesses too.

In fact, the In Business For Good annual summit for small businesses aims to provide SME organisations with practical advice, and peer support, and offers podcasts from wellbeing experts and other resources. Things like this are worth checking out, as they can often open up new ideas about workplace health with people sharing experience and tips.

There are plenty of free resources for SMEs on the topic of wellbeing – with things like the NHS Health4Work free advice line providing information on any health issues that may be affecting you or your employees. The site also has a ‘knowledge base’ section containing useful guides on things like phased return to work, performing risk assessments, and so on. The address for the site is

Sickness absence reduction and staff wellness can also be aided by employee benefits such as group health insurance – providers have a range of cover levels available depending on size of business, budget, organisational requirements and so on. There are also EAPs designed for the SME market.

One issue that’s made a lot of headline space over the last few years (and especially in the time following the economic downturn) is that of stress. And with an estimated 1 in 6 UK workers reportedly suffering from either stress/ anxiety or depression at any one time, it’s an issue no business can afford to ignore. But it’s also a personal issue too –how we learn to work in more effective and stress-free ways, identify our stressors and so on. Indeed, in one study that was reported earlier in the year, 2 in 5 of the British SMEs surveyed felt that stress was affecting their business.

So, part of any workplace strategy for wellbeing should have a mental health focus as well as physical health.  Training is available for various stress reduction techniques including mindfulness, which is promoted by the Mental Health Foundation on their site and through

Author Sarah Dall is a business health blogger specialising in group health insurance, human resources and workplace wellbeing.For more on group medical insurance, AXA PPP healthcare have a range of useful information as well as extensive health informatiom onsite.

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