In Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May) Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing (Howden) is launching its SME Hub, a free, dedicated HR & employee benefits resource to help time-poor SMEs to look after the health and wellbeing of their employees.

The SME Hub will include employee benefits and wellbeing news, insights and useful resources. It has been launched at a time when SMEs face many challenges, not least the impact of Covid-19 on their business, supporting their workforce through the pandemic and preparing for a safe return to work.

Last month the Royal College of Psychiatrists[i] warned that England is “in the grip of a mental health crisis”, highlighting a sharp rise in mental ill health that began after the first lockdown in March 2020.

A survey from Mental Health First Aid England[ii] found that a quarter of employees have had no wellbeing check-ins since the start of the pandemic, and nearly a third (29%) has never had a conversation with their line manager about their mental health. They call for employers to “catch up” to the mental health crisis.

Mark Fosh, Divisional Director, Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing said, “The Covid crisis has taken its toll on small businesses. Many are keen to better support the health and wellbeing of their employees but may not have a dedicated HR team or lack the required time and dedicated resources.

“Whilst mental health was moving up the corporate agenda before Covid, many issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Months of isolation from working at home, digital fatigue from endless hours spent on Zoom calls, plus many having to combine work with home-schooling or caring responsibilities has led to increased mental health issues.

“There are a rising number of employees suffering from stress, anxiety and depression[iii], as well as other issues such as musculoskeletal disorders because of poor working arrangements, lack of exercise or taking breaks during the day.  This could lead to increased employee absence which may be more acutely felt by smaller employers than larger ones, who will have greater ability to flex their workforce.

‘’We have created the SME Hub as a starting place and go-to-destination for businesses to get support to address these concerns. With free resources (including practical tips to help employees look after their own mental health), insight and advice on cost-effective solutions that can be introduced to improve health and wellbeing and an ‘ask the experts’ section. We hope this will be a hugely valuable tool for often over-stretched SMEs.

Healthy workforces are critical for business performance and the success of SMEs. By launching this Hub during Mental Health Awareness Week, we hope to encourage more businesses to focus on health and wellbeing, something which is essential as we move beyond the pandemic to ensure workers are healthy, productive, motivated and engaged.”

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Lisa Baker

Author Lisa Baker

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