Identify the needs of employees

For a small business, identifying the health and wellbeing needs of its employees is critical; an initial assessment will make these needs easier to manage in the future. If you're a small business just setting out on your wellbeing journey, staff engagement surveys form an effective way of getting employee feedback, so that you're more likely to develop an effective strategy and higher uptake later on. If your wellbeing programme is more developed, Bupa Global offers the HERO International Scorecard to SME customers, which is an online tool for employers to create an inventory of health and wellbeing best practice, benchmark their performance, and understand how they can improve over time.

Moving the dial from illness to wellness

Once you've identified what your employees want from their wellbeing programme, consider health assessments or screening programmes. Prevention is better than cure, and screening programmes can help employers to identify health issues - and roles that have differing mental and physical challenges. During a health assessment, in-depth tests can detect potential issues, including non-communicable diseases like cancer. Tailored advice and follow-up support is often offered so that employees can immediately start to make changes to their lifestyle. These assessments can also help the employer to put preventative programmes in place.

Gain insights, test and learn

Once you've identified and put these workplace health initiatives in place, the best way of getting value from them is to know how employees are using them. At Bupa Global, a new innovation we're offering small business customers is our SME dashboard* - a tool which helps employers see trends and how employees are using their health insurance. The dashboard offers claims statistics, data and insights, helping SMEs to tailor and develop their wellbeing initiatives and focus on what their employees actually want - such as a physical activity programme, access to healthy food or mental health support services. This in turn saves investment in areas that aren't being called for; and the resulting insights help businesses to better plan for future health challenges.

If health and wellbeing sounds like a big investment for a small business; consider the fact that health benefits and wellbeing programmes are often a key differentiator in the war for talent, helping businesses to retain and attract the very best people. A survey conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses in 2016 suggested that absences due to only minor ailments make up 75% of those surveyed in the SME sector; this works out at 1.8 days per employee per year. For a small business, an investment in workplace health often means the business impact and associated productivity can outstrip the initial cost, and better staff retention means less time and money spent on recruitment. This ultimately frees up resource so that the business can focus on what really matters - growth.