A study by HR and payroll specialist Moorepay has found working in a small business is twice as stressful compared to larger enterprises. The study found that 12 per cent of employees working in firms with fewer than 50 employees suffer from stress on a constant basis, compared to 8 per cent in larger companies.
The Health and Safety Executive reports that over 11 million days are lost at work a year because of stress, costing the UK economy over £5 billion each year. Businesses with smaller workforces are hit the hardest as they often don’t have the additional resources to fill the gaps.
Despite this, many SMEs struggle to support their staff and alleviate work pressures. Moorepay’s research found that half (47 per cent) of small businesses don’t provide mental health support to staff, compared to the national average of a third (34 per cent).
Employees across businesses of all sizes agree on what would help combat stress at work, with flexible working (44 per cent), reducing working hours (34 per cent) and offering access to counselling (34 per cent) coming out as the top three initiatives.
“There are many advantages to working in for a small firm, but these businesses often lack the time and resources to devote to wellbeing and mental health initiatives,” explains Andrew Weir, employer services manager at Moorepay.
“Businesses, whatever their size, have a duty of care to support their employees,” he says. “Supporting staff with stress or other mental health issues doesn’t have to be expensive or involve a complete process overhaul. Many effective initiatives are simple to introduce and within easy reach for many smaller organisations. Insight in people data is crucial to helping smaller firms identify warning signs and provide help and support where it’s needed. This includes absence, training and progression data. Ultimately this will have positive impact on productivity, and the bottom-line.”