Employee wellbeing is being compromised by SME owners’ lack of understanding, but a new report explains how this can be rectified.

Research from healthcare provider Bupa in 2015 found that just 46% of SME owners said that employee health and wellbeing will be a key consideration as they grow their business, 43% will never consider providing health and wellbeing benefits, 28% think that their companies are too small to take health and wellbeing seriously, with 32% thinking that it was more the domain of larger companies.

The main reasons cited for this situation were the difficulties of defining wellbeing, selecting the best tools for assessing wellbeing programmes and measuring the cost-effectiveness of these interventions.

Employees also said that inadequate people skills of many line managers and low priority given by them to employee wellbeing are also important factors.

Responding to these challenges, the British Safety Council, which helps workplaces improve their health and safety standards, has published a report which is a comprehensive review of the existing literature and market intelligence.

Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work defines wellbeing in the workplace and suggests a set of metrics for effectively measuring wellbeing programmes and policies.

The report is a call to action for employers in Britain to place the wellbeing needs of their workers at the top of the executive agenda.

It includes the following proposals:

1. Employees must be given the opportunity to participate in the creation and development of initiatives designed to improve their own health and wellbeing.

2. Line managers must be appropriately trained in mental health awareness and the relevant support mechanisms, so that they have the confidence to communicate with employees in a caring and sensitive manner.

3. Organisations should evaluate the impact and efficacy of their health and wellbeing interventions on a regular basis, to ensure that they adapt and respond to the changing needs of their workers.

4. Workers’ wellbeing is linked to job quality, which is expressed through a healthy working environment, fair wages, strong relationships with managers and colleagues, job design, a degree of responsibility and authority, workload, working hours, and career development prospects.

Lawrence Waterman, Chairman of the British Safety Council, said: “The Wellbeing at Work report represents the British Safety Council’s contribution to establishing rigorous, evidence-based workplace interventions which enhance the wellbeing of everyone involved.

“It calls for commitment, clear thinking and effective action, not only to make our workplaces healthy and safe, but also to make a tangible impact on improving the lives of all workers.”