What can small businesses do to improve the wellbeing of their employees?

At HWBInspiration we are passionate about helping organisations to keep people happy and healthy in work.  We have developed an organisational level health and wellbeing assessment framework for organisations to review how well they are creating the conditions for people to flourish at work.  We designed this framework for predominantly medium to large organisations (over 250 employees).  We have supported smaller organisations to use the framework, to identify where to start and they have found it helpful.  However, we often get asked what can smaller organisations do right now around health and wellbeing?  Our search about ‘what works for small business began by looking at the What Works Wellbeing publication on Wellbeing in Small Business.      

They talked to 6 small businesses. Each of the businesses they interviewed described interventions which can be linked to addressing some of the recognised drivers of wellbeing, principles of quality work and through improving the characteristics of what makes a good job, they also identified the challenges they faced. What Works Wellbeing have identified five drivers for wellbeing and nine characteristics that make a good job

Wellbeing drivers 

  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Security
  • Environment
  • purpose 

Characteristics that make a good job

  • Control over ones job 
  • Clarity of what is expected
  • Variety in what one does 
  • Positive relationships with managers, co-workers and customers
  • Belief that ones workplace and pay is fair 
  • Sense of personal purpose and of wider value to others
  • Opportunities to use and develop ones skills
  • Safe and pleasant work environment 
  • Supportive supervision
  • Sense of job security and clear career prospects 
  • Good work life balance 

Here is a very brief summary of what those small businesses are doing – find out more in the full publication


  • Monthly 10 minute 1:1’s to monitor wellbeing 
  • Encouraging regular breaks in pairs during the day
  • Quarterly outings
  • Celebrating birthdays 
  • Regular team meetings during work hours 
  • Wellbeing champion to organise events 
  • Values framework
  • Regular communication with staff 
  • Staff surveys and focus groups 


  • Encourage people to take longer breaks during quieter times
  • Making time for a cuppa, playing music 
  • Promoting healthy habits 
  • Site visits by physio’s and occupational health experts 
  • Health checks 
  • Staff mentors following return to work
  • Mental health awareness 
  • Exercise classes 
  • Step counters


  • Public recognition for staff and their achievements 
  • Engaging with the local community 
  • Opportunities for training 

Whatever size of organisation you run or work in, there are plenty of small things that can make a big difference to what people think and feel about their work environment.  Start where you can and focus on what’s important.

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