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March 14, 2011

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FSB launches ‘common-sense’ mental-health guide

Helping small firms manage their employees’ mental health and well-being in the workplace is the focus of new guidance from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and mental-health charity, Mind.

The FSB has teamed up with Mind to adapt its existing guide, ‘Taking care of business’, providing common-sense advice to help small-business owners cut through regulatory red tape and offer practical support to their staff.

Conditions such as anxiety, depression and unmanageable stress affect one in six British workers each year, according to the FSB, but if firms take some simple steps they can help manage mental-health issues in the workplace and save themselves money in the long run.

The FSB believes small businesses are ideally placed to judge the actions they should take in this area, as they are, by their very nature, flexible in their working arrangements. Research by the group suggests that 47 per cent of small firms have staff who work part-time, 29 per cent have staff who work flexible hours, and 27 per cent have staff who work from home. Of a further two-thirds of small businesses that offered flexible working, only 4 per cent restricted this to parents with small children.

The guidance includes recommendations, such as:

  • talking to the employee to see what adjustments they might need to their working environment;
  • promoting a supportive working environment, with regular catch-ups or peer support;
  • considering, where suitable, an informal mentoring scheme to help members of staff understand the business faster and support them in their role; and
  • introducing flexible-working arrangements and involving the employee in the planning of their workload.

Commenting on the guidance, FSB national chairman, John Walker, said: “Small businesses have to abide by an array of rules and regulations, but they are best placed to choose what their staff and business needs. Small businesses have good relationships with their staff, but this guide suggests ways to help increase productivity and performance of their employees while saving the business money. Many small businesses will already be doing these.”

Sophie Corlett, director of external relations at Mind, added: “Plenty of small businesses are already half way there by providing their staff with good-quality working relationships and options for flexible working. The next step is for employers to acknowledge mental-health issues, create an open culture where employees can raise problems, and extend existing practices to help staff stay mentally healthy. In many cases, this is already happening.”

To view a copy of the guidance, ‘Taking care of business’, go to

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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