Employer Duties for Welfare at Work: What Small Businesses Can Do to Improve Welfare

Post-it notes saying 'employee wellbeing', 'emotional', 'physical', 'social', 'financial'An employer’s duty of care extends beyond the protection of staff health and safety and the prevention of accidents and injuries – employee welfare is also a fundamental element of employee wellbeing.

Identifying and addressing factors that affect employee wellbeing, and taking a proactive approach to improve these is something that all businesses should strive for, regardless of size.

However, as an SME ourselves, we know that this can be a little harder for small businesses who may not have the existing infrastructure to do this. So what do you need to know?

Why is welfare important in the workplace?

Studies show that a workplace that looks after its employees has higher levels of productivity and lower turnover rates. This is so important to small businesses in particular who may not be able to compete with corporate salaries and have to instead rely on creating a positive working environment.

What are employers’ responsibilities for welfare?

employees in a break roomLegally speaking, employers have to provide:

  • Clean and well stocked toilets for employees.
  • Clean hand washing facilities with hot water, cold water, soap, and a way to dry hands.
  • Well lit and ventilated rooms to work in.
  • Sanitary disposal.
  • Drinking water.
  • A clean break area.

This is quite a short list. Doing all of the above will cross off your legal requirements, but will not necessarily make for a positive working environment; it just provides a foundation!

How can you improve staff welfare and wellbeing?

Infographic showing the 6 ways to create a positive working environment as described in the text So what can you do to create a positive working environment? Here are some suggestions for small businesses, who as we know have more time and resource pressures:

  1. Talk to your employees! – Find out what employees like or don’t like. Compile a list and find those easy wins. Make small regular changes and tell your team when you make them. It highlights your productivity and shows your team you care!
  2. Manage stress in the workplace – Identify stress points and provide training to your workers on how to manage their stress. Ensure everyone takes their proper breaks and books in their holiday. A stressed worker is more likely to burn out and quit; so a little check in can help them mentally and work wonders for your bottom line. Also having a dedicated Mental Health First-Aider, or employee advocate can help workers to open up about their issues.
  3. Ensure a safe working environment – Comfortable workers are happy workers, and nothing spoils this more than feeling unsafe. This can be as simple as keeping your pathways clear of trip hazards, running your fire drills, and making sure that if someone notices an issue, they can raise it AND get it sorted in reasonable time.
  4. Work life balance – Don’t forget your workforce are made up of people with personal lives, and while we should all try to keep home at home, some things will always come through. As above, ensure everyone takes their owed time off. If you notice someone working excessively long hours, make sure to check in with them as they may be having issues at work or at home.
  5. Employee benefits – Doesn’t have to be big bonuses or unlimited holidays! They can be as simple as ice cream on hot days, thank-you lunches, and a day off on your birthday. Little acts of kindness that fit into a small business budget that show your employees you appreciate their hard work. When someone feels appreciated they are more likely to put effort into their work.
  6. Ensure good team communication – Bad communication is often the root of a problem. Make sure to have and follow clear policies on lines of communication. Make sure everyone knows who they should take instruction from or give instruction to. Ensure everyone knows who to raise issues with and have the tools to do so. And if you are a manager, make sure to check in on your people regularly both professionally and personally.

If you manage to put all of these actions in place, you should make good progress towards a good working environment, happy workers, and a productive workforce!

How can WA Management help?

WA Management offer online training for management level positions, such as Managing Mental Health, along with a number of wellbeing courses that you can offer your staff – including Mental Health Awareness, Mindfulness, Stress Awareness, and more.

Click here to view our full range of wellbeing courses.

Managing Health and SafetyMental Health Awareness & Stress Awareness training courses are essential tools in protecting and improving employee welfare. Make sure you don’t miss out on our 10% off deal on these courses, available until the end of May. Simply enter the code ‘welfare10’ at checkout to save!

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