It’s essential for start-ups to kick start their wellbeing, here’s why

From your wellbeing to the health and happiness of employees, the FSB's Dave Stallon outlines why wellbeing matters and easy strategies to adopt

Why start-ups need to embrace wellbeing

Starting and developing a new business is an exciting time.

Yet it’s also a time when your own wellbeing may take a back seat as you focus on getting the business off the ground, or scaling-up.

It’s vital to recognise the role that looking after your wellbeing – and that of any employees – can play in productivity as well as your health.

As we know, starting a business and running it can be immensely rewarding and creative but it can also be hard, stressful and risky.

There has been a marked increase in the number of business owners and self-employed struggling with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. A recent NHS report revealed that one in three “sick notes” from GPs are for mental health problems.

Better mental health support could save UK businesses up to £8bn a year and it’s estimated that one in four people experience mental health problems in any year. Mental health related cases presented by small business owners and the self-employed to FSB Care, the medical and health advice service available to FSB’s members, have doubled over the last 10 years.

More broadly, there has been an increase in the number of mental health conditions across the UK’s workforce and research shows that he annual bill for sickness absence currently sits at £29bn

Small business owners and the self-employed tend to try to struggle on through illness which can often exacerbate a condition, causing long-term problems. They can also suffer with the stress and responsibility of running the business which cannot operate without them.

Being a small business owner can often be lonely – with no-one to share the responsibility or to talk to about worries or concerns. This can escalate into mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Commitment to wellbeing in small businesses has been stepped up as a new Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) campaign, supported by Public Health England and Mind, amongst other organisations, is raising awareness of workplace wellbeing among the UK’s 5.5 million-strong small business community.

The importance of wellbeing and mental health continues to be recognised more and more by public policymakers, health care professionals and the private sector.

Many of the FSB’s small business members make a conscious effort to look after the wellbeing of themselves and their employees in various ways; from offering flexible working arrangements or knowledge sharing clubs, allowing pets at work, to having plants in the working environment and encouraging and partaking in ‘walking meetings’ and regular aerobic exercise.

There are so many adaptable strategies that can enhance wellbeing and FSB wants to encourage conversation about this…

Six steps for start-ups to improve wellbeing, as suggested in the FSB Wellbeing in Small Business guide:

  1. Let’s talk about it

Speak to someone about your worries or concerns and don’t be afraid to talk them through.

If you have access to a professional nurse adviser service, utilise it. (FSB Care also gives you a dedicated nurse adviser and is completely confidential.)

  1. Going it alone doesn’t have to mean being alone

Avoid isolation and share experiences and ideas – it could even bring leads too!

Join an established network that offers both face-to-face and virtual networking, such as FSB Connect – the UK’s biggest, which is free to join.

  1. Exercise: healthy body, healthy mind

Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling or jogging boosts endorphins that help you feel happier and calmer. Fitness is always more fun when you have other people to join you.

Think about starting a work running or walking group or a morning yoga class.

  1. Physical environment matters

The design of your workplace can have a huge effect on wellbeing. 85% of people in England agree that the quality of the built environment influences the way they feel.

Improved air quality and ventilation increases productivity by up to 11%, so try bringing some extra plants into your work space.

  1. Walk and talk

Walking and talking doesn’t just belong in US TV show The West Wing! Research from the Get Britain Standing campaign highlights that we sit for an average of 8.9 hours a day.

Sitting for longer than four hours a day can lead to stiffness, back pain, muscular issues and can increase blood sugar levels, so try scheduling walking meetings.

Inspired to kick start wellbeing in your start-up? Join the conversation #FSBwellbeing or check out