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How SMEs can afford staff wellbeing plan investment

The mental health of small business owners and employees is back in the news. Companies are doing more to help staff, but it is clear that further investment in wellbeing safeguarding is required. The question is, how can these firms afford it?

According to a new study of small business owners by Simply Business, to mark World Mental Health Day earlier this month, almost half of respondents said that they are worried about their mental health. COVID-19 has been a major cause of this poor mental health, with the pandemic causing widespread depression, stress and anxiety.

While awareness of the need to plan for employee mental health is growing – a survey by WorkLife showed that one in five senior professionals are concerned about helping employees manage the impact on long-term mental health caused by the pandemic – there is still gap to fill both in terms of wellbeing service knowledge and provision.

A new study from iwoca has found that less than a third of small business owners experiencing poor mental health have sought professional help. Notably, a lack of information about services was the largest barrier to seeking help, while being uncomfortable talking about such issues was another key factor.

Staff mental health awareness rising but more investment needed

Looking at the results of these new studies, while workplace mental health is being talked about more and wellbeing is increasingly being integrated into workplace planning – for example, business leaders can now talk to trained mental health professionals via video – it is clear that more investment is required in workplace wellbeing.

However, one of the main challenges small businesses face in providing wellbeing services is cost. The headwinds are mounting for these firms, not least as the country battles fuel and energy crises, and small business sector steels itself for higher taxes in the new year.

So, how can small businesses invest in mental health care and safeguard cashflow at a time when they are battling to recover and regrow in the post-lockdown marketplace? Alternative finance can help.

Employee wellbeing tools and how alternative lenders can help

With regard to alternative finance, in the wake of prolonged caution from traditional lenders, which is an issue that has returned during the pandemic, services such as invoice finance, asset finance and peer-to-peer lending, are proving a vital source of capital for small businesses, both for maintaining cashflow and for essential investment.

These facilities, which offer a more easily accessible and personalised approach to lending, are helping small businesses survive and target recovery and regrowth.

Furthermore, alternative lending is playing a prominent role in the government’s headline emergency support scheme, the Recovery Loan Scheme (open until the end of 2021). Invoice finance and asset finance between £1,000 and £10 million per business are available under the initiative. This profile is helping cement the reputation of alternative finance in the business sector.

Investing in staff mental health and SME finance options

It should come as no surprise that workplace mental health is back in the news – the stresses and strains of the last 18 months have been extraordinary. This makes it all the more important for firms to have wellbeing strategies and tools. To afford this investment, it is vital that small business owners are aware of all the finance options available to them, including alternative finance.

To find out more about A&T Business Associates services, contact Tony Hedger on 01903 602211 or tony.hedger@atbusinessassociates.co.uk.

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