Representative, manager or owner of an SME
These pages are for people that work in or for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These are defined as organisations that employ between 5 and 250 people.
Those in authority are essential for promoting health and well-being within the company. If they support positive beliefs and attitudes it sets the tone and culture of the organisation, especially when sensitive issues like stress and mental health are discussed.
Research has shown that the management standards approach is equally as applicable to such SMEs and that the elements of the Indicator and Analysis Tools, in particular offered the ‘time poor’ SME manager a quick and easy method for identifying problems.
During the research the majority of SME managers reported that conducting the process of risk assessment provided business benefits that outweighed the costs of implementation. Some SMEs were able to pinpoint stress-related problems and identify a mechanism for discussing them. In other cases, where the participants had thought the company was free from problems, issues were identified that may have otherwise remained a source of work-related stress.
- Everyone in the organisation has responsibility for tackling Work related stress, involving unions, staff representatives and employees is critical to raise awareness and improve employee health & well being.
- Employers underestimate the extent to which employees are suffering from stress or other forms of mental illness.
- Most organisations will have some form of stress-related problems, the key is to find out where and what the problems are, and how and why they happen. The Management Standards help you decide how to make changes and is a way to measure performance.
- Recognise Work related stress is a legitimate health and safety issue and can be dealt with like any other health and safety risk.
- You may play a critical role in specifying task and job requirements and allocating individual job roles, your actions and behaviour could have an impact on the quality of working life of your team.
- You should play a major role in communication ensuring information goes both ways between senior staff and employees.
Your role in the Management Standards
- Training: Use training to familiarise all managers with the key ideas.
- Policies and procedures: Make sure your organisation has effective policies and procedures. You could include a section about stress and mental health issues in your Health and Safety policy, which is a legal requirement. You also have other legal duties, including the responsibility to carry out risk assessments.
- Listen: Consider any proposals you receive, and think about the business, moral and legal cases for action.
- Business case: looks at the current cost of an issue, such as stress and considers how much it would cost to tackle it and the financial benefits as an outcome.
- Moral case: many organisations now realise that some aspects of work can make people ill, and that things can be done that can them feel better and improve the health of workers.
- Legal case: there is a clear legal requirement to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and to take steps to address any risks that are identified.
- Audit: Work out what is already being done and what else needs to be done to meet your requirements as a duty holder.
- Commit: Your commitment is vital for the success of the process. Be willing to commit sufficient resources to run the project and to put in place solutions.
- Communicate your vision: Tell your employees what you would like to see happening, and keep telling them throughout the project
- Support: Support those people in the organisation who manage the project day-to-day.
- Encourage: Encourage employees to take part so that they feel that their ideas and suggestions have value
- Monitor: Check on progress by getting regular feedback from the project manager and staff.
Your role with individuals
- Update: Make sure that you have up-to-date systems and policies for dealing with individual concerns, work with your human resource and occupational health advisers if you have them
- Recognise that the behaviour of senior staff has an impact on staff
- Be positive: Show a positive and helpful attitude towards stress and mental health issues at individual levels.
Find out more
Resources for SMEs
Whilst these tools are not all specific to SMEs they are designed for use by any organisation of any size, including SMEs.
- Management Competency Tool – a tool that allows any direct manager to assess their own performance against a set of competencies identified as necessary to be able to deal with stress and be assured that their behaviour is not making the situation worse.
- The HSE Management Standards Indicator Tool pack - HSE has designed a survey tool, (HSE Management Standards Indicator Tool) which is a questionnaire asking about 'working conditions' which potentially cause work related stress.
- The survey responses can then be transferred to an analysis tool, (HSE Management Standards Analysis Tool [XLS 4MB]) which works out the average score for the organisation against each of the six Management Standards. This can be done to show the results of all the replies or you can identify and get results for particular sub-groups.
- There is also manual (HSE Management Standards Indicator Tool manual [PDF, 66KB]) that can help you produce a customised 'pick and mix' approach.
- Inspection Pack - details the kinds of things an Inspector will consider during an inspection of your premises.
- “Securing management commitment” - This leaflet gives a more in depth explanation of why an organisation should undertake risk assessments and the benefits of using the Managing Standards to meet your responsibilities as duty holders.
Occupational health for SMEs
- Fit for Work Fit for Work offers free, confidential and impartial work-related health advice to GPs, employers and employees with the aim of helping employed people who are off sick for four weeks or more to return to work.
- Healthy Working Lives The free Health for Work Adviceline in Scotland - helps you to quickly and effectively address the issue of employee health, minimise the impact of staff illness, and provide essential support to staff with physical or mental health issues
- Healthy Working Wales The free Health for Work Adviceline for Small Business in Wales - helps you to quickly and effectively address the issue of employee health, minimise the impact of staff illness, and provide essential support to staff with physical or mental health.