Small businesses are the driver of New Zealand’s economy, responsible for 28 percent of NZ’s GDP and employing more than 630,000 people. But are these employees being looked after? Xero, the global small business platform, is asking Kiwi small business owners to consider their wellbeing approach and policies following new research that shows the significant financial benefits of wellbeing initiatives.
The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) has revealed that for every dollar a small business owner invests in organisational wellbeing initiatives for their staff, they can expect to see a return of up to 12x within a year.
Managing director of Xero NZ and Pacific Islands says when Kiwi small businesses succeed, the whole country succeeds.
“It’s time to check if you are truly looking after your people. Last year, COVID-19 pushed wellbeing to the forefront for all of us and showed us the importance of looking out for one another in the workplace,” says Hudson.
“But we need to make sure we hold on to these benefits as a country. We now know categorically that wellbeing delivers efficiency and productivity gains for businesses. Put simply: If small businesses are ignoring wellbeing, they’re wasting money.”
The return for investing in wellbeing was measured through staff productivity improvements. The economic research analysed two key areas for small businesses to invest in:
- What: Creating a wellbeing culture in the workplace that supports the physical and mental health of staff. (For example, wellbeing education programmes, fostering environments supportive of mental health, and organising specific activities designed to improve staff wellbeing.)
- ROI: NZIER research reveals investment in organisational wellbeing has an average return on investment of 5:1, and up to 12:1.
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP):
- What: Offering staff reactive assistance programmes with professional counselling to help them with their mental wellbeing.
- ROI: NZIER research reveals investment in employee assistance programmes has an average return on investment of 3.6:1, and up to 5:1.
Xero’s small business initiative ‘The Check In’ has five steps for creating a wellbeing-focused workplace, with an estimated return of $8.50 for every dollar invested. Hudson says by fostering a workplace with a focus on wellbeing, we can destigmatise and address employee mental health problems proactively before there becomes a bigger productivity problem.
“Simple things like getting together as a workplace to celebrate success in a more relaxed social environment or having one-on-one conversations with employees about their lives are small steps you can take to shift the culture of your workplace towards being more open and inclusive,” he says.
On average, an employee’s decision making and productivity is negatively impacted by poor mental health for around three months intermittently across a whole year if no one steps in.
“Imagine what this would mean for the economy as a whole if people engaged with these programmes at the start of an episode, rather than waiting to reach a critical point.
“Up to 900,000 Kiwis are already eligible for counselling and support through the Xero Assistance Programme. So many small businesses don’t need to make any additional investments to begin seeing the benefits.”