Aviva Foundation partners with 87% to offer free mental health support to SMEs

SMEs across the country can get free access to an industry-leading mental health support platform, thanks to funding by the Aviva Foundation.

87%, the mental wellbeing ecosystem, has secured £50,000 of funding from the Aviva Foundation to improve the organisational health of businesses that are typically unable to access such support. SMEs account for 50% of the total revenue generated by UK businesses and 44% of the country’s labour force, yet they rarely have the resources to empower their employees to understand and develop mental wellbeing in a way that helps them prevent mental health issues.

COVID-19 has compounded this issue, severely affecting the performance of the SME sector. Small businesses are under tremendous pressure to retain and motivate staff whilst trying desperately to remain solvent, and 64% agree the pandemic has increased the demand for holistic health benefits and support.

Concerningly, 87%’s work with SMEs has revealed that almost a third (29%) of staff believe their employer has not adapted well to the pandemic. Poor mental health was becoming an issue for employees prior to the pandemic, with around 42% of sickness absence attributable to stress or mental health-related issues, and COVID has accentuated this.  Sudden remote-working requirements, increased isolation, decreased motivation, and reduced pay and furloughed work arrangements have negatively impacted the productivity and health of UK business.

87% data shows that almost half of people have less energy than usual, as a result of working from home and 42% wish they had more emotional support in their life. Self-confidence, team morale, and staff motivation and perseverance have all declined.

The programme, ‘Building the Resilience of SMEs’, aims to avert a mental health crisis, by providing 10,000 staff with free access to mental wellbeing advice and support and 2,500 manager training courses across this challenged sector. 87%’s comprehensive solution allows businesses to conduct a proper assessment of organisational health, via a series of evidence-based measurements. This data provides the necessary insights to implement wellbeing strategies that address the needs of staff, and introduce bespoke mental health awareness training, accessibly delivered by webinar or eLearning platform.

Dr Serra Pitts, Clinical Director of 87% says, “SMEs are the backbone of the British economy but the data is compelling; the sector is suffering. 87% is committed to its social purpose of enhancing wellbeing especially for businesses who cannot necessarily afford the investment into their organisational health.

“We are seeking to train individuals to recognise their own state of mental wellbeing, through measurement and monitoring, and provide them with personalised tools which help them develop healthy habits, thus improving confidence and resilience. Furthermore, managers play a crucial role in the wellbeing of their teams and with the right training in how to build a culture of wellness and strength, they can prevent small issues in staff from becoming irreversible problems. Increasing resilience in this sector, even if by just a few percentage points, would have a material beneficial impact on both productivity and societal wellbeing.”

Kirstine Cooper, Aviva Foundation Management Board Chair and Aviva’s Group General Counsel and Company Secretary, adds, “Supporting mental health in the workplace is one of the most pressing issues for employers, large and small. The Aviva Foundation is partnering with 87% to help give small-medium sized enterprises the resources they need to support their people. We know from our own Aviva colleagues how important advice, support and manager mental health training is, so it is excellent this can be extended to those who work in smaller businesses.”

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