Implementing wellbeing initiatives can often seem like a daunting task for a smaller sized business. However as we’ve seen with other recent examples, many SMEs are excelling with their wellbeing offering, and providing support for employees which doesn’t break the bank.

Label Apeel is a small, family-run UK business based in Leicester with only 47 employees. It specialises in printing bespoke labels for consumer goods like gins, spirits and wines. The brand prides itself on being innovative and different: ‘We refuse to toe the line, and have developed a reputation for creating labelling solutions that really work; both technically and visually’ it states on its website.

Back in 2012, Label Apeel was in a spot of bother with poor sales, a turnover of 23%, and high rates of absenteeism and staff stress. This was when its employee wellbeing focus began with the launch of an employee health and wellbeing programme.. A major focus of the programme was around employee mental health. This included training managers on how to manage stress and mental health at work, and support for anyone dealing with mental health issues. 

The second focus was on physical health, which included offering free fruit to encourage healthy eating, and smoking cessation support and e-cigarettes to those who wanted it. This was supplemented with information on healthy eating, physical activity and stress on staff notice boards and common areas. 

Staff also set up a weekly weight loss group, boxing training, six are even challenged themselves with a 40 mile charity walk and family fun days with sports elements were introduced to show that everyone can keep fit whilst spending quality time with the family. And as you can see from the above image, the company boasts a trophy winning football team! 

‘Initiatives such as gym membership and family fun days add to the sense of team and belonging that a lot of our employees have. I feel that if you have an engaged workforce then the extra bits and pieces, if well thought out and relevant to them, help to shore up that feeling of engagement and make employees feel valued.’ Claire Gibbons, Business Support Manager. 


What were the results?

Overall, the programme achieved a 1:15 return on investment, saving approximately £40,000 and was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Health and Wellbeing category at the HR Excellence Awards. In comparison to 2012, in 2013 the business experienced a 62% reduction in staff turnover and a 17% reduction in absenteeism. 

Measures of staff life satisfaction and happiness also increased while anxiety levels decreased. Operating profit jumped by 31%, influenced by staff becoming happier and more engaged in their work. Stuart Kellock, CEO, commented: ‘Everyone is happy, less stressed, that bit fitter and healthier, which helps us keep those labels firing off the press. We have found the programme very easy to use and there has been little impact in terms of management time.’

However we’ll allow Claire to deliver the final words on how smaller businesses can achieve great things, cost effectively, with wellbeing initiatives: 

‘We feel passionate about advocating the benefits of a health and wellbeing programme within SMEs. A lot of large organisations have great health and wellbeing initiatives but many SME owners think it’s only for the big guys. We wanted to show them that it can be done and the impact is huge.’ 

For other examples of SME wellbeing success, take a look at our pieces on Pure Planet and Austin Fraser