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Thriving SMEs are built by thriving people

The real cost to company for SME owners who ensure the well-being of their teams

by Tia

The challenges that SMEs face in South Africa may be even greater than elsewhere, according to Lula CMO Tom Stuart. From infrastructure to the economic climate, SME owners carry extra burdens when it comes to ensuring that their businesses not only work but thrive.

Central to any SME is its people, but more importantly, an SME that cultivates a working environment that supports its staff means that long-term success of the enterprise is considerably more likely. Creating a culture of well-being in the workplace is no longer just a trend reserved for technology companies with sleep pods, but is a key principle that SME owners need to implement if their businesses are to survive.

Ensuring the well-being of yourself as an owner and your staff is different for every SME. It may be that hybrid working models suit your team perfectly if you design webpages, but if you construct houses, remote work is not feasible.

Support can take the form of financial, physical health, mental health and work-life balance benefits. Some companies offer financial advice services, or gym discounts. Others offer life-coaching services, or sabbaticals. Others offer menstrual leave or on-site childcare. Some companies invest in building healthy relationships between staff members who by the nature of the business are required to work closely together in environments where conflict is a given.

“Whatever the support offered, it needs to be tailored to the expectations placed on the team at work as well as their personal needs. In addition, it needs to be within the financial capacity of the business,” says Stuart.

The financial cost of ensuring a culture of well-being can seem daunting to an SME owner. Quality support does not come for free and the return on investment may not be immediately measurable.

A team member who spends an hour with a psychologist does not have that hour to spend engaged in billable work. However, the cost of not providing support, in whichever form, may end up costing an SME more in revenue if its employees are too stressed out, burnt out and ill to be at work in the first place. Research repeatedly demonstrates that employees who thrive are able to produce their best work.

Lula understands the need for healthy working environments.

According to Stuart, “… the way we do business in Africa remains rooted in African values, and cultural traditions, prioritising community, and mutual growth – and not just ‘profits above all’…”.

Ensuring that the capital is available to provide support to employees means that SMEs have a real chance of creating the kinds of thriving businesses that ensure a better life for their teams and ensure forward movement of the economy of South Africa.

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