Employed to Self-Employed: What can we learn about workplace wellbeing?

Six lovely ladies from the Wiltshire Women in Business Group offered to take part in an interview with Bloomfield Harris about their experiences of workplace wellbeing. Please take a look at their work below.

How important is mental health compared to physical health?

All of the women felt that mental health was at least equal to physical health, with half stating it was more important because they are “deeply connected”. The overall consensus was that physical and mental health go hand in hand. “Looking at the person as a whole rather than splitting mind from body, leads to greater wellbeing”.

What factors in your previous employed roles made a positive contribution to your wellbeing?

The women reported that positive relationships were key to the workplace environment. Feeling supported by leadership and colleagues was important. Some of the women also felt that doing work they cared about improved their sense of workplace wellbeing. One employer had a wellness representative which gave another listening ear to employees. The same employer also provided yoga, Pilates, massage and effective occupational health support.

What factors in your current self-employed role make a positive contribution to your wellbeing?

These women unanimously believed that flexibility was the main factor which improved their workplace wellbeing. Being able to control their work and time management enabled them to break up their day with exercise. By becoming self-employed these women prioritised their wellbeing and wanted to “be the best” they could be.

What factors in your previous employed role made a negative contribution to your wellbeing?

Lack of control in the workplace was a significant factor; this included not being able to make decisions about work. Some had experienced unrealistic and unachievable goals “with the resources available”. In addition, the emotional strain of managing a team and not having the training to support employees experiencing poor wellbeing had a negative impact on their own wellbeing.

What factors in your current self-employed role make a negative contribution to your wellbeing?

The most significant factor was having complete “responsibility for everything” which encompassed financial insecurity, marketing and securing clients. Feeling responsible has led to some “working too hard”. Some women reported loneliness as they don’t have colleagues to “bounce ideas off” anymore.

Based on your experiences, what do you think employers could do to improve workplace wellbeing?

Preventative measures included: initiatives to boost wellbeing, motivation and morale. Also clear education and communication from leadership. Valuing employees for their strengths as opposed to fixating on limitations. Coaching for all staff.

Reactive measures included: Access to wellbeing support and counselling, responding to events e.g. passing of an employee by offering bereavement counselling.

Questions to consider:

  • how do you consider employee physical health?
  • have you got any physical policies that may be impacting on your employee’s physical and mental health?
  • do you employ a wellness colleague or mental health first aider?
  • do you offer or subsidise leisure activities?
  • do employees have access to occupational health?
  • are there any ways you can offer flexibility to your employees?
  • are there any ways your employees can manage their work and/or make decisions about their work?
  • does your company have a blame-free culture?
  • do you ask for employee feedback on support or resources they may need to do their job more effectively?
  • are your leaders trained in how to respond to poor wellbeing or mental health?
  • do your employees care about their work and feel invested in the outcomes?
  • do your teams have time to talk and share ideas?
  • to what extent is your appraisal process based on strengths?
  • do you have a wellbeing and mental health policy?

Bloomfield Harris would love to discuss these with you.

We understand that one size does not fit all and are here to help you explore evidence based options to improve your workplace wellbeing.

Call: 07841 528105

Email: jessica@bloomfieldharris.com

A huge thank you to all these self-employed business women. Please take a look at their websites. Prior to being self-employed these women worked in: law firms, military, social services, NHS, as a chef and a training consultant.

Nikki Emerton

NLP master practitioner, hypnotherapist, life coach, lightening process practitioner at

Be U http://www.beu.org.uk

Jane Evans

Life change coach, keynote speaker, media expert and author at Jane Evans Consultancy Ltd http://www.thejaneevans.com

Reshma Field

Personal stylist at Ishbel’s Wardrobe http://www.ishbelswardrobe.co.uk

Dawn Robinson

Coach for midlife women at The Flourishing Midlife http://www.theflourishingmidlife.com

Kellie Simpson

Virtual assistant to legal professionals and small to medium-sized businesses at

Kellie Simpson Virtual Assistant http://www.kelliesimpsonva.co.uk

Samantha Thomas

Personal development coaching inc. mental and physical alignment at Embrace Life UK http://www.facebook.com/EmbraceLifeUK

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