An evaluation of workplace health and wellbeing support in Walsall small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)

Evaluation completed June 2023

What does the research mean for Local Authorities?

Walsall Council wishes to ensure that it is effectively supporting the workplace health and wellbeing of SMEs and their staff.  The knowledge produced will provide an understanding of how to effectively encourage and facilitate SMEs’ engagement with workplace health and wellbeing support, and an indication of whether and how that support is meeting the needs of the local workforce.  Beyond the Walsall locality, and local authorities nationwide will benefit from the knowledge produced.

What does the evaluation research mean for the Public?

This research will include the voices of employees, learning about their experiences of workplace health and wellbeing support whilst working in an SME. Findings from this work will contribute to awareness-raising about employee workplace health and wellbeing needs, and the extent to which these needs are being met.

Workplace health and wellbeing has significant consequences for individuals’ work and non-work lives, and Walsall Council’s workplace wellbeing interventions fit within its broader range of initiatives to address the public health issues experienced by Walsall residents. The findings will have relevance beyond SME and their employees.

How are the public involved in the evaluation?

We will aim to consult employees from small and medium sized enterprises in this evaluation, along with our PHIRST Public involvement in Research group (PIRg). They will be involved throughout the design of this project, providing insight to help researchers answer the questions that are important to them. They will also help to interpret the findings of the evaluation and reach decisions about how best to share the outputs created.

Lay summary of research

Walsall Council has commissioned a Healthy Workplace Programme (WHP) to support the improvement of health and wellbeing in Walsall. The WHP focuses its support at small and medium sized organisations, known as SMEs.  Men, people in low paid work, and individuals who are employed in routine and manual work, are the key groups whose health and wellbeing the WHP aims to improve. The workplace health team uses needs assessment, alongside discussions with the business, to complete a health development plan for each individual business that highlights priorities and appropriate support. 

The overall aims of the evaluation include:

  1. To look at the ways small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are involved with health and wellbeing services/ support, including that help and hinder their involvement. 
  2. To look at SME employee’s views and experiences of health and wellbeing support services offered by their employer. 

The study will aim to use different methods to capture the information needed to answer the research questions above. This will include both qualitative (words) and quantitative (numbers) methods. The methods are broken down into five workstreams (WS): 

  • WS1 – Focus group discussions with Walsall stakeholders, to talk about the strategies used to involve SMEs in workplace health and wellbeing support, and possible barriers to involvement. These stakeholders include individuals from several different teams who support health and wellbeing for businesses within Walsall. 
  • WS2 – A survey of Walsall based SMEs with between 10 and 249 employees. This method will collect data on employers’ awareness of health and wellbeing support; employers’ levels of engagement with health and wellbeing support services; employers’ health and wellbeing support needs; and how well the wellbeing services/support on offer meet the needs of employers. 
  • WS3 – Focus group discussions with employers from Walsall SMEs.  Focus groups will explore things like barriers to SMEs’ involvement with workplace health and wellbeing support; employees’ health and wellbeing needs; how/whether employees’ needs have been assessed; any gaps in workplace health and wellbeing support; and factors that might help SMEs become more involved in available support. 
  • WS4 – Focus group discussions with employees working within Walsall based SMEs. Topics will cover things like employee’s views of the workplace health and wellbeing services available through their workplace, and if their health and wellbeing needs are being met. 
  • WS5 – Analysis of the data, bringing together the findings and producing outputs for a range of stakeholders. 

An evaluation of workplace health and wellbeing support in Walsall small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (PHIRST Connect) - NIHR Funding and Awards

Local Authority/ Partner(s)

Walsall Council


PHIRST Connect Research Team

Nigel Lloyd, Imogen Freethy, Professor Julia Jones, Nigel Smeeton, Adam Wagner, Professor Wendy Wills, Professor Katherine Brown

*All PHIRST Connect members input into every project