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Impact of Covid-19 on staff mental health and well-being in SMEs: strategies and interventions to support workforce and boost productivity in the UK

Covid-19 pandemic has led governments globally to respond with unprecedented lockdown and economic measures to combat spread of the disease, and support workers and businesses. The pandemic presents a real threat to small and medium sized enterprises’ (SMEs’) workforce mental health (MH) and well-being, and employers need to pursue serious plans to support their workforce (16m) in the UK. There is limited evidence in this regard and research is needed from a multi-disciplinary perspective on best strategies, interventions and policies informing SMEs (99.9% of UK businesses) regarding how to support the staff and enhance their productivity.

The main objectives of this project are to: (1) Develop a conceptual model that will facilitate analysing the relationship between MH issues faced by SMEs’ staff, factors and various job dimensions contributing to these issues, and its impact on both the staff and business productivity during the pandemic, through a multi-stage survey with 1200 SMEs’ employees in the UK; (2) Develop a Covid-19 employee well-being framework comprising of strategies, practices and interventions, considering SMEs' needs and constraints, and conduct a longitudinal study for six months with twenty SMEs to evaluate its effectiveness and impact towards increasing the resilience and productivity of SMEs’ workforce in varying work contexts during and after the pandemic; (3) Develop a Covid-19 MH application to monitor the MH conditions of SMEs’ workforce and pilot it with the longitudinal study, to show how the data collected through the app will enable each individual SME to understand its staff needs, introspect their well-being, that will facilitate customizing the framework, i.e. objectively putting in place practices, strategies and interventions to address employee MH, well-being and firm’s productivity related issues.

Lead investigator:

Prasanta Kumar Dey


Aston University

Primary topic:

Health, physical & mental

Secondary topic:

Jobs, work, pay & benefits

Region of data collection:


Country of data collection


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:


Unit of real-time data collection



Periodic (other)