Tips for the year ahead

2020 has been a tough year for all of us but it has been especially difficult year for entrepreneurs and owner-managers. While 2021 already looks brighter with plans in place for the roll out of a vaccine, the end of the transition period and the management of a new trading relationship with the UK will bring obstacles and challenges for smaller firms. Therefore, now is the time to take some time to ensure that your business can trade during difficulty times and that you and your employees health and wellbeing is being cared for.  


Financially Ready 

SFA recommend small business-owners review their financial position before the of the year. Whether it be cash and working capital to deal with this year’s crisis or capital funding to adapt to the challenges posed by Brexit now is the time to get facilities in place.


Members are advised to consult with their banks, SBCI or MFI. State backed Covid and Brexit supports will remain open well in to 2021 to provide funding to entrepreneurs at this time.   


Corporate Restructuring 

Our partners in PKF O'Connor, Leddy & Holmes have kindly shared with us their webinar ‘Corporate Restructuring and Debt Resolution for Troubled Companies’. This looks at the pitfalls of trading in difficult times, compromises with creditors and landlords, avoiding personal sanctions for corporate failure and life after liquidation. The webinar can be accessed here using the password 4MN=Zau1. 


Employee Health and Wellbeing 

Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, the employer has a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practical, the health, safety, and welfare of all employees mental and physical wellbeing at work.  


An employer can look after and promote awareness of employee’s mental health and wellbeing by facilitating programmes and providing them with supports and information. 

  • Share accurate and timely information

Anxiety is a natural reaction to unnatural circumstances and an uncertain future. Research shows that employees are worried that employers will bring them back to work before it is safe. It is, therefore,imperative that employers try to combat anxiety by providing them with as much information as possible about the business’s strategic plan. This can include new operational protocols such as health screening and sanitation procedures for those who are returning to the workplace.


Consistent communication from management is key to managing employee anxiety. Open, two-way communication is especially critical as employers take actions to deal with both the post-Brexit trading relationship with the UK and the pandemic’s impact. Companies that have kept employees well-informed of their business performance and have engaged in ongoing dialogue with employees will be better prepared for difficult conversations.  

  • Provide Supports 

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) is a confidential counselling programme, which operates primarily within the workplace to assist and identify employee concerns. While this is not always feasible for small firms due to fewer resources, support can be sought externally through Outsourced Support Services. 

  • Turn to Me provides professional support in a safe community, delivered by fully qualified and accredited mental health professional. This support is delivered in a confidential and anonymous medium. This programme is increasingly sought by employers, as Mental Health and Wellbeing is an intrinsic part of our social, emotional, and physical functioning.  
  • WorkPositive Tool is a confidential free online tool developed by the HSA that allows businesses to explore ways to improve employee wellbeing. It helps identify and measure psychosocial risks and workplace stressors.  
  • Train managers on how to support employees

Managers will bear much of the responsibility for ensuring employees have a safe and positive physical and mental health as stated in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. Managers should ensure that they familiarise themselves with the warning signs of emotional distress, spend more time checking in with staff, help team members understand what they can and cannot control, and learn how to resolve immediate issues which can mitigate long term problems.


Employers’ efforts to address employee anxiety can lead to a more positive work environment for all.  


Employers’ attention or negligence to all aspects of their employees’ well-being over the next number of months could have reputational consequences for many years to come. 


As employers your health and wellbeing is also important, visit the Government’s newly launched Keep Well campaign for more information on looking after your mental health and wellbeing.  


Visit our SFA website for information and advice on managing employee’s mental health and if you have any queries in relation to employee’s wellbeing you can contact Emma Crowley on 01 6051668 or 

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In this issue
SFA Fortnightly Update
SFA in the media
Annual Leave Christmas Calculations
Input Needed: SFA Sentiment Survey
SFA National Small Business Awards Finalists Announced
Practical help for planning customs post Brexit
Tips for the year ahead
SFA Annual General Meeting
2021 Economic Forecast with AIB
Save the Date: Business Connect 2021
Brexit Webinars