Workplace Health Promotion in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

2nd Initiative (1999 - 2000)

WHP in SME 2nd initiative


This project shows how good practice has been established and promoted in SMEs and micro-enterprises and gives recommendations on implementation.  16 European countries took part in the initiative.


Identify good practice of WHP in the participating countries
Characterise the national contexts of the 16 countries
Produce recommendations to improve practice
Hold a conference to publicise the project findings


National Correspondents collected information on:

  1. National policies
  2. Models of Good Practice (MOGPs)
  3. Factors that promote or impede WHP in SMEs
  4. A range of other information

 These national reports were examined by an expert team from a number of the countries with a view to identifying strategies to improve practice and identifying the criteria of good practice.

 A conference was held in Lisbon in June 2001 to showcase the MOGPs and the recommendations from the project.

Main Findings:

Statutory approaches to health and safety have proved limited in encouraging preventive activities in SMEs. 

Many legislative provisions are more easily applicable to larger enterprises, but despite these limitations, the project provides useful insights into strategies to promote health and wellbeing in the SME sector. 

Analysis of case studies in larger enterprises has shown that common success factors for WHP include:

Actions should be needs based
All stakeholders should be involved
Successful initiatives target action at both the individual and the working environment
WHP needs to be integrated into management practice

Analysis of successful SME WHP initiatives reveals 4 further principles of approach:

  1. Integrated services should be provided – they rarely have continuous needs and are not in a position to maintain in-house expertise
  2. Make use of existing SME networks – these are trusted by SMEs
  3. Provide easy to use services – time and resources are scarce in SMEs – ease of use is most favoured
  4. Provide reduced costs services – SMEs often don’t have the funds needed to implement WHP from their own resources

The project concluded by making 23 recommendations targeted mostly at EU and national levels agency but also makes some that are targeted at intermediary organisations such as employer’s organisations, trade unions, sectoral organisations and health insurers.



Criteria and Models of good Practice (PDF 0.1 MB)
Description of the good practice criteria



"Report on the current Status of Workplace Health Promotion in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises" (PDF 0.35 MB).


Conclusions and recommendations (PDF 0.6 MB)

Countries taking part:

Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein/Switzerland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.