UK small-business owners struggling with pandemic mental health hangover
A new study by Xero and the Centre for Economics and Business Research has highlighted the emotional impact of COVID on business owners.
The study found that two out of five (40 per cent) small-business owners believe that their emotional recovery from the pandemic will take much longer than that of the financial disruption. And, according to the study those investing in wellbeing initiatives were more likely to hold on to staff and grow revenues.
Nine out of 10 (92 per cent) small-business owners experienced symptoms of poor mental health over the last two years, according to the study done in conjunction with the CEBR and Opinium. Professional responsibilities played a significant part, with more than half (52 per cent) said that running their business has contributed to those symptoms.
The pandemic was the greatest cause of poor mental health, for over a third (37 per cent) of respondents, but issues such as cash flow (24 per cent) and the cost of living (24 per cent) also had an emotional impact.
The increasing pressure of the pandemic made it difficult for small-business owners to prioritise their own wellbeing. Three out of four (75 per cent) didn’t take a single sick day or didn’t feel they had the option to, with those that did taking an average of just one day each. Of those who suffered poor mental health, only one in five (21 per cent) took any leave.
Despite limited time for wellbeing, only half of business owners (55 per cent) know where to turn for mental health support. And while the government provided financial assistance, only 15 per cent believe they were doing enough to help them with their mental health and wellbeing.
The stressful trading environment facing small-business owners has also made it difficult for them to prioritise the mental health of their employees, the studies found.
They revealed that just half (53 per cent) of respondents implemented mental health initiatives for their staff during the pandemic. The average total investment in mental health initiatives by small firms during the last two years was just £939, with one in five (21 per cent) spending less than £100.
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