- New analysis from Simply Business and Mental Health at Work has revealed that three quarters (73%) of SME owners take fewer than 20 days of annual leave per year
- With a cluster of bank holidays falling in May, many feel that taking time off is not an option, and are on the brink of burnout
- One in three SME owners work over 46 hours per week – 10 hours more than the average working hours clocked up in the UK
- Many small business owners believe that less time off impacts mental health, but feel they must choose between the success of their business and their mental health
- Over half of SME owners (56%) say they have experienced poor mental health over the past 12 months – an 124% increase compared with the national average*.
- Simply Business has partnered with Mental Health at Work, a programme curated by leading mental health charity Mind, to highlight the mental health challenges facing the SME community
25th May 2023, London: New analysis from business insurer Simply Business and Mental Health at Work has uncovered a distinct problem within the small business community that is wreaking havoc on their mental wellbeing. With a cluster of bank holidays falling in May, many feel that taking time off is not an option, and they must choose between the success of their business and the preservation of their mental health.
A survey of over 700 small business owners found that 73% of SME owners take fewer than 20 days off every year, well below the UK statutory annual leave entitlement of 28 days.They’re also working over 46 hours a week on average – 10 hours more than the average working hours clocked up by workers in the UK (36.4 hours according to ONS data).
Despite the need for a break, many small business owners feel that time off simply isn’t possible. Research from Business Advice found that SMEs could stand to lose as much as £2,163 over the course of a year if they opted to shut over the bank holiday periods – that’s almost as much as the median monthly wage in the UK.**
With almost one in six (15%) believing a lack of time off is directly impacting their mental health, nine in 10 (90%) said that they believe the government is not currently doing enough to support the mental health of the self-employed. Small business owners are unable to claim the same rights as employees when it comes to statutory sick pay and holiday entitlement.
Eglel Gomaa, owner of Girasole Taste of Italy Restaurant in Seven Sisters, London said “A psychologist who works up the road from my restaurant told me that their clients come for coffee at Girasole because they see it as an oasis. I am so happy to hear that – but there is no one to offer support to me.
“I always put my customers and my team before myself, and that often means that I do not take time off. Bank holidays, though they are great for the restaurant, definitely equate to me having no time off.
“I put my hands up to anyone who starts their own business – it’s no mean feat. I will not be renewing my lease this year because I have faced such hardship, both financially and mentally. After almost 9 years in business, I will be sad to say goodbye to my beautiful restaurant, my fabulous team and my lovely customers.”
Simply Business has partnered with Mental Health at Work, a programme curated by leading mental health charity Mind, and has donated £100,000 to support the mental health of the UK’s self-employed. Alongside a breadth of resources for SME owners, creating alongside Mental Health at Work, Simply Business is also giving one small business owner the chance to win a £2,000 wellbeing package – including holiday vouchers, access to a virtual assistant, and financial and business coaching.
Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business, commented: “The worrying state of small business owners’ mental health has been laid bare in our recent research – with over half suffering from poor mental health in the last 12 months alone. During a cost of living crisis, the self-employed are working at capacity. Long hours, rare breaks and sleepless nights are leaving many on the brink of burnout.
“And the situation should concern us all. Small businesses are vital to both our economic recovery and the prosperity of our communities, and this will only compound the challenges of an increasingly economically inactive population.
“It’s critical that the real people behind the country’s SMEs are given the support they need. That’s why we’ve partnered with Mental Health at Work to raise awareness of the challenges facing this audience, and create tailored resources designed to help.”
Andrew Berrie, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, commented: “We know that small businesses and the self-employed are often overlooked when it comes to public workplace mental health initiatives. These communities face unique challenges, and the events of recent years have only made it more difficult for these small organisations and business owners to prioritise wellbeing at work.
“Results from our survey in partnership with Simply Business shine a light on how crucial it is that we act, right now, to support these groups. The results expose a mental health crisis, with over half of respondents struggling with poor mental health in the last year, many experiencing insomnia, working long hours, and very rarely taking breaks – it’s a recipe for burnout.
“Simply Business and Mental Health at Work are working together to make a real difference in addressing this issue. Together, we’re providing accessible, bespoke support for small business owners and the self-employed, to enable them to make positive changes to their mental health.”
A range of tailored resources are also available at Mental Health at Work here: https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/support-for-small-businesses-in-partnership-with-simply-business/
Sam Allcock is the CEO of PR FIRE – PR & Content Marketing Platform
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