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Small Business Owners Lose Sleep

More than three in four small business owners (76%) say business worries keep them awake at night. Whilst sleepless nights are most prevalent among owners of businesses that in serious decline (96%), the new research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance found that even those predicting growth for their business admit

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BDC 318 : Jul 2024

stress

Small Business Owners Lose Sleep

More than three in four small business owners (76%) say business worries keep them awake at night. Whilst sleepless nights are most prevalent among owners of businesses that in serious decline (96%), the new research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance found that even those predicting growth for their business admit they seldom get a good night’s sleep (84%). The Business Barometer findings come at a time when concerns have risen over the mental health of small business owners across the UK, with reports of anxiety and depression rising at the end of last year. Hitachi Capital’s study reveals that it’s not just businesses that are already struggling that have nightmares, fast growing ones are just as likely to be taking their business worries to bed with them (84%) – they just have different nightmares. For small companies predicting growth over the spring and summer months, red tape (40%), compliance (28%) and dealing with skills gaps in a growing workforce (20%) were their top concerns. For those decision makers expecting their business to decline, the key worries related to market uncertainty (44%) and how to retain business (26%). The Business Barometer survey – which has now run for five years – asked 1,177 small decision makers to share some of the issues that they were currently worrying about and kept them awake at night. The biggest worriers London emerged as potentially the worst place to run a small business in terms of sleepless nights, with almost nine in ten business leaders in the city (87%) saying business worries kept them awake at night. Those in London were most likely to start the working day with bags under their eyes in the country – with night-time business worries in the capital rising by 14% since the start of 2018. Retail was the sector most likely to give business owners nightmares. More than four in five small business owners (87%) within the retail sector admitted to being kept awake at night by business concerns – rising from 75% a year ago.  Others sectors where entrepreneurs were more likely to experience sleepless nights included transport (78%, up from 69% at the start of 2018), real estate (80%), and education (76%). Resting easier The Business Barometer also indicates not all owners have been letting their business concerns come to bed with them. Entrepreneurs in Yorkshire reported getting a better night’s sleep over the course of the 12 months (31%, Q1 2019 vs. 25%, Q1 2018).

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Business technology has the potential to boost mental health in the workplace

Mental Health Awareness Week: 13-19 May 2019 In our digital age, technology is often considered to be a big stressor for our mental health. Research and health warnings have helped us to realise that social media and too much screen time can increase the risk of depression and anxiety. With so much awareness around the topic now, we’re becoming more mindful as a nation and looking at ways to make changes. However, technology can work well in steering us into creating positive habits and boosting our mental health. To help deal with rising levels of anxiety and depression, many of us now use health apps as part of our daily routines, including Headspace, Calm and Stop, Breathe & Think. Does your business function in a way that works to combat stress in the working environment? Read our guide below to understand how businesses can employ technologies to help address the issue. Find out if your business could do more… 59% of UK adults claim their biggest cause of stress is their workplace 59% of UK adults experience workplace stress (Perkbox), making it the most common cause of stress in the UK. What’s more, over one in five experience moderate-to-high levels of stress at work several times a week. The biggest work-related contributor to stress is long working hours, which impacts 21% of people. Happiness in a job is essential to employee productivity; 39% work harder if they’re happy in their current job or workplace (One4all). Artificial intelligence (AI) can help drive business efficiency Productivity is the holy grail businesses across the world are trying to achieve, and a lot of them are turning to technology to help. Innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) are driving efficiencies by eliminating manual, repetitive and time-consuming tasks like data re-entry. Employees with jobs that require a lot of manual data input could save hours by using technology that now comes as standard in many of the latest versions of the software solutions they use daily, like their financial systems or CRM solution. While this functionality is built into a lot of these programmes now, it’s the latest versions, meaning businesses operating on older legacy systems won’t reap these benefits. Plus, old clunky software that is difficult to use can make an employee’s job even more difficult. Additionally, Randstad found that one of the top factors in employee satisfaction is having the latest digital and technology tools. Improve remote employees engagement levels with intranet solutions The businesses most likely to report issues with employee engagement are those with frontline or remote workers; 21% of businesses cite low engagement amongst frontline staff as a barrier, while 78% believe connecting with those employees is the key to success (Harvard Business Review). Many studies evidence the advantage of offering remote working to your employees, with improved satisfaction, increased productivity and a better work-life balance just a few of the benefits, it can be easy for those workers to feel out of the loop with the office and company culture; 21% report feeling lonely and struggle with communication. A lot of businesses are engaging and communicating effectively with these workers by using intranet solutions. By keeping up-to-date with key business updates and more informal topics, remote workers feel like they’re truly a part of your organisation’s culture. You can use this space to share social media feeds, event details or even take the opportunity to publish focus pieces on those remote workers to introduce them to the rest of your workforce. Alleviate pressure on staff with time management technologies Thanks to our always-on culture and high workloads, we’re working longer hours than ever before. Employees often feel obligated to either work longer hours or to be contactable and working outside of hours, with 50% of people checking their emails outside of work (Dissent). Working more hours than standard can affect health, as the Australian National University found anything over 39 hours a week could be detrimental to health. To gain control over workloads and reduce the pressure they put upon themselves, employees can use time management technologies. Ultimately, management must play a role in helping employees to reduce extensive working hours, but workers can proactively take steps to support themselves. Time management tools are available to individuals for free, or as part of wider business solutions. From personal to-do lists to more comprehensive team or business-wide solutions where tasks can be assigned with a deadline and space for updates, the sky is the limit. The key to reducing stress at work: a blend of technology & support from management There isn’t a magic catch-all solution that exists to solve workplace stress. In addition to using technology to manage stress, employees must be supported by their managers and businesses. But, amidst all of the headlines that identify technology as a killer of productivity and mental health, it’s reassuring that it can also be used to vastly improve them, too.   Article produced by Natasha Bougourd from TSG, a UK firm and provider of managed IT services, specialising in IT support and solutions, security and applications including Office 365 and Sage.

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