The COVID-19 pandemic is causing SME business owners to feel they need to always be ‘on’, according to the latest independent research from Close Brothers Asset Finance.
As many as three out of five respondents answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘in the current circumstances, do you feel that your business requires you to be ‘always on’?’, with the figure rising to 66% in the transport and haulage sector.
The pandemic is also having a far-reaching impact on mental health, with two-thirds of participants in the research admitting to being negatively affected by one or more of the following symptoms (in order of most selected):
- Feeling more anxious
- Sleepless nights
- Can’t switch off
- Increased low moods
- Increased loneliness
‘This is a sobering set of results,’ said Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing. ‘Business owners are struggling to switch off from the demands of the job, with concerns about staff well-being, cashflow, profitability and the economy uppermost in their minds.
‘People in every sector, regardless of [the] size of [the] firm, have been impacted by the pandemic, which again demonstrates just how indiscriminate it’s been, with a recent study noting one in four UK adults’ mental health has been negatively impacted by COVID-19, and one in three have reported feelings of loneliness, which closely mirrors our own findings.’
‘Much of the early official advice focused on how to protect individuals and others from spreading the physical virus, information about other factors, including keeping mental health in check and how to battle feelings of loneliness along with suitable self-care measures, have been less well communicated,’ said Neil.
In spite of this, business owners have employed a variety of coping mechanisms to help them reduce their stress and anxiety, including (in order of ‘most used’):
- Maintaining a routine
- Staying organised
- Taking regular breaks
- More flexibility towards the working day
- Sharing concerns with colleagues or friends and family
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