Extensive work commitments are having a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of small business owners in the U.K., according to new research from Zurich UK. The study found that two in five (41%) are affected by intense work-related stress with more than half (51%) of small business owners suffering from sleep disruption and a third (34%) regularly missing family events.
In fact, the data shows that SME owners are sacrificing large portions of their free time to keep their businesses running profitably. A third (33%) admitted working every weekend, while nearly one in six (16%) said that they work on the weekend approximately once a fortnight.
These working patterns are having a potentially dangerous impact in certain sectors, with interrupted sleeping patterns now commonplace in some professions. In transport and distribution, for example, the vast majority (70%) reported that they suffered from sleep disruption – a worrying prospect, given that many roles in the sector require the alertness to operate vehicles and heavy machinery.
This may in part be due to the early hour at which many business owners feel they need to begin work. Almost a quarter of Britain’s SME owners are now consistently starting their working day before 7.30 am (24%), while about two thirds (61%) report starting before 8.30am.
The study also highlighted regional differences in working habits across the UK. The North East are by far the earliest risers, with one in five (20%) beginning work before 7.00am, whereas in the East of England more than two fifths (44%) of small business owners begin work after the traditional start time of 9.00am.
Paul Tombs, Head of SME Proposition at Zurich, comments:
“This data showcases the hard work put in by SMEs across the UK. Whilst this commitment is hugely impressive, it is alarming to see the high levels of stress being reported by small business owners.
“SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy, and make up the majority of employment opportunities in the market. Business continuity among small business owners is, therefore, crucial and being aware of the increased business risks that arise due to the impact of over-working is an important part of the equation.
“Running a small or medium-sized business takes dedication and graft, and it’s clear that owners are giving up their most precious commodity; time.”