Insurance · 14 November 2017

Self-employment found to be less stressful than other types of work

Work life balance choices
Self-employment may help people take back control of their work-life balance

People that work for themselves are some of the least stressed in the UK, busting the myth that self-employment leads to an unhealthy work-life balance.

A survey from Axa Business Insurance has found that self-employed people are less stressed, have a better work-life balance and better mental health than other workers.

Some 78 per cent of self-employed people said they were stressed to some degree. While this figure may seem high, the proportion of UK employees (those that work for someone else) claiming they were stressed, was 90 per cent.

The research did reveal some key “pain points” of stress for self-employed people, however. Having to be on-hand for 24-hours a day, and fluctuating month-by-month income, were found to be the hardest aspects of self-employment.

Self-employed people are less likely to develop a chronic problem with stress when they get it, the study also showed. Whilst 11 per cent of workers said they were stressed all the time, that falls to two per cent of the self-employed.

Meanwhile, when asked about their general mental health, 30 per cent of full-time staff said they had concerns, compared to just 11 per cent of self-employed.

Managing stress and lone working: Advice from a business coach

Busting another myth, the study revealed that becoming self-employed doesn’t involve having to scratch out a living until you one day become filthy rich, but that it can provide a steady income.

A full-time self-employed person earns £33,000 on average (£6,000 more than the average employee). However, the two extremes of self-employed pay do exits.

Some ten per cent of self-employed people earn less than £11,000 a year, whilst 22 per cent earn above the higher tax rate of £45,000, and four per cent earn £100,000 a year or more.

Commenting on the research findings, Axa Direct managing director, Gareth Howell, asked whether life gets less stressful during self-employment, or whether the self-employed have simply developed a thicker skin to absorb personal financial shocks and fluctuations.

He said: “We have the stereotype of the adrenalin driven entrepreneur and assume that being your own boss is always stressful. Looking at our index, self-employed people do indeed appear stressed, but that’s only before you compare them to everyone else.

“Being able to wrest back control in an uncertain world is the crux of our self-employment boom, and explains why the self-employed come out best in this year’s study.

“When we asked people about their motivations for starting a business ‘control’ was the word that came up time and again, in four in ten verbatim answers.

“There is something here about how much control an individual feels they have over their destiny.”

Work-related stress becomes biggest driver of sleep deprivation among employees

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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