Insurance · 10 July 2017

Britain’s overworked small business owners take fewer than six days off a year

Worried father looking at smart phone and holding hand on forehead, in background his daughter doing homework
One in five small company owners cancelled a planned holiday to complete a project

UK founders could be putting their own health and wellbeing at risk in the interests of their company, as new research reveals a fifth of overworked small business owners failed to take a single day off in the last year.

The study, by challenger bank Aldermore, looked at the holiday habits of founders and revealed that over half took five or fewer days off at all in the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, one in five had even cancelled a scheduled holiday in order to complete work on time.

For those that did manage to get away, failing to fully switch off from the day job could be undermining precious holiday hours. Almost a quarter still answered emails and phone calls whilst on a break, while over a third tried to finish outstanding work.

The research suggested small business leaders might benefit from the approach taken when managing their own staff. Some seven in ten employers encouraged workers to take their full holiday entitlement, with just one in six actively suggesting employees forfeit their full allowance.

Commenting on the findings, Carl D’Ammassa, a director at Aldermore, said it was worrying the annual leave of “so many” overworked small business owners didn’t reflect the entitlement of employees.

“It is crucial they take proper breaks to achieve a good work life balance and avoid burn out. Enjoying well-earned time off to recharge their batteries could bring a fresh perspective to their business thinking,” he added.

London’s small company owners were most guilty of overworking, with almost a third attending to business calls and emails whilst on holiday.

Achieving a positive work-life balance

A recent study suggested positive physical and mental wellbeing could be the key to business success in 2017.

Software provider Xero’s “Make or Break” report found that almost four in five small business owners agreed their physical and emotional health had a direct impact on bottom line profits.

Some 85 per cent agreed it was important to take breaks from work when necessary, while over half claimed they planned to take more time off from running their company this year than in 2016.

Xero’s UK managing director, Gary Turner, claimed sensible working habits could prove “vital” in solving Britain’s so-called “productivity puzzle”.

“Our report reveals that small business owners are actively encouraging a healthier work-life balance for themselves and their staff, being rewarded with increased productivity as a result,” he said in a statement.

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

Work and Wellbeing