Work and Wellbeing · 19 December 2017

Self-employed workers suffer less stress than permanent staff

Are self-employed people really less stressed?
Are self-employed people really less stressed?
According to research by AXA Business Insurance, although 78 per cent of self-employed people described themselves as stressed to some extent, nine in ten of those working for an employer said the same.

In addition, fewer self-employed workers said their stress came from their work life – 42 per cent compared to 61 per cent of company employees. Furthermore, those working for themselves were three times less likely to say they dealt with difficult people as part of their day-to-day work.

While 11 per cent of workers say they are constantly stressed, this falls to just two per cent of self-employed workers. When asked about their overall mental health, 30 per cent of full-time employees raised concerns, compared to just 11 per cent of self-employed.

Self-employed workers are also less likely to feel their income is insecure in the long term – just under half said they worry about the stability of their business, whereas two thirds of employees worry that their jobs are insecure.
There is a trade-off, however, as self-employed workers are “always on”, with two thirds of business owners say they always take calls and emails from customers outside normal working hours.

Gareth Howell, managing director, AXA Direct, 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. This is a fascinating bit of insight: does life just get less stressful when you’re self-employed, or do you simply become more resilient?”

“I do feel there is something here about how much control an individual feels they have over their destiny. 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. 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 Stress Index.”

On average, a full-time self-employed person earns £33,000, or £6,000 more than the average employee.
There are extremes at both ends of the spectrum too, with one in ten self-employed workers earning under £11,000 a year from their businesses, and 22 per cent earning above the £45,000 higher rate of tax.

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Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Business Advice. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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