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Mental health: Small businesses hit by staff wellbeing issues

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More than half of small businesses reported poor work life balance as a cause. Photo: Getty Images
More than half of small businesses reported poor work-life balance as a cause for wellbeing issues. Photo: Getty Images

Increasing pressure and bigger workloads is causing stress and wellbeing issues among employees in the UK’s small businesses, with London having a particularly acute problem.

Almost half (49%) of small businesses have reported issues with their staff’s health and wellbeing during the past year, according to a survey conducted amongst SMEs by Lloyds Bank (LLOY.L) Business.

The pressure of responsibilities was cited as the main reason for becoming unwell (58%), with a similar proportion feeling overworked (57%). More than half (55%) reported poor work-life balance as a cause.

“The wellbeing and health of employees should always be a priority, but never more so than now, when we are dealing with the impact of the pandemic,” said Gareth Oakley, managing director of business banking at Lloyds Bank.

“The months ahead may be a testing time for some British businesses, so it’s vital that employers continue to focus on both their own wellbeing and that of their employees.”

Read more: Mental health breaks: Why more companies should follow Nike and Bumble

Almost three-quarters (73%) of bigger firms – those employing more than 35 staff – said they’ve had issues during the past 12 months, compared to around half (49%) of smaller companies (with only two to nine staff members).

A quarter (27%) of sole traders say they have experienced such issues as a result of their work in the last year.

A fifth of respondents (20%) had personally become unwell because of pressure and stress at work, with a further 15% worried that they might do so in future.

Those aged between 35 to 44 were the most likely to have become unwell (30%), while those aged more than 55 were least likely (just 15%).

Businesses in London were particularly at risk of such difficulties (60%) with the health and wellbeing of staff, while those in the north of England have been least impacted (44%).

A recent report by LifeWorks, a provider of digital total wellbeing solutions, found nearly one-quarter (24%) of Britons reported that work has hindered their mental wellbeing during the pandemic, an increase from 22% before the pandemic.

A figure of 35% of those under 40 reported that they feel in crisis or have concerns about their mental health and ability to cope. Managers are more than 60% more likely than non-managers to report the same concerns.

Companies around the world are trying to improve staff wellbeing in a variety of ways.

Dating app Bumble (BMBL) gave staff a paid week off work to recover from “collective burnout” triggered by the pandemic, as staff struggled to switch off when working from home.

Nike (NKE) also gave it its head office employees in the US a week off to relax and "destress" after the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic

Watch: How to negotiate a pay rise

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