Author: Olivia Parrish,
Published: 23.12.21

How business owners can protect their mental health

Making sure your employees have mental health support is likely to be one of your main people priorities, particularly after the impacts of COVID-19. However, despite the financial, personal and business pressures they have come under, particularly in the last two years, business owners’ own mental health has taken a back seat.

This is despite the fact that 80% of business owners have reported experiencing symptoms of poor mental health, including panic attacks and depressive feelings. So, what pressures are business owners coping with and what is the best way for them to find support?

What pressures are business owners under?

The economic downturn and emotional upheaval caused by COVID-19 had a particularly pointed impact on business owners and the self-employed. With losses for UK SMEs amounting to £126.6bn over the course of lockdowns and changing restrictions, owners have been placed under even greater pressure financially, professionally and personally.

Financial.

Sudden lockdowns led to immediate drops or complete stoppages in income for many businesses and their owners. Despite some government support and the gradual loosening of restrictions, 16% of owners have taken out personal loans in order to keep themselves financially afloat. Plus, as their business has started to reopen, owners have found themselves under greater pressure to take on as much work as possible, with two-thirds saying they’d sacrificed their mental health in the name of financial success.

Professional.

From putting employees on furlough to navigating the ever-changing levels of restrictions and waiting for government support, COVID-19 has tested even the best of leaders. So much so that 1 in 5 owners feel like giving up running their businesses all together. Combined with some redundancies, resignations and losses in business, owners are returning to work with demotivated teams and a deflated self-esteem.

Personal.

Whether it’s trying to run a business from the kitchen table or balancing their children’s homeschooling with day-to-day business operations, 86% of female business owners and 76% of male owners reported common poor mental health symptoms post-COVID-19. In some cases, these feelings have already had a permanent impact, with 22% sacrificing friendships as a result of their symptoms, with the same amount feeling shut off or disengaged from others.

Why is it important for a business owners’ to manage their mental health?

Just like employees’ mental health, supporting the welfare of business owners is key to keeping their organisation afloat. Indeed, some might argue that owners’ mental health is more important to this, because if they don’t feel well enough to drive their business forward, then it’s unlikely their team will too.

Plus, business owners with poor mental health, particularly within SMEs, can have a direct impact on that of any other employees. If businesses owners are suffering from an inability to focus, increased levels of stress or burnout, then other colleagues or employees will sense this and start to disengage or become demotivated.

In short, for the sake of the long-term welfare of themselves and their businesses, it’s important to put controls in place to protect owners’ mental health.

How can business owners protect their mental health?

In a recent survey, 31% of owners said they didn’t know where to go for help or didn’t know that support existed. However, there are partners that can help, as well as controls owners can put in place themselves to avoid long-term mental health problems.

Find someone to talk to.

Many business owners take the challenges, struggles and stresses they face in running their organisation on their own shoulders. Whether it’s a therapist, trusted friend or another business owner in your network, finding someone to offload to is key to helping you stay resilient in the long term.

Don’t be afraid to delegate.

You’ve built a team that are experts in what they do, and you trust to help you run your business, so if you feel the need to step back for a period of time, then don’t be afraid to pass over tasks or responsibilities to your colleagues.

In many cases, colleagues will be happy to help and see it as an opportunity to prove themselves, learn and grow. However, make sure you don’t drop them in it, make sure they can ask any questions and give them a thorough handover to refer back to.

Schedule in proper breaks.

Just like any other employee, business owners deserve a holiday too. Make sure you book in decent breaks for one or two weeks in advance and stick to them. Give a handover, put your out of office message on and switch off your email notifications.

Trusting your colleagues to deal with the day-to-day and letting them know you’re at the end of the phone if a crisis occurs is just as important for your team as it is for your mental resilience.

Don’t let it get to a crisis point.

All of these controls can help, if they’re put in place early enough. By the time you feel burnout, depressed or anxious, it’s too late and may mean you have to suddenly take more time off. By putting the same level of care and welfare controls in place as you do for your employees, you can make sure your mental health is protected and doesn’t get to a dangerous point for yourself and your business.

Get external support.

Although there’s no official channel that provides support for business owners, there are organisations out there that can help. Leap People Solutions is just one of them. From helping you set up an Employee Assistance Programme for your team to giving you the support you need, our friendly team can help you to protect your own mental health and keep your business growing and thriving.

To find out more about how we can help, get in touch by calling 0800 048 7742 or emailing hello@leappeoplesolutions.com

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