Small and medum-sized enterprise owners are risking burnout and ill health as they battle absence to keep their businesses afloat, research finds.
Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners are risking burnout and ill health as they battle absence to keep their businesses afloat, research finds.
Four in ten (40 per cent) heads of small companies say they continue to work from their sick beds when ill because there’s nobody else to pick up the slack, according to a study from private health insurance company Bupa.
With financial pressure and a lack of resources hampering succession planning, almost a third (31 per cent) say that their business would collapse if they were to take time off.
Employees seem to be compounding the problem. Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of SME owners say that employee absence is negatively affecting their business, and according to 46 per cent, high levels of employee absence is estimated to contribute up to a 10 per cent drop in turnover in small businesses.
Tony Wood, sales and marketing director at Bupa says, ‘Small business bosses are real troopers; they are totally committed to running their firms in sickness as well as health. However they need to think about how to take care of their health needs and those of their staff, as working through sickness isn’t a long-term solution for anyone.’
The Bupa research shows that the sectors worst affected by workplace absence are property and technology companies, with 77 per cent of small business bosses surveyed in each of these sectors agreeing that sick leave has a considerable financial impact on business.
Other sectors suffering from the effects of unplanned leave are hospitality (58 per cent) and retail (50 per cent).
Bupa’s 2011 study found over half (51 per cent) of all HR managers claim that staff sickness absence puts additional stress on those employees left to ‘hold the fort’. One in three (31 per cent) staff stated they had to take on extra overtime to pick up additional workload as a result of colleagues being off sick.
The research was in response to the government’s Sickness Absence Review in November which found that the way sickness absence is managed by businesses can radically alter the length of time someone is off work.
See also: ‘We don’t like Mondays’ say SMEs