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Ways Employers can Support Their Mental Health During the Holidays

Published December 12, 2022 (last updated on February 27, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer


Many business owners see November and Christmas as an opportunity to catch up after a slow and difficult year. Small business owners have faced another challenging year navigating increasing wages, inflations, and supply chain issues. While it is important to maximise the Christmas window, it must not create additional stress or burnout for employers. Christmas can be an exceptionally stressful time of the year. The holidays bring specific troubles like shorter deadlines, increased workloads, family commitments, and increased expenses. How can employers look after their mental health and well-being?

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Small business owners and mental health

A new Treasury report has revealed that one in five Australian small business owners have been diagnosed with a mental health condition in recent months. Finding a balance between work and personal commitments was the top stressor in early 2022.

The survey conducted by Treasury indicates small business owners continue to experience high levels of mental ill-health. 22% reported having been diagnosed with a mental il-health condition by a doctor or health professional in recent months.

The main stressors for business owners were:

  • Survival of the business

  • Profitability

  • Feeling obligated to work when sick

  • Long working hours

  • Sense of having to do everything on their own

  • Staffing challenges

Only 43% of Australian small business owners take at least four weeks of annual leave. Data also revealed that when small business owners take leave they find it hard to detach from their businesses. 77% of employers still think about their business when on holiday, making burnout a serious concern. Business owners are unable to find the time to take a break. They could be at serious risk of burnout or stress if they don’t take sufficient breaks.

Small business owners are so occupied with juggling their duties and looking after their employees that they forget to look after themselves. 48% of Australian small business owners believe managing employee processes is taxing their mental health.

Mental health across industries

Some industries reported a higher proportion of mental illness. 36% of manufacturing business owners have received a diagnosis of mental ill-health.

Other industries that suffer from high rates of mental illnesses are:

  • 34% of retail business owners

  • 34% of accommodation and food services business owners

  • 33% of construction business owners

  • 32% of health care business owners.

This survey focused on asking business owners whether they have received a medical diagnosis of mental ill-health. The idea was to go beyond self-diagnosing and understanding the factors affecting small business owners. These industries are labour-intensive, demand long working hours, and have excessive workloads during certain seasons.

Industries like construction have a particularly masculine culture, one that promotes aggression, and bullying, and involves time spent away from families and loved ones. This can perpetuate damage to your mental health and well-being.

How can small business owners and employers handle the stress of the holiday season?

Create work-life balance

Business owners work exceptionally long hours during the holiday season leading to stress and anxiety. Small business owners often feel the need to ‘do it all.’ They feel they have to maintain a strong front for their employees, families, customers, and partners. By ignoring your needs and not creating a work-life balance, you risk damaging your mental health.

  • Set ‘no emails’ hours- It can be tempting to check your inbox regularly and answer all emails immediately. Set hours where you don’t check emails, so your brain can recharge and focus on the moment. You can also fix a time every day when you check and reply to all emails before calling it a day.

  • Define working hours- Being a business owner means being available 24/7 for your employees and customers. This also means you push yourselves to mental and physical exhaustion. Define your working hours and days and communicate them to your employees and customers. Ensure they know you will not be available outside of these times.

  • Delegate- Small business owners have trouble delegating because they are used to doing everything. Delegating can help you free up time and headspace that lets you focus on other tasks. Does this need to be handled by you? Can your employee or manager tackle this? Learn how to delegate effectively.

  • Take regular breaks- Don’t eat lunch at your desk or in meetings. Take regular breaks, take a walk, go for a coffee, or chat with your employees.

Mental Wellbeing Guide for Business Owners

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Ensure physical and mental health and well-being

  • Try stress management techniques– Try breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga to help manage stress.

  • Exercise– Finding time to exercise can be tricky but having a regular exercise routine can dispel energy and clear your mind.

  • Drink water– Hydrate regularly

  • Have a hobby– Having something outside the scope of work can engage your mind, improve creativity, and relax you.

  • Meaningfully connect– Use this time to be present with your family and loved ones.  Instead of overcommitting to work, try and connect with your family and embrace the holiday spirit.

Prepare your business

Small business owners are trying to remember all their duties and keep track of the changing regulatory environment. Preparing your business gives you breathing space to take a step back and take it slow over the holidays.

  • Know your duties- 56% of employers say managing employees in an ever-changing regulatory environment is stressful and confusing. Know your duties and obligations by reaching out to Employsure. We have helped 30,000 business owners across Australia and New Zealand in employment relations.

  • Have all documents and policies in place- Having accurate documents and policies is half the battle won. The right policies protect your business and communicate expected standards of conduct to your employees.

Grow with Employsure

Employsure has worked with 30,000 business owners across Australia and New Zealand. We understand how stressful it can be to manage staff and keep up with changing regulations.

Call our 24/7 Advice Line today to get all your questions answered.

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