COVID-19 Creates More Stress for Australian Small Business Community

New research from MYOB reveals two thirds (66%) of small businesses feel COVID-19 has impacted their mental wellbeing, with 58% revealing the pandemic has negatively impacted their business.

The research, conducted with more than 1,200 small business owners and operators, has been released by MYOB to coincide with the launch of a new partnership with leading Australian not-for-profit in the preventative mental health space, Smiling Mind.

The new partnership will see four dedicated modules launched in the leading Smiling Mind app to help small business owners take proactive steps to manage their mental health. The modules include Mindfulness Foundations, Stress Management, Relationships and Resilience, and were designed to help small business owners manage the unique range of stressors and challenges they face on a regular basis.

The top five factors that have impacted respondents’ wellbeing in the last 12 months are COVID-19 (selected by 55% of respondents), finances (51%), work related stress (45%), lack of sleep (41%) and relationships (22%). It’s also clear from the research that the challenges of working from home are proving difficult for small businesses.

Working from home stresses for small businesses: 

  • One third of respondents said the requirement to work from home has negatively impacted their mental wellbeing
  • While working from home the biggest challenges include trying to separate home life and work life (33%), not having face to face interactions with clients and customers (32%), not being able to socialise with colleagues (29%), sitting at a desk all day (25%) and snacking and not eating the right food (25%).
  • Respondents have found exercise (51%), watching TV or movies (47%), being outside (47%) and connecting with family and friends (47%) as helpful ways to boost their mental health during this time.

MYOB Chief Employee Experience Officer, Helen Lea, said the launch of the new content has come at a time when small business owners really need it. “This new research shows that 67% of respondents have experienced feelings of stress or anxiety trying to work around the new restrictions put in place in relation to COVID-19.

“We have been talking to small businesses about their mental health and wellbeing for the last couple of years and working with Smiling Mind on this partnership for the last six months. We could not have known how important these conversations would become as small businesses face a pandemic and business operating restrictions.

“As rewarding as it can be, running a small business brings with it a range of stressors and challenges. The research found that over the journey of running a small business, respondents have felt increased feelings of stress (64%) and anxiety (62%). Partnering with Smiling Mind to enable them to create dedicated content for the 2.4 million small businesses in Australia is one way we can help this community.” Ms. Lea added.

66% of respondents take time for their mental health, but 28% say they know they should but they don’t have time. Managing cash flow and financial issues, long hours, work-life balance, feeling isolated, wearing multiple hats and a general feeling of responsibility for the businesses success or failure bring with it stress and anxiety. This new program is designed to help manage those feelings.

Smiling Mind’s Co-Founder and Chair, Jane Martino, has been a deep participant in the Australian technology scene as a founder, investor, and advisor to high profile start-ups. Commenting on the four modules chosen for launch, she noted that each represented a critical building block for any small business owner focusing on their mental health and is designed to be used proactively to support good mental health.

“Australian businesses are under immense pressure right now, and the confronting reality is that these COVID-19 related burdens are likely to remain for months, and potentially years, to come.

“This partnership with MYOB has enabled us to deliver free, easily implementable tools to help those feeling the strain. We know that when you allow your mind to enter a state of calm, you have the mental clarity to help your business thrive – we want to deliver a sense of control to business owners at a time where control has been so elusive.”

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