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60% of senior business leaders say they never switch off from work

Many senior leaders in British and Irish SMEs struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance and never switch off from work, according to the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer research.

More than two-fifths (45%) of all senior managers say that they feel their business requires them to be ‘always on’. The issue intensifies for CEOs (61%), managing directors (62%) and chair persons (64%), where more than 60% admit they ‘do not switch off’.

Aside from time spent in the office, some decision makers are available 24/7 thanks to their mobile phone. A third (33%) say that they never turn it off, and a further 29% only do when on holiday.

However, the research also shows that businesses are trying to combat the stress associated with this non-stop lifestyle. According to responses, companies are promoting well-being by encouraging behaviours such as leaving on time (40%), using flexitime (35%), having regular breaks (33%) and working from home (31%).

Positively, 67% of those in leadership roles say they feel these initiatives apply to them too, but more needs to be done to ensure all employees achieve a good work-life balance. Nearly a fifth (19%) of senior decision makers say that well-being practices do not apply to them, and a further 13% say they are only partially relevant.

David Thomson, CEO of Close Brothers Invoice Finance, said: ‘Business leaders have notoriously busy and complicated schedules and in today’s digitally connected environment, there can be pressure to be available 24/7. However, finding an equilibrium between work and the wider world is a vital part of success.

‘It is positive to see that many SMEs are endorsing behaviours that improve work-life balance. Aside from reducing stress, this can bring tangible benefits, including increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and a more committed workforce.

‘Companies must ensure that well-being and mental health initiatives are available to all staff, regardless of seniority. Senior figures in businesses should also work cohesively to lighten the load. Simple changes, such as ensuring out-of-hours workloads are shared, can be effective in ensuring that everyone feels supported.’