Three quarters of SME business owners have one or no rest day after strain of pandemic

86% of small business owners are working over the recommended maximum of 48 hours a week, a new report has revealed. 

The 2021 Business Challenges report carried out by card payments specialist takepayments Limited, has revealed the true strain the pandemic has put on the wellbeing of SME business owners, including making difficult staffing decisions to keep financial costs down.

Of those asked, one in three (29%) business owners even expect their business to close in 2021. 

The report finds one in three (29%) business owners let staff go due to the pandemic and more than two fifths (43%) had to use the furlough scheme to retain staff. 

As businesses cut back on staff to keep costs down, more than two thirds (67%) of business owners had to work more hours to make up for lack of employees.

The long hours have taken its toll on business owners. Those who state they have a good work life balance has declined by 25%, from 59% being happy with their work life balance in 2019 down to just 34% in 2020. 

This comes as no surprise as 86% said they are working over the maximum weekly working hours of 48 hours and almost three quarters (72%) admit they don’t have at least two non-working days a week – an increase of 55% from 2019. 

Sandra Rowley at takepayments said: “2020 proved a challenging time for all businesses and unfortunately the uncertainty will continue into this year. However we have light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully life can start to go back to normal following a successful roll out of the vaccine.”

“Whilst business owners are faced with difficult staff decisions and working all hours to try and keep their business afloat, it is a real concern that they may find themselves burnt out.” 

Businesses within the law enforcement and security sector have been most likely to let staff members go (40%), whilst almost two thirds (62%) of businesses within the performing arts industry used the furlough scheme. 

One in two (51%) in the hospitality and event management industry also relied heavily on the Government’s furlough scheme.  

Business owners working in energy and utilities, engineering and manufacturing and environment and agriculture sectors were the most likely to work longer hours as more than three quarters (77%) are doing so. 

Sandra Rowley at takepayments limited added ”While the past year has been a struggle, one positive takeaway SMEs have is how the pandemic has led to many fast tracking their business in some way, whether it’s launching an area of the business they wouldn’t have otherwise or simply introducing new technology to help their service adapt to the climate. Businesses can take confidence from knowing how adaptable they have become, which will should give them assurance for whatever may come their way in 2021”

The full findings of the takepayments 2021 Business Challenges Report is available to view here.

Author: Editorial Team

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