Alongside the negative impact to trade, recent research by MYOB has revealed two-thirds of small business owners feel their mental health and wellbeing has also been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the findings, MYOB has joined forces with mental health provider Smiling Minds to help small business owners tack control of their wellbeing. The partnership sees the launch of dedicated modules in the Smiling Mind app to assist small business owners to take proactive steps to manage their mental health. The modules include Mindfulness Foundations, Stress Management, Relationships and Resilience.
MYOB Chief Employee Experience Officer, Helen Lea, said research shows the launch of the new content has come at a time when small business owners are feeling particularly stressed. Sixty-seven percent of recent MYOB survey respondents say they 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 per cent) and anxiety (62per cent). 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,” Lea said.
While two-thirds of small business owners are already prioritising their mental health almost three in ten (28 per cent) say they know they should but don’t have time. MYOB hopes the new Smiling Mind program will help these business owners find time to manage their stress and anxiety.
Smiling Mind’s Co-Founder and Chair, Jane Martino, says the app provides critical building blocks for any small business owner focusing on their mental health and is designed to be used proactively to support wellbeing.
“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.”
While COVID-19 is the number one thing keeping business owners awake at night, other issues also factor highly, with five-in-ten reporting stress due to finances, 45 per cent work-related stress and four-in-ten citing lack of sleep as an issue.
The COVID-19 restrictions which forced many small businesses to shut down or operate from home were also negatively impacting wellbeing, with one-third saying working from home had impacted tier mental health. Amongst the biggest challenges were trying to separate home life and work-life (33 per cent), not having face-to-face interactions with clients and customers (32 per cent), not being able to socialise with colleagues (29 per cent), sitting at a desk all day (25 per cent) and snacking and not eating the right food (25 per cent).