Australian small business owners are struggling to get some much-needed time away from work, according to research published this week by accounting software firm Xero.
A survey of more than 500 small business owners found more than half of self-employed people find it difficult to take time off work, with almost 40% preferring to instead work through the summer holidays.
More than half of the business owners surveyed by Xero stated they hadn’t had a holiday in more than a year.
Meanwhile, almost a quarter of respondents hadn’t had a holiday in more than two years and only around 10% turn off email notifications while they are meant to be on vacation.
The survey found technology could allow small business owners some time at the beach, given many people are unlikely to go on holiday unless they can still check in on their business and answer important calls and emails.
However, only 12% of small business owners use technology to run their business remotely, according to the study.
Xero’s managing director for Australia, Chris Ridd, said it is important for small business owners to take time off work in order to avoid burning out in the lead-up to Christmas.
“We already knew that small business owners are hard workers, but the fact that almost a quarter haven’t taken a holiday in over two years is quite concerning,” Ridd said.
“There are plenty of tools to help small businesses manage their business and work remotely if need be, allowing them to check in on their business with the click of a button no matter where they are.
“Having the ability to know what’s going on in your business whilst you’re away can lead to greater peace of mind, giving business owners more incentive to take time off work.”
Even if you can only take a couple of days off, make those few days count
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany it is essential for small business owners to look after themselves, especially during such a busy time of the year.
“The only person who can look after you is you,” Strong says.
“In the end, the [industrial relations] system says the most important person is the employee. The system says the employer is not a human being
“So what we’re saying to small business people is we’re going to keep going on about the fact we’re people and we’ve got to focus on health.”
Strong says he knows exactly how hard it can be to switch off but small business owners need to make sure they get some downtime.
“Some people might only take a week or a two weeks off, but make those two weeks or one week count by tuning out,” he says.
“I now that’s very hard, but I would say to anybody that if you’re having trouble tuning-out – go talk to someone. There’s people out there that really understand.”