Stress levels continue to rise within SMEs

Stress had a large impact on businesses last year with about 42% of all senior managers of SMEs included in the SME Risk Index quarterly released by Zurich stating that they felt stress during the last quarter of 2012. About 20% explained that workforce absence levels have steadily increased over the past two years with another 12% stating that a major cause of short term stress is when employees unexpectedly are absent.

Over 500 SME owners were included in the YouGov survey which shows that low morale, stress, and staff absence are all negative effects on business and that these problems will likely continue to be a problem for small and medium businesses unless the economic environment starts to improve.

Almost 30% of SMES that were involved in the poll explained that the above mentioned issues are all hurting their business performance. Absence level records for the past two years have increased about a quarter for small companies and a third for medium companies suggesting that stresses over absences could be an increasing problem as businesses become more established and larger.

About a quarter of SMEs also reported that their workforce had an overall lower level of morale during last year increasing up to 27% and 39% for small and medium enterprises. Another half of the SMEs in the UK reported that there is more risk of stress at work compared to 2011 because there are more pressures affecting SMEs.

Despite this fact SMEs remained optimistic about the coming year with 33% stating that they are looking towards future business expansion within Britain and another third stating that they think the economic environment is going to strengthen across the US. Director of SME for Zurich Insurance, Richard Coleman, stated that the figures show that there are still many risks and challenges facing SMEs across the UK.