Everyone knows the feeling of Sunday night blues. The feeling that work is about to start again and the anxiety that it brings. In the UK, 13
million working days are lost to stress each year. A new study has discovered that everyone from admin workers to business owners are feeling Sunday dread, with the overwhelming nature of work-related fear taking over their weekends. The survey,
by Aviva, had 2000 respondents from around the UK, in various industries. It aimed to tackle the subject of work-based anxiety, lifting the lid on how prominent the issue really is.
Cutting the weekend
Owning your own business means that you are passionate about your job, but that doesn’t stop you from worrying. More than half (55%) of business owners admit that their weekend is cut short due to anxiety about the week ahead. 57% said they spent up to eight hours dreading work over the weekend, and 34% spend between 30 minutes and two hours checking emails. With so much at stake with owning your own business, the statistics show that owners just cannot switch off.
Effects of Anxiety
Work-induced anxiety has a lasting effect – not just mentally, but physically too. Business owners are tired, not sleeping well, irritable and not being social with friends over the weekend, according to the survey findings. On a Sunday night, three quarters of respondents were prone to getting a bad night’s sleep, with the anxiety of Monday hanging over them.
In comparison to employees in the survey, personal pressures were a trigger for anxiety in business owners (27%). Self-employment has an unavoidable impact on home life, with the pressure to pay the bills and providing for the family combined with spending time with them at home. To alleviate some of this personal pressure, business owners can invest in time management assistance – delegating tasks such as bookkeeping, customer support, cleaning and invoicing. The same technique can be applied to your home life, so that your time with your family and friends is maximised.
The most common factors making business owners fret about work were a heavy workload (35%) and working taking over their lives (28%). A heavy workload is natural as owners do tend to pick up the most work, especially in the infant stages of their business. However, delegating and outsourcing can help. Create a plan for your weekly workload, block out time in your calendar and stick to it. Always set yourself realistic deadlines, too – this will increase productivity.
Dread: 4-day weeks and work email ban
A quarter of business owners would consider introducing a four-day week to combat work anxiety. This is a topic which has been much discussed in the news of late, with the Labour Party making their case for shorter working weeks. A lot of smaller companies have already made the shift to four-day weeks – but not many big companies have followed suit. One of the UK’s biggest charities, the Wellcome Trust, consulted on it, but ultimately decided against it due to staff fears of a five-day workload being compressed into four days. However, for those who have made the switch, the results have paid dividends. Research by Henley
Business School revealed that a four-day week (on five days pay) increased staff productivity, and an uplift in wellbeing – both physically and mentally.
Whilst some business owners in Aviva’s survey were in favour of a four-day week, 54% opposed introducing a ban on work emails over the weekend. This could be because a lot of companies favour flexible working – working at a time that suits you, whether that is 7am on a weekday or 10pm on a Sunday.
Tips from Aviva
With stress and anxiety the biggest causes of sick days in the UK, business owners need to do more to combat the Sunday blues, both for themselves and their employees. It all boils down to workplace culture, according to Aviva’s Wellbeing Manager, Debbie Bullock.
“The culture of the organisation
is all-important. If there is a culture of long hours, and of success being
measured on the hours you work rather than the work you do, then colleagues
will feel the need to mirror this behaviour. To effect change, leaders need to
become role models – whether that’s finishing early to pick up their children,
getting to a gym class, or going for a walk during lunch breaks, there’s a lot
that can be done to lead by example.”