Pressure to be on call 24/7 affecting senior NW business leaders

Companies must focus on relieving stress

Many senior leaders in the North West struggle to maintain a healthy work/life balance and never switch off from work, according to the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer research.

More than two fifths (42.7%) of all senior managers say that they feel their business requires them to be ‘always on’.

Aside from time spent in the office, some decision makers are available 24/7 thanks to their mobile phone. A third (33.7%) say that they never turn it off, and a further 30.3% only do when on holiday, while 10.1% turn their phones off at weekends, and 19.1% in the evening.

However, the research also shows that businesses are trying to combat the stress associated with this non-stop lifestyle.

According to responses, companies are promoting wellbeing by encouraging behaviours such as leaving on time (42.7%), using flexitime (36%), having regular breaks (32.6%) and working from home (30.3%). The report says 15.7% enforce minimum holiday spend.

Positively, 65.2% of those in leadership roles say they feel these initiatives apply to them too, but more needs to be done to ensure all employees achieve a good work/life balance.

More than a fifth (27%) of senior decision makers say that wellbeing practices do not apply to them, and a further 7.9% say they are only partially relevant.

David Thomson, chief executive of Close Brothers Invoice Finance, which operates an office in Manchester, said: “Business leaders have notoriously busy and complicated schedules and in today’s digitally-connected environment there can be pressure to be available 24/7.

“However, finding an equilibrium between work and the wider world is a vital part of success.

“It is positive to see that many SMEs are endorsing behaviours that improve work/life balance.

“Aside from reducing stress, this can bring tangible benefits, including increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and a more committed workforce.”

He added: “Companies must ensure that wellbeing and mental health initiatives are available to all staff, regardless of seniority.

“Senior figures in businesses should also work cohesively to lighten the load. Simple changes, such as ensuring out-of-hours workloads are shared, can be effective in ensuring that everyone feels supported.”