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New research out today reveals that four out of five (78 per cent) of small business owners believe that physical and emotional wellbeing is directly linked to business performance, prioritising it to aid productivity.

Xero, the beautiful cloud accounting software company, asked small business owners about what it will take for a business to survive and thrive in 2017 in its Make or Break report, and ‘encouraging a healthy work-life balance’ was ranked second in a list of productivity boosts.

Almost half (49 per cent) of business owners say that emotional wellbeing is vital for business success. Physical wellbeing is also key, with 63 per cent saying it is important to get enough sleep, a balanced diet (57 per cent) and exercising regularly (49 per cent).

Business owners recognise that regularly recharging their physical and mental batteries can have a major effect on both the body and the bottom line with 85 per cent saying it is important to take a break, and more than half (52 per cent) planning to take more time off in 2017 than they did in 2016.

Marking the beginning of a new era of business management, the research also found that small business owners are rejecting the concept of work taking place within a 9-5 office structure, with 42 per cent hailing remote working and flexible hours as the biggest driver of productivity for themselves and their employees. Female respondents were particularly positive about the benefits of flexible working, with 48 per cent stating that it powered productivity in their business compared to 37 per cent of men, and the research found that almost half (47 per cent) felt that cloud technology allowed them to escape from traditional office routines, also citing paperless systems and simplified software management as a benefit.

Josephine Fairley, Green & Black’s co-founder and serial entrepreneur commented: “Your own health and wellbeing is of paramount importance as a small business owner and it’s great to see that small business owners are seeing the connection between personal health and their bottom line. It’s no surprise that small businesses said remote and flexible working was their biggest productivity driver either; I know how much my team gets done at home when they can fit their roles into their daily lives.” 

Gary Turner, UK co-founder and managing director commented: “Our report reveals that small business owners are actively encouraging a healthier work-life balance for themselves and their staff, being rewarded with increased productivity as a result – particularly vital considering Britain is second last of the G8 nations in the productivity table. Running a small business can be all-consuming but it’s great to see that small business owners are taking a holistic approach to their mental wellbeing and are ensuring that the health of their business doesn’t come at the cost of their own.”

To help small businesses, Jo Fairley shares her top tips for a healthier workplace:

  1. Encourage time off – some companies discourage their employees from taking their full holiday allowance in fear of having fewer hands on the job. This is poor management, as you will always get more out of your staff when they are well rested and have re-charged their batteries. That goes for the business owner, too.
  2. Aim for 10,000 steps a day – research shows that we spend too much time sitting down at our desk jobs, but this can be difficult to address. Investing in devices like Fitbits help you and your employees keep track of your steps, and taking the stairs, going for a stroll at lunchtimes and walking the long way home can get you to your 10,000 steps while clearing your head at the same time.
  3. Focus on your mental health as much as your physical health – Stress is a huge issue in today’s society, and it’s easy to forget that your brain needs to relax in the same way your body does. I find daily meditation and yoga classes once a week help to keep my stress levels under control and I encourage my employees to do the same.