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Improving work-life balance for business leaders

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Martin Atkins - Menzies Accountant

Martin Atkins – Business Advisory Partner

76% of UK small business owners admitted to working during their holidays, making them liable to a burnout. This approach is decreasing productivity and also business performance. Ways that business leaders could re-establish a healthier work-life balance could be to pass on productive habits to their team and outsource support in specialist areas. This will help business leaders take back control of their working day.

4 tips to take into your business

1 – Technology leads to ‘always on’ lifestyle 

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The convenience of smartphones, or other internet-supported mobile devices, allows people to be reached from anywhere round the globe, at any time. Whilst there are many positives like always being able to be on top of work, the ‘always on’ way of life is preventing some well-earned rest and recovery. According to recent research, majority of entrepreneurs have stated that they find it difficult to keep a healthy work-life balance.  

2 – Focus on strategic decision making 

Many small business owners often find they tend to overwork because they feel responsible for their employee’s financial wellbeing and because of a lack of resources. Its common that business leaders believe that they are vital to the smooth running of the business and therefore become reluctant to delegate tasks. Leaders may ‘muddle on’ with back office functions such as payroll, managing the accounts and HR until they reach a problem. They do this because of a lack of understanding around the benefits that outsourced services can bring to the business. Long term, this can lead to them ignoring an always-growing workload, with hardly any time to concentrate on strategic decision making, and at a noteworthy cost to their family and personal life. 

3 – Trust your employees 

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A red flag showing business owners might be going through a burnout is an unwillingness to trust the wider team. Not only is this an unsustainable management approach but refusing to train employees and delegate tasks in important business areas is likely to confine their professional development. This could trigger a high staff turnover due to an unmotivated workforce. 

A good indication of whether a change of approach is needed is if a business leader finds they are constantly firefighting by reacting to business or market challenges. Throwing large sums of money at problems in order to fix them isn’t always the answer. This tactic can lead to cash-flow problems, and potentially business failure. In other cases, owner managers might choose instead to turn a blind eye, hoping that the business’s problems will disappear. Instead, they should be freeing up time to work on (rather than in) the business, so they can focus on any underlying issues and improve the company’s overall performance. 

To gain more value from their working day, owner managers need to trust their team and try to incorporate productive behaviours and habits. Creating a strong team and educating the employees about the traits of a productive person, will provide the individuals with the opportunity to step up to the mark. Moreover, this will allow business owners to take a step back from the day-to-day running of the business and take a more strategic role. 

4 – Leaders should outsource 

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For leaders to better appreciate the value of their time, they should outsource support in specialist areas, such as financial management and HR. As small businesses often operate on limited budgets, the initial costs with setting up these areas could be off-putting at first. But, it’s important to balance this expenditure with the long-term value it will deliver to the business. Not only do the outsourced solutions help companies to become aware of efficiencies by streamlining their processed, they can give them a clearer headspace to add value and improve business performance.  

Outsourced services can provide the flexibility to make it a cost-effective solution. For instance, levels of support can be flexed to take account of  levels of expertise and internal resources. When selecting an outsourcing services partner, it’s a good idea to look for a provider that has experience working in the same sector. The provider should demonstrate a progressive use of technologies to provide support to a variety of business functions and improve efficiencies. Prior to determining which services to outsource, the business owner should think about where the companies main pressure points lie, and where there is greatest potential to realise time and cost savings.  

Notwithstanding the rise in focus on promoting health and wellbeing in the business world, some SME leaders still won’t admit when they are having difficulties coping with heavy workloads. It’s likely that this has an impact on productivity and therefore limits business performance. By outsourcing key areas of the business and investing in the development of strategic members of staff, owner managers can build a more successful and sustainable business, while also improving their work-life balance.  

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