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Xero Survey Reveals SA Small Businesses Have Highest Level Of Wellbeing

Xero, the global small business platform, has today launched The global state of small business owner wellbeing report which revealed that of the seven countries surveyed from November 2022 through to February 2023, only South African and Singaporean small business owners reported higher levels of life satisfaction than the general population results in the 2023 World Happiness Report.

Coinciding with Stress Awareness Month, the report revealed that overall, small business owner wellbeing is currently below that of the general population in five of the seven countries examined in the research. This serves as a reminder of the myriad challenges small business owners are dealing with in 2023 – including high inflation, slowing economic growth, concern about staff wellbeing and general uncertainty about the future.

The global state of small business owner wellbeing report draws on responses from more than 4600 small business owners in seven countries to better understand how small business ownership affects different aspects of one’s wellbeing. South African small businesses remain resilient despite challenges the report found that of the seven countries surveyed, South African small business owners reported the highest level of overall wellbeing using the internationally recognised World Health Organisation framework.

This is despite rising socioeconomic challenges. Over half (56%) of South African small business owners feel cheerful or in good spirits most or all the time, the highest level in any country covered. One in two wakes up feeling refreshed and rested, and one in two reports feeling active and vigorous, most or all the time. That’s substantially more than in any other country measured in the report.

When looking into stress drivers, 32 percent of South African small businesses find work-related issues causing stress in their personal lives most or all the time. While 28 percent feel stress due to managing employees’ mental health most or all the time – the second highest of all countries – despite enjoying relatively high accessibility of counselling and support for small business owners.

Colin Timmis, Country Manager South Africa, Xero, said: “SMEs are the cornerstone of the economy, contributing to 39 percent of South Africa’s GDP. Despite facing relatively frequent financial distress, the ongoing impact of load shedding, and struggling to regularly take time off work, owners maintained a consistently positive outlook. We see resilience at the very heart of South African small business owners’ sense of wellbeing.”

Report offers four recommendations:

The global state of small business owner wellbeing report offers four recommendations to help improve small business wellbeing:

  1. Investment in policies that encourage small business innovation, learning, and upskilling
  2. Training and guidance in addressing the root causes of employees’ mental health issues
  3. Counselling and peer support networks to help small business navigate their challenges
  4. Exploring ways to achieve restedness that intentionally set business matters aside

To download the report, go to the Xero website. To find out more about how the data was collected, see the methodology section in the report’s appendix.