Do Singapore’s Small Business Owners Experience High Wellbeing Despite Work-Related Stress?

3 mins read

4 August 2023

Discover the intriguing paradox faced by Singapore’s small business owners – a new report reveals how they rank high in wellbeing and life satisfaction while battling work-related stress.

Xero, the global small business platform, unveiled a groundbreaking report, exposing a unique paradox experienced by Singapore’s small business owners. According to the report titled “The Global State of Small Business Owner Wellbeing,” Singaporean entrepreneurs reported the highest levels of work-related stress when compared to their peers in other countries. However, surprisingly, they ranked second globally in overall wellbeing and life satisfaction.

The report, based on data gathered from seven countries during November 2022 to February 2023, indicated that only Singapore and South Africa’s small business owners reported higher levels of wellbeing than the general population results in the 2023 World Happiness Report. Furthermore, Singapore and South Africa were ranked equal second in terms of life satisfaction, trailing closely behind New Zealand’s small business owners. Conversely, the United Kingdom’s small business owners reported the lowest level of life satisfaction.

Employing the World Health Organisation’s Five (WHO-5) Well-Being Index framework, the report found that small business owners in Singapore had the second-highest overall wellbeing. Interestingly, younger small business owners under the age of 30 reported higher overall wellbeing levels than those over 50, in contrast to the findings in Australia and New Zealand.

Despite the high levels of wellbeing and life satisfaction, Singapore’s small business owners experienced more financial distress and stress related to managing employees and business issues, leading to personal stress compared to their global counterparts. The report highlighted that 30 percent of Singaporean small business owners experienced financial distress, and 35 percent expressed personal stress due to work most or all of the time, ranking the highest among all surveyed countries in both categories.

Another concerning aspect revealed in the report was that Singaporean small business owners were the least likely to be able to take a break from work, with only 39 percent reporting being able to do so most or all of the time. This figure was 10 percent lower than the average of the seven countries in the study.

Koren Wines, Managing Director of Xero Asia, expressed concern over the findings and emphasized the need for greater support to small business owners in Singapore, especially regarding their wellbeing. Wines stated that the challenges faced by these entrepreneurs, particularly in today’s uncertain and volatile macro environment, can be overwhelming. Xero believes in its responsibility to help improve the lives of its customers and foster a thriving small business environment.

The report also indicated that global factors had a more significant impact on small business owners’ wellbeing than local issues. Despite varying local stresses in different countries, small business owners across most countries reported fairly similar overall levels of wellbeing and life satisfaction, suggesting a stronger influence from common global issues rather than national ones.

The research further highlighted differences between younger and older small business owners. Small business owners under 30 were more likely to experience financial distress than their counterparts over 50, and they also expressed higher stress levels concerning their employees’ wellbeing.
In light of the findings, the report presented four recommendations to enhance small business wellbeing:

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

The report serves as a call to action for both government and private sectors to collaborate and provide the necessary support systems to bolster the wellbeing of Singapore’s small business owners. By addressing these challenges, it is hoped that entrepreneurs can continue contributing to Singapore’s economic growth while enjoying a higher quality of life and wellbeing.

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